Instant Recap: 2019 Celebration In Brass

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Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to this live blog of the 2019 Celebration in Brass drum corps competition, brought to you by FloMarching! My name is Kevin Gamin, Managing News Editor of Drum Corps Planet, and I will be bringing you commentary on each of the performing drum corps tonight as it happens! The show starts at 8 PM Eastern/7 PM Central, so be sure to get your stream up and running in time for all of the action!


Unfortunately, due to the nature of the stadium in Ankeny, we're not able to have a camera directly on the 50, but we'll still get great shots with the angles we have!


Our first corps in DCI Open Class competition is the Colt Cadets from Dubuque, Iowa. Here is their 2019 program information:

  • Show Title: ...Of A Feather
  • Repertoire:
    • "Blackbird" by The Beatles
    • "Don't Stop Me Now" by Queen
    • "On Eagles Wings" by Michael Crawford
    • "The Raven" by Alan Parsons Project
  • Description: "Grab your binoculars and look to the skies with the 2019 Colt Cadets! Listen for the iconic "Blackbird" by the Beatles used in different ways throughout their program, and experience a peacock personified by Freddie Mercury in "Don't Stop Me Now." The journey soars "On Eagles Wings" during this softer transitional movement, and the Colt Cadets close their program using the dark imagery of birds in their performance of "The Raven" by the Alan Parsons Project. From birds conversing in the trees to a majestic eagle soaring into the sunset, the Colt Cadets 2019 program, titled ...OF A FEATHER, encapsulates the power, attitude, and symbolism of various birds from around our world."

The percussion kick this show off with a great uptempo start, front ensemble followed by marching percussion. When the brass comes in, it's on a variation of Blackbird and serves as a great intro to this show.

Colt Cadets have a strong sound for their age and size. It helps that the crowd is full of Colts supporters. Not only that, their Colts A corps brethren are on the track giving them a ton of positive vibes.

Guard uniforms look incredible with a mix of black and purple, very blackbird/raven in nature.

Don't Stop Me Now is the first full selection of the show. After a brief drum feature, the trumpet line sets up on a stage behind the front ensemble and lets loose on the chorus.

Baritone soloist  performs the melody of On Eagles' Wings, very low key after the uptempo first half of the show.

The ballad builds to a climax, then comes back down as a trumpet soloist on the stage finishes the song.

Time for some classic 70s rock with The Raven by the Alan Parsons Project. Bass drums take the stage, literally, and fire off a feature.The rest of the corps goes behind the stage and allows the percussion their chance to shine.

The front ensemble now gets featured on the melody before a trumpet soloist performs on the stage. The soloist is miced to get an extra reverb effect.

Brass and percussion set up in front of the front ensemble and have themselves a park and blow session.

Mellos repeat a modulating minor version of the Blackbird theme to build into the finale of the show.

Nicely done, Colt Cadets! You made your organization proud once again.


Next on the field is River City Rhythm from Anoka, Minnesota. Their 2019 program is entitled "Breaking The News".

The front ensemble starts us off and they go crazy go nuts to start with a lot of fast notes and even typewriter accompaniment.

The percussion section of River City Rhythm is full size, both in the front ensemble and on the field. It's quite a site to behold for an Open Class corps.

Horns are now in and they have a great balanced sound in their introduction.

First movement of the show. After a brief "breaking news' opening, the corps moves into a Bernsteinesque selection. Mellophones get a chance to shine on some unison notes that ring out over the ensemble.

Front ensemble gets another shot to show off their skills with flair.

A set of "news desks" have served as both props to perform around as well as a changing border for the left side of the performance area.

Guard is dressed in colorful variations of 1940s style outfits. This goes with the theme, as well as the vocal samples used throughout the opener, which advertises broadcasting on the AM radio band all over the world.

Already our second Beatles tune of the night, a trumpet soloist on A Day In The Life. They read the news today, oh boy...

Oh, good. There is at least one guard member wearing a newsboy cap. I'd have been disappointed if there wasn't.

Trumpet soloist is very expressive and is featured nicely throughout this section of the show.

3rd movement has the percussion featured with a brass intro. Snares stand out with their level of cleanliness on their feature.

Nice decelerando by the percussion to end their feature!

Rifles get up on a stage made up from some of the news desks and show off their skills. I always love an under the leg catch.

The ending is a little abrupt, so I expect that the REAL ending is still in the works, as with many corps at this stage of the season. Overall, a very strong performance by RCR tonight.


Our first World Class corps tonight is the Academy from Tempe, Arizona. Here is their 2019 program information:

  • Show Title: "The Bridge Between"
  • Music Repertoire:
    • "Dance No. 1, First Movement" by Oliver Davis
    • "Equilibrium" by Paul Lovatt Cooper
    • "Bridge Over Troubled Water" by Paul Simon
    • "Horizons" by Paul Lovatt Cooper
    • Original music by Steven Vento

Fast opening in the front ensemble to start the show. Guard looks incredible in white tops with bridge graphics and purple pants.

Marching percussion gets in on the action. Very tasty beats.

Horns start off set up on the 50. When they start playing, they start jazz running across the field, which is great demand right out the gate (or bridge).

TWENTY trombones are all set up on a large bridge prop backfield and are projecting their sound confidently to the rest of us.

For a second, I thought Academy was playing the music from Disney's millennium celebration, but then they definitely played an evil London Bridge.

Flowing water effects from the front ensemble as a flugelhorn soloist on the backfield bridge plays Bridge Over Troubled Water.

I mentioned the guard uniforms, but the rest of the corps looks incredible as well. Mainly white with their own bridge graphics, a purple and black arm (with sparkly sequins!), and a hip cape that is white on the outside and orange on the inside, matching the bridge props on the field.

Great musical moment with the climax of Bridge. Afterwards, the horns head back to the bridge and a trumpet finishes the song.

After a brief percussion break, the horns come back in with a vengeance, first with loud, and then with a sick double tonguing feature.

Oh, and trombone smears.

Something we don't get as much as I'd like is backfield playing by the brass. Academy just used that to great effect to build up into the next section of the show.

Huge sound as the corps reprises Bridge Over Troubled Water, complete with high stepping brass!


Next on the field is the Mandarins from Sacramento, California. Here is their 2019 program information:

  • Show Title: subTerra
  • Music Repertoire:
    • "On the Shoulders of Giants" by Peter Graham
    • "Run Boy Run" by Ambroise Willauma and Yoann Lemoine
    • Original Composition by Key Poulan and Ike Jackson
  • Description: "The production begins with the tribal leader on top of a wagon and a red pole center stage used as a “spiritual ceremonial gathering” celebration of our new arrival. In accompaniment of hand drumming, a tribal ritual dance commences in the center of the field signifying our arrival into our new city. An outsider, or intruder, interrupts our celebratory ritual. No longer safe and no longer hidden to civilization, our tribe must take action and do anything to survive."

A very thunderous opening to the show, with plenty of concert bass and hand drums in the opening.

The show is already very three dimensional with guard members climbing up on the towering propers on the field.

The feel of this show is very tribal, almost aboriginal. Heavy on the percussion and chanting so far, but the horns are getting a workout now with On the Shoulders of Giants.

a very cool move by the rifles, doing a spin move with their rifles either on their chin or chest (hard to see on the high cam). While they spin, it keeps the rifle on them. In unison, it's a very striking effect.

Guard is featured front and center with both flags and rifles. Their uniforms give the look of tribal tattoos on them.

The mood changes significantly for the second movement, very somber and down tempo. Some playing to the back corners of the field by the brass for added musical effect.

And then they turn forward with a wall of sound!

Percussion feature, Run Boy Run, for the third movement, right on the 50 and front side line.

This is so different from how Cavaliers used this song in 2015 I almost didn't recognize it, but it's a perfect percussion feature.

Brass back in for the final movement. Tubas just hit a wicked split part that gave me chills.

Trumpets and mellos pushing forward diagonally on the field in a block formation at half time, just pushing sound at the stands. Great musical moment.

And a huge evil chord by the horns, all on the front of the field, to just blow everybody away and finish the show.


We are on intermission until 8:36 PM Central when the Blue Stars will resume the show.


Next on the field is the Blue Stars from Lacrosse, Wisconsin. Here is their 2019 program information:

  • Show Title: Call of the Wild
  • Music Repertoire:
    • "Concerto No. 4 in F Minor, Op. 8, RV 297, 'Winter'" by Antonio Vivaldi
    • "Symphony No. 1" by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
    • "Dance Panels" by Aaron Copland
    • "Sora" by Yoko Kanno
    • "Avalanche" by Jim Wunderlich, Rick Barclay, Matthew Hernandez
    • "The Great Thaw (Reprise)" by Frode Fjellheim, Christophe Beck

Blue Stars drum major has gone full mountain man with his beard for this show and I am for it.

Soloists are getting pushed across the field on sleds.

Full brass line opens with fast paced kaleidoscopic drill and wicked 16th note runs before coming front on the field for their first impact of the show.

Percussion feature is based around Vivaldi's Winter movement of The Four Season.

Wait, their mountain prop has slides? I'm jealous!

We now move into Aaron Copland's Dance Panels, which has a light, well, dance feel to it, but is also very exposed for the corps with many musical stabs. If the timing is even a little bit off, everybody knows it.

More fast paced close quarters drill right on the 50 by the horns.

After a brief transition, the Blue Stars move into the ballad of the show, Yoko Kanno's Sora. A trumpet soloist on the mountain opens with the melody.

Kanno's music covers an extensive range, from hard hitting jazz to introspective, as we experience with Sora. The corps is doing a great job performing with this selection.

A brief Frozen quote from the pit as the bass drums are featured during the transition out of the ballad. Tenors now get their their shot, followed by snares.

Drum line finishes their feature with a full out roll on the front of the field as the brass returns into the musical mix. Very intense moment.

Huge flag feature on the right side of the field, giving great exposure to the guard, as the corps finishes their show!


Next on the field is the Santa Clara Vanguard from Santa Clara, California. Here is their 2019 program information:

  • Show Title: Vox Eversio
  • Music Repertoire:
    • "Fraternity" by Thierry Deleruyelle
    • "Audivi Media Nocte" by Oliver Waespi
    • "Nothing Else Matters" by Metallica
    • Original music by Sandi & Paul Rennick
  • Description: "'Vox Eversio invites the audience into a world in which the courageous choice of nonconformity is not only accepted, but celebrated,' said Michael Gaines, VMAPA Creative Director and SCV Visual Designer. 'The choice to bring this show to life was made easier with the knowledge that this skilled cast of performers would be able to perform it with an authenticity that must be experienced to be believed.'"

Loosely translated from Latin, "vox eversio" means "the voice of revolution". Hence the anarchist look of the corps. You'll also hear what sounds like sirens coming from the pit at times.

Vanguard starts off by showcasing their strength, the percussion, but the horns come in full out soon after. Some of the crowd starts applauding with the opening impact, which is LOUD.

A very mournful mellophone soloist plays while standing on top of one of the many props on the field.

Tubas now laying down a sick bass line.

Meanwhile, a trumpet and bari duet perform on another one of the props while it's pushed across the field.

Mellophones are set up to do this year's sustain of death. Why sustain one note when you can just modulate up the scale and add tension to the moment?

Baritones just ripping face on the opening of the next movement!

What the tenors just did might be illegal, but wow was it good.

Trombone soloist on the front sideline, now joined by a sousaphone soloist on one the props behind him.

And now for the jazziest rendition of Metallica you may ever hear, complete with amazing soloists on all instruments.

Speaking of which, the trumpet quartet at the end of Nothing Else Matters is Maynard Ferguson levels of insane.

More SCV percussion goodness before moving into the close of the show, which has a very closing statement feel, but I suspect we're going to get something similar to how last year's show finished at some point.


Next on the field is the Bluecoats from Canton, Ohio. Here is their 2019 program information:

  • Show Title: The Bluecoats
  • Music Repertoire:
    • "A Day In The Life" by The Beatles
    • "I Want to Hold Your Hand" by The Beatles
    • "Eleanor Rigby" by The Beatles
    • "Within You Without You" by The Beatles
    • "Blackbird" by The Beatles
    • "Come Together" by The Beatles
    • "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" by The Bealtes
    • "The End"
  • Description: "From the cacophony of the 1960s rose the one band to rule them all - The Beatles. The famous foursome not only shaped music history, but also informed the rapidly changing cultural landscape around them as the band evolved from their teeny-bopper roots to the revolutionary social awareness, psychedelia, and musical experimentation of their later work. Throughout their meteoric rise - from working-class Liverpool and honing their craft in Hamburg, to Beatlemania, the Ed Sullivan show, and rocking Shea Stadium - The Beatles contributed not just soul-stirring medleys and unforgettable lyrics to the world of music, but hairstyles, fashion, and cultural consciousness across the universe. It is in that spirit of collaboration and innovation that we present our 2019 program, 'The BLUECOATS.' From 'I Want to Hold Your Hand' to Abbey Road, we use 21st-century technology, unavailable when the music was created, to harness the breadth and depth of the Beatles’ catalog and explore our own evolution - on stage and live in concert."

I think we've had five Beatles songs at least quoted in the first minute of the show.

The overlay of this rendition of I Wanna Hold Your Hand with the brass playing Yesterday backfield is incredible effective, but then we have the mellophones playing notes like mad as the baritones play Elanor Rigby, which is also amazing to hear.

One thing Bluecoats really like to do is have small pods of brass players who then overlay what they play on top of one another. It's a very stereophonic effect. and I don't think anybody else is doing something like that.

And, of course, at least one electronic effect involving sampling of that incredible brass line.

Speaking of electronic effects, the effect of the audio modulation of the trombone soloist entering into the Indian section of the show is very much effective.

Brass gets another chance to show off their technical proficiency.

Doug Thrower, brass arranger for the Bluecoats, likes to say that he writes the same notes every year, but keeps rearranging them until they're in the right order. I think Doug hit the right order this season.

This is very evident with Thrower's arrangement of Blackbird, which may be the most true to the original chart while still retaining that classic Bloo sound. The flugelhorn soloist is something to behold, as well.

The Bluecoats tuba section gets their chance to shine, laying down an evil sounding bass line for the lead into Come Together.

Another sign of modern drum corps: Members aware of the camera and mugging for it if they're not playing or in character. I believe that's called showmanship.

Showmanship is also going full out down and dirty on She's So Heavy.

The End is, well, the end, though I'm sure not THE END we'll see and hear in August.


Our final corps of the evening is the Colts from Dubuque, Iowa. Here is their 2019 program information:

  • Show Title: When Hell Freezes Over
  • Music Repertoire:
    • Music by AC/DC
    • Music by Robert W. Smith
    • Music by Camille Saint-Saens
    • Music by Frederic Chopin
    • Music by Bob Dylan
  • Description: "Featuring the music of AC/DC, Robert W. Smith, Camille Saint-Saens, Frederic Chopin, and Bob Dylan, the Colts explore the depths and dualities of a place one hopes to never know. In the struggle, there is light. Beyond the inferno, there is ice. Yet no soul is so forsaken that it cannot find its way to heaven's door. The Colts are proud to present their 2019 program... When Hell Freezes Over."

In a nice touch, Brandt Crocker, who has been the show coordinator for tonight instead of the announcer, announces the Colts onto the field for a little extra hype.

Uh oh...having electronics issues. Crowd is very supportive, though!

Brandt: "Ladies and gentlemen, it really has worked all day until now!"

As an IT pro, I am required to ask this: Have you tried turning it off and back on again?

WE HAVE AUDIO!!! LET'S GET THIS BREAD!!!

OK, this just became the hype show of 2019. Colts could play long tones for their show and they'd get a standing O.

Tubas sounding deliciously evil. Like they're from Hell, maybe?

Go mellophones! Absolutely whaling on this intro!

Final chord of the intro just kept building in intensity. Colts definitely feeling the home field juju.

Great arrangement of Danse Macabre. This is a very sophisticated show, yet very accessible. 

Second movement has the brass playing to one side of the field for the intro, very ominous. Now the tubas are laying down a tango bass line while a trombone choir up front adds a counter melody to what the corps is playing.

I'm getting some serious Caballeros vibes to this section of the show. It is quite EN FUEGO.

Yes, I'm going to use that every chance I get.

Third movement. Percussion featured front and center with screaming soloists on either side. A large blue sheet is drawn across the field, over the various props. The props go from fire to ice as it passes over, as does the guard, changing their costumes as Hell does indeed freeze over.

Piano soloist tickling the keys in the pit during this interlude. Nicely done.

Props are set up in a circular formation in the center of the field. The horns have run inside that area and do some close quarters drill before finishing the selection.

We are now knock, knock, knockin' on Heaven's door. Must be too cold in Hell now, and Heaven has zone heating.

Trumpet quartet announces the final moments of the show in a pure Colts screamer way.


WE HEAR YOU, ANKENY! Thanks for having us tonight!


I normally don't comment on the encore, but Colts are playing Duel of the Fates and I am trying not to squee right now.


Scores:

Open Class
2. 54.2 - Colt Cadets
1. 58.9 - River City Rhythm

World Class
6. 73.0 - Academy
5. 74.0 - Colts
4. 77.5 - Mandarins
3. 79.65 - Blue Stars
2. 85.6 - Santa Clara Vanguard
1. 86.3 - Bluecoats

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