A Brief History: The Cadets' 2021 Throwback Repertoire

A Brief History: The Cadets' 2021 Throwback Repertoire

When they announced the title and repertoire for their 2021 show, it became abundantly clear what was at the center of the corps’ design—The Cadets, itself.

Jun 23, 2021 by Jeff Griffith
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Jeff Griffith is a writer and columnist for FloMarching, and any perspective presented in this article represents his own only.

When The Cadets announced the title and repertoire for their 2021 production, it became abundantly clear what was at the center of the corps’ upcoming design. 

That was, simply, The Cadets.

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To a long-time drum corps fan, it’s obvious even from the title. “Shall ALWAYS Be” harkens directly to The Cadets’ rallying cry, “for holy name shall always be,” with the clear emphasis on fortitude and stability in the word always.

But when you dig into the music selections for the Allentown corps’ program, that’s when you really get excited, if you’ve long been a follower of this activity. 

Pretty much every piece of music in this production harkens back to an iconic moment in the history of the second-winningest organization in Drum Corps International history. 

So, we’ll start at the top.

“Everything Old is New Again” by Peter Allen

Okay, this one doesn’t call back to anything; in fact, it’s never been played by any drum corps, per DCXMuseum.org. 

One can infer, though, considering the song’s title and the nature of The Cadets’ show title and concept, that this piece is a foundation-setter or connective tissue to apply the theme to the musical material.

“Fanfare (from Appalachian Spring)” by Aaron Copland

Now we’re talking. 

You don’t even have to be a veteran drum corps fan to know this one. The Cadets performed Copland’s iconic piece in 2014’s “Promise: An American Portrait.” That season, the Allentown corps posted a bronze medal and score of 96.875.

Competitively speaking, save a gold medal in 2011, one could argue 2014 was The Cadets’ strongest showing of the past decade. But if we go back even further, “Appalachian Spring” was the inspiration for the corps’ entire 1987 production, with which it won its fourth of now 11 gold medals.

And artistically speaking, “Appalachian Spring” is pure Cadets, both the way it was done seven years ago and the way it was done 34 years ago. Anything remotely similar this year would provide a perfect emotional gut punch as an opening impact.

“Rocky Point Holiday” by Ron Nelson

This one’s pretty embedded in The Cadets’ history. 

“Rocky Point Holiday'' has not only been a long-standing warm-up piece for the corps, but it played an integral role in The Cadets’ first-ever medal (3rd, 1982) and first-ever world championship title (1983). The piece resurfaced in 2003, to the tune of another bronze medal and 97.100 final score. 

This piece has The Cadets written all over it. It’s strong, it’s punchy, it drives, and — at least, every time the corps has played it to date, whether on a field or in the lot — it’s got wicked passages of intricate music. 

“New World (from Dancer in the Dark)” by Björk

If I may speak from the heart for a second, this is the piece that has me the most excited.

It was while performing this piece of music — and others, of course — that The Cadets posted their strongest competitive season ever, tying what was then an all-time DCI high score of 99.150 and earning the corps its ninth gold medal with 2005’s “The Zone: Dreamscapes in Four Parts with a Door.” 

“New World” has a mysterious tone to it, it builds so powerfully and impactfully, and is coupled with an absolutely beautiful melody. For more recent fans, it’s somewhat emulative in the sound of The Cadets’ 2018 ballad, “Ara Batur.”

“Moondance” by Van Morrison

This one takes us back to 2001’s “Juxtaperformance.”

The Cadets followed up their iconic 2000 production, “We are the Future” with another compellingly inventive show in 2001, and “Moondance” was a major cog in that machine. 

If you’ve never heard Morrison’s tune, it really swings and will give The Cadets the chance to display some of the jazzy and fiery flair they’ve put out in some recent years’ movements, like 2019’s ballad, 2012’s “Jingle Bells” section, and 2017’s “De Profundis” section. 

"Great Moments in Cinema, Part 2: The Land Race (from Far and Away)" by John Williams

You literally cannot go wrong with John Williams in your repertoire.

 But this one’s more than just a pretty John Williams score. The Cadets wrap their tour through their own history books with a trip to 1995 and “An American Quintet,” which ended up in a silver medal for the Allentown corps. 

 I don’t know exactly how The Cadets will present this piece in 2021, but I know that in 1995, it ended with one of the most piercingly pure chords I’ve ever heard, a slow company front, and a roaring crowd reaction. 

Classic Cadets, right?

After such a strong setlist of The Cadets' staples, I’d be quite surprised if it didn’t get the exact same this summer.