Drum corps is back—live! Learn about the show themes, the unique preparations, the training, and the tour directly from the staff of several prominent organizations.
By Elizabeth Clayton
Marketing and Communications Manager
After a season off the field, the Bluecoats could not be more excited to join the 2021 Drum Corps International Celebration Tour. This season is going to look unlike any before, and we are looking forward to new opportunities. Starting right from our July 1 move-in to Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU), this tour is going to be a new experience. While our time at IWU usually provides solitude, this year we intend to broadcast to the world from our headquarters with regular live streams of rehearsals and performances including chamber music and show materials.
“The 2021 season is such an incredible opportunity to revive the heart and soul of our activity, and I am so excited to play a role in that process,” says Nick Kneupper, a 2021 Bluecoats drum major. “I can’t wait to get out onto the field after nearly two years and show our fans what the Bluecoats have in store for this unusual but memorable summer tour!”
The Bluecoats organization creates life-changing and enriching experiences for our young adult participants. Therefore, their health, wellness, and safety will always be our first priority. Our team has been working around the clock for months to develop plans to operate safely.
We are working to ensure that most, if not all, of our participants and staff are fully vaccinated, that all in-person participants and staff are tested weekly, that our medical team is tripled, and that our return-to-play protocols meet industry standards for infection mitigation and COVID-19 treatment.
Of course, part of that life-changing experience is the type of Bluecoats show that fans and performers alike have come to expect and love. 2021 will be no different.
You’ll remember that at the end of our 2019 production, “The Bluecoats,” Sgt. Pepper closes the door. Now, intermission is over. What’s on the other side of the door? To start, we find a new character: Lucy. What does her world look like? Find out during the summer tour.
The Cavaliers: LIVE! From The Rose
By Ezekiel Jackson
Digital Properties Specialist</h4
Back after a summer away, The Cavaliers are thrilled to announce its 2021 production, “LIVE! From The Rose.” With only 10 shows this season, The Cavaliers are looking to rock the stadium each night for live audiences as the corps brings a flare of Rosemont while celebrating its 40th anniversary with the Village!
Designers provided extra attention and energy to make this year’s milestone show even more memorable.
“There is no script when this team gets together to design a show: It’s organic; it’s passionate discussions, belly laughs, and a genuine respect for each other, our membership, alumni, and the audience,” says Michael McIntosh, percussion caption manager and music coordinator. “2021 seems to be about generating all the feels—loud playing, energy, and displaying the power that a drum corps can generate. Our 2021 musical production will have the signature pacing and emotion that people have come to expect from us as well as a musical twist or two, for sure! Our 2021 production pulls from multiple genres such as rock, traditional barbershop quartet, cinema, pop music, and big band, all wrapped up in a powerfully cohesive product that will be ignited by some of the most talented membership that we’ve had in more than a decade. We are excited about bringing ‘LIVE! From The Rose’ to life this summer!”
Staff as well as participants have all worked hard to make the season possible, according to Monte Mast, executive director.
“We are excited to be returning to the field this summer,” he says. “The last 14 months have been a challenge for everyone. Our design team was committed to providing the members a show that was going to be something that they wouldn’t want to miss, and they have nailed it. The instructional team has created a great virtual off-season program and kept the members engaged and ready to hit the ground running when we finally move in. I can’t say enough about the members adapting and adjusting to the challenges and making the best out of a crazy situation. We wanted this season to be about them.”
In addition, the organization made improvements in equipment and other areas.
“We took advantage of our time away from the field to get better off of it,” Mast says. “[That includes] a new equipment fleet. We can’t wait to get started and to see you at a show this summer.”
The Cadets: Shall Always Be
By Allison Broussard
Marketing and Development Manager
“The 2021 Cadets are excited to finally perform this summer,” says Denise Bonfiglio, director of The Cadets and CEO of Cadets Arts and Entertainment Inc. “Making a decision to participate in 2021 required strength, vision, education, risk-taking, and creativity. … Drum corps in the future may not be the same as it was in the past, and I look forward to creatively navigating The Cadets to a path that sets them up for success for years to come.”
Entitled “Shall Always Be” taken from a line in the corps’ song, “O Holy Name,” The Cadets’ 2021 program will feature several iconic musical pieces that are inextricably tied to The Cadets. “The show is an homage to The Cadets—to our past, our present, and even to the future,” says Jay Bocook, brass arranger.
Regardless of challenges, obstacles, and setbacks, The Cadets Drum Corps is committed to being here for the community, for its alumni, and for young performers.
“In its current form, drum corps has been on a journey, building and evolving since the ’70s, and we’ve never had a pause in that journey until now,” says Jon Bilby, Cadets alumnus and drill writer. “So, we really reflected on that when designing this show.”
“Shall Always Be” opens with a dance soloist who discovers an old trunk in a grandparent’s attic and pulls out a Cadets uniform. The iconic, West-Point-style jacket evokes a feeling of nostalgia.
“So many great Cadets have worn the uniform,” says Sharbel Skaff, The Cadets’ horn sergeant. “Our motto going into this season is to honor those Cadets who came before us but also to be innovators in the activity while we’re here.”
The 2021 musical repertoire, woven together with quotes from legendary Cadets designers, comprises “Everything Old Is New Again” by Peter Allen, “Fanfare” from Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring,” “Rocky Point Holiday” by Ron Nelson, “New World” by Björk, “Moondance” by Van Morrison, and Bocook’s arrangement of “The Land Race” by John Williams.
“It’s going to be really exciting for our current members to step into the shoes of those who came before them and make their own mark on the corps’ history,” Bocook says. “This is their chance to say, ‘Here we are. We are The Cadets. You remember this. Now, remember us.’”
The Academy: Exposed
By Lindsey Vento
Artistic Director and Program Coordinator
“The Effort Is the Prize,” the timeless motto of the Academy Drum and Bugle Corps, has never felt more relevant, real, and motivating.
Just as with every drum corps organization, we have felt every bump, bruise, battle wound, and tire-flattening pothole along the way, and just like every other drum corps organization, we are excited to replace the battle wounds with sunscreen and the potholes with speedbumps.
The Academy is thrilled to be able to dust off the 2020 shelved production and give it a new treatment. The corps’ 2021 production, “Exposed,” takes a look at the life, art, and person of Andy Warhol. The program title plays on the word by showcasing his photographic silk-screening art and exposing some of the eclectic and reclusive personality traits of the artist.
Warhol’s lasting impression on art, society, and pop culture will be showcased in the show’s musical representation and selections, the strong visual pops of color and efforts to capture his signature style as defined by his fascination with consumer culture (such as Campbell’s Soup and a single banana), and the introspective look into his need for solitude and isolation during key times of his life.
This “Exposed” program, along with a 20th anniversary celebration featuring past musical selections of the Academy, will be brought to life with a very unique rehearsal schedule. Due to the Arizona summer heat and some facility speedbumps, we will be meeting in two blocks of time: 10 days in June and 10 days in July before the road to Indy!
Ambitious? Yep. Worth it to see The Academy members back together, doing what they do best, and ensuring the corps vets get to see the shelved 2020 production come to life? Yep.
Ultimately, “The Effort is The Prize.” Potholes, battle wounds, 20 days of rehearsal, and all.
Crossmen: Your Move
By Colin Busick
Marketing and Communications Intern
The Crossmen Drum and Bugle Corps has been putting on powerful displays of music in motion for 47 years. Returning to the field with the 2021 production “Your Move,” the Crossmen are thrilled to be bringing the excitement and adrenaline of drum corps back to a live audience.
Featuring the music of Pat Metheny and Hozier, “Your Move” is a classic display of the Crossmen’s musicianship and visual prowess explored through the game of chess. The program spans three parts—Openings, Movement, and Coronation—each providing drum corps fans with exhilarating and memorable moments on a monochrome field.
Following a year of unprecedented adversity, the Crossmen are eager to make their move back to a semblance of normalcy and to reaffirm drum corps as a paragon of the performing arts.
“Getting back on the field is important in so many facets,” says Natalie Steele, chief executive officer of Crossmen Productions. “The 2021 season is special because of what it stands for. We’re here to keep music and the marching arts relevant not only for drum corps but also for middle school, high school, and colleges and universities.”
The Crossmen will be kicking off the tour in the organization’s home state of Texas as well as performing in Arkansas and Missouri before finishing the summer in Indianapolis. Although this season lacks any formal competitive adjudication, the San Antonio drum corps has its own set of goals to achieve.
“The Crossmen’s goal is the big picture,” Steele says. “We want to develop the 2021 cast and then hit the ground running for the 2022 season.”
In spite of the unconventional nature of the 2021 tour, Crossmen members are excited and thankful for the chance to return to the activity that they love.
“I am excited for this upcoming 2021 season,” says Nathaniel Khatibloo, a returning Crossmen member and trumpet section leader. “I feel very lucky to have a chance to age out with the Crossmen. I know that this season is going to be different, but I know that the Crossmen [will] give the members the same phenomenal experience.”
River City Rhythm
By Bojan Hoover
After taking a hiatus during the 2020 summer season, River City Rhythm (RCR) is excited to return to the field in 2021. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, RCR began to offer online programming in the spring of 2020 through a series of popular programs, including the RCR Summer Academy, the RCR Winter Experience, and Distant Harmonies.
The RCR Summer Academy provided students with the opportunity to take individual lessons with RCR instructors throughout the summer of 2020. The RCR Winter Experience gave students the opportunity to take small group masterclasses with RCR designers and instructors and culminated with a collaborative virtual performance with hip-hop artist Nur-D. Distant Harmonies garnered worldwide interest through the commissioning of original works to be performed by various virtual ensembles. To date, thousands of student recordings have been compiled to create dozens of unique video collage performances through the Distant Harmonies program.
RCR conducted a virtual clinic at the 2021 Minnesota Music Educators Association Midwinter Clinic, which featured past and present performances from all three RCR ensembles—the RCR Winter Drumline, the RCR Winter Guard, and the RCR Drum and Bugle Corps.
In the spring of 2021, RCR announced that it would return to in-person activities and participate in the DCI celebration events scheduled in August and in local Midwest Combine shows held in Wisconsin and Iowa leading up to Indianapolis.
The 2021 summer show is designed by program coordinator Paul Weber, music director and horn arranger Drew Shanefield, and visual director Michael Lentz.
Colts: Leap of Faith
Colt Cadets: Apart Together
By Jeff MacFarlane
The Colts are ready to put the challenges of the past 15 months in the rearview mirror. There might never have been more anticipation for the start of a drum corps move-in than during 2021.
Following an entire summer of virtual learning, followed by an entire off-season of virtual auditions, the Red Team regrouped for the first time on July 2, 2021.
The Colts from Dubuque, Iowa, did not stop when the pandemic shut down the world. The design team put the finishing touches on the 2020 production—now set to debut in 2022—and began discussions for the uncertain 2021 season. As the off-season recruiting cycle turned to Zoom, the Colts designers worked through numerous concepts before landing on an idea, “Leap of Faith,” that perfectly suited the upcoming season.
The program’s journey is mirrored by the times we are going through. Sometimes you just have to trust and take the leap. Expect a somewhat traditional drum and bugle corps performance but with many added twists.
The Colt Cadets prepared for the 2021 season with a similar pandemic approach in a show aptly titled “Apart Together.” The Colt Cadets are often a fan favorite and has one of the youngest memberships in the activity.
Each year the group welcomes a vast range of students from those getting their first DCI experience (and occasionally their first time on an instrument or piece of guard equipment) to those who are nearly ready to make the leap to World Class.
The Colts and Colt Cadets geared up for summer with a spring training schedule at facilities throughout the Midwest. They join their neighboring corps in staging the Midwest Combine before heading off to the DCI Celebration in Indianapolis in early August.