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Members of the Santa Clara Vanguard and Vanguard Cadets horn lines were featured performers during the organization’s annual birthday celebration.
Courtesy: Drum Corps International

Vanguard’s 50th birthday offers a glimpse into org’s next 50

By: Christina Mavroudis
          Release: 03/29/2017
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By sheer definition, Vanguard is leading the way and continually reinventing itself. Marking the organization’s milestone 50th anniversary, a sense of “newness” was in the air during a special birthday brunch on Saturday, March 25, at Vanguard Hall in Santa Clara, California.

The annual event, which drew more than 170 alumni, family members and friends, also welcomed three individuals into the Vanguard Hall of Fame, laid out new campaigns that will take the corps into its next 50 years, and the icing on the cake—performances by the 2017 Santa Clara Vanguard and Vanguard Cadets.

Other event highlights focusing on the “new” within the Vanguard organization included:

A new focus: Vanguard officials recently announced that the name of the organization’s nonprofit entity, Santa Clara Vanguard Booster Club, has been changed to Vanguard Music and Performing Arts. The forward-thinking refocus will bring all of Vanguard’s ensembles together under a shared mission statement, “Inspiring communities and enriching lives by increasing opportunities for participation, education, and excellence in the performing arts.”

A new leader: Executive director Charles Frost introduced new Santa Clara Vanguard program director Shaun Gallant, a Vanguard alum who began working with the organization this past August.

A new campaign: Frost also introduced “Building Our Future,” an ambitious $1.1 million capital campaign that will focus on updating everything from Vanguard’s headquarter facilities to “Miss Amana,” the corps’ 25-year old food truck.

"The 'Building Our Future' campaign is a huge stepping stone for our organization. We will be able to expand our reach into the California Bay Area community by providing more opportunities for participation and education in many ways,” Frost said. “I can’t think of a better way to establish ourselves going into the next 50 years than by really reaching into the community from which we grew out of."

Newly inducted: Three additional names will be enshrined within the corps’ headquarters as the newest inductees of the Vanguard Hall of Fame—longtime volunteers Lou Avilla and Elaine Kono, plus Kathy Pearson, whose role as a corps member and instructor spans five decades.

New material: Circling up around the entire venue, in some places doubling up, the combined horn lines of the Vanguard and Vanguard Cadets presented a glimpse into the two corps’ upcoming seasons.

Monday got you feeling down? Listen to this and cheer up! Combined SCV & SCV hornlines performing "The Canyon" at Saturday's Birthday Brunch! #SCV2017 #SCVC2017 (Video courtesy of Ron Starnes)

Posted by Santa Clara Vanguard on Monday, March 27, 2017


First up, and introduced by director Steve Barnhill, the Vanguard Cadets dipped into some of its past repertoire before concluding with the group’s undisclosed 2017 opening tune, a surprisingly jazzy piece. 

In reference to a new direction, new instrumentation, and new uniforms the Vanguard Cadets will acquire this year, program coordinator Robert Ripley left most details to the imagination, telling those in attendance: “The only thing you will recognize [when the corps takes the field in 2017] is the Aussie, the shield, and the Vanguard presence.”

Stepping up to light the candles next, Santa Clara Vanguard’s World Class ensemble played selections from the corps’ yet-to-be-revealed 2017 production, before the two horn lines combined to perform “The Canyon” (A Philip Glass work from the corps’ 1999 Championship-winning production) and the organization’s signature theme, “Send in the Clowns.”

The enjoyable catered event brought the best of old and new, much to the delight to those in attendance. Here’s to 2017, a 50th anniversary, and the start of something new.

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