Drum Corps International
200th Fanfare: Remembering a supportive mom

200th Fanfare: Remembering a supportive mom

by Drum Corps International

Earlier this week, we celebrated Mothers' Day. OK, I missed the holiday by a weekend. But moms are used to getting recognition late--if at all--so here goes. Sam Signorelli was a member of Blue Devils in 1984, Dagenham Crusaders in 1986, Empire Statesmen in 1987 and So Cal Dream since 2002. We last heard from him on Aug. 15, 2003 in "Taking Time to Be Courteous." He contributed the following. Might you have a story to share about how a supportive friend or family member helped you through your drum corps experience, or how you've helped a child or friend live out their dream? If so, please drop me a line at boomike@dci.org. Incidentally, this is the 200th Fanfare column on DCI.org. I had never heard of drum corps until 1981 when I saw the PBS broadcast, but I still didn't understand the difference between corps and band. In 1983 I went to my first live show in Riverside, Calif. and was hooked. Realizing I only had one year of eligibility left, I reached for the brass ring and auditioned for, and made the Blue Devils. It was a year that changed my life and really defined me as an adult, but it wouldn't have happened without the help of my mother. Catherine "Tina" Signorelli was the perfect loving mother. She gave me a lot of my looks. (Fortunately I didn't get her nose. Unfortunately, I didn't get her mass of hair. [Rubs hand over large bald spot.] Thanks for the genes, Dad.) She did not try to project her own ideals onto me more than I wanted to accept, she didn't try to live her own dreams through me, and she was supportive in about anything I ever wanted to do. She supported me with my fencing in college (a brief hobby that a couple of decades later would turn into my job) and when I joined the U.S. Air Force. She made costumes for me to wear to the 1984 World Science Fiction Convention. And she supported me doing drum corps, an activity she had only seen via the 1983 PBS broadcast. But, she knew I wanted to try out for the best, and while Dad was quiet about it (as a non-musician he couldn't understand why I'd want to move away to join a "band"), Mom was different. She made my flight up to the Bay Area to audition for Blue Devils my 1983 Christmas present. When I made the corps, my birthday present was my full tour fee. I gave the check to corps director Mike Moxley when he picked me up at San Francisco airport in early January when I moved up. I think I was the first 1984 member to pay off their dues in full. It was rather pleasing to watch Mike's eyes bug when he saw the check! She also gave me a few bucks when I ran short of funds while waiting for my first McDonald's paycheck to arrive. From then on, I was fine. She not only came to the 1984 Riverside show to see me perform, she brought along my older brother (whose trumpet in the attic started my musical career), my sister, and surprisingly my paternal grandmother! Now why she brought Grandma Signorelli, I'll never know, but it was kind of a nice kick to hear, "Alright, SIGNORELLI!" screamed from the stands as we were setting up. I heard it three times before I finally leaned forward and waved at them so they knew I'd heard. After our performance, the four of them tracked me down behind the scenes. I wanted them to watch Santa Clara Vanguard (who beat us that night), but Mom's response was that she'd seen whom she wanted to see! Later, I found that she'd had one of the pictures my brother took behind the scenes (waist up, soprano to lips, me leaning back like I was screaming), and had it sketched out in charcoal and framed. It still hangs on the wall of my father's house like it did after it was completed. At the end of the season, she did not call to tell me her mother had passed away because it was two days before finals. Knowing how much the corps meant to me, she didn't want to distract me since as there was nothing I could do. I found out when I finally got back to San Diego after the DCI World Championships. Fast forward a few years and episodes show that her support went beyond her son. I had brought over my then-girlfriend, and Mom took Sandra into her home and treated her like one of her own. The very first thing she did after we arrived at the house was something anyone of Italian heritage will recognize. Mom, the born shepherdess, fed Sandra and gave her a home until she found lodging with the parents of a mutual friend. During the course of the boy/girlfriend, then engagement, and eventual marriage, Mom supported Sandy emotionally as she had me when I did Blue Devils. A year later, Sandy spent weeks looking for just the right "Madonna and Child" art to turn into one of her string arts, and it came out so well, Mom moved a mirrored cross at the top of the staircase to make room for the work, making it the first thing you saw when you reached the top of the stairs. In 1996, when she was starting to decline from lung cancer (although we thought it was lupus at the time), Mom went to the corps show in San Diego to see Nightfire, which I was directing. Even though the corps went on first, she stayed for the entire show, much to my delight. My father even finally understood corps a little bit since he'd accompanied her. Mom passed away in 1997. I only wish she'd lived long enough to see me performing with So Cal Dream, either as drum major or on the field.

Fanfare archives Michael Boo has been involved with drum and bugle corps since 1975, when he marched his first of three seasons with the Cavaliers.

He has a bachelor's degree in music education and a master's degree in music theory and composition.
   
He has written about the drum corps activity for over a quarter century for publications such as Drum Corps World, and presently is involved in a variety of projects for Drum Corps International, including souvenir program books, CD liner notes, DCI Update and Web articles, and other endeavors. Michael currently writes music for a variety of idioms, is a church handbell and vocal choir director, an assistant director of a community band, and a licensed Realtor in the state of Indiana. His other writing projects are for numerous publications, and he has published an honors-winning book on the history of figure skating. His hobbies include TaeKwonDo and hiking the Indiana Dunes. But more than anything, Michael is proud to love drum corps and to be a part of the activity in some small way, chronicling various facets of each season for the enjoyment of others.