Nearly 300 performers from 14 corps participated in the 2011 DCI Open Class Individual & Ensemble Competition (I&E), held at the Indiana Convention Center on Wednesday, Aug. 10 in Indianapolis.

The participating corps members performed at I&E just a day after the Open Class Finals in Michigan City, Ind. and one day before all of the Open Class corps participate in the World Class Prelims at Lucas Oil Stadium.

As seen in San Antonio where the World Class I&E Competition was held earlier this summer, solo and ensemble vocal categories were also included as new categories in the Open Class competition. The addition was inspired by a barbershop quartet exhibition in 2010 by members of 7th Regiment.

Event organizer Christina Mavroudis was particularly impressed with all of the family members who showed up for the performances in Indianapolis, but she was most astounded by the "superior quality of the performances," adding, "The dedication to the craft is amazing."

Why do the corps members take their limited free time to put together their I&E selections?

Matt Fountain is a euphonium player from Legends. He not only worked up a solo for the competition, he also participated in the corps' I&E brass ensemble.

"I do it to show people the musicianship that is in our young corps. We are able to exhibit our talent by participating in I&E," said Fountain.

Sometimes corps members do I&E primarily for fun. That's what the Racine Scouts color guard ensemble did, according to Julie Chaffee, a 10th year mellophone performer. In fact, the guard trio only contained one actual guard member, first-year member Amber Delozier. Along with Amber and 9th year member Maggie Hansen, the trio decided to work up a flag routine to celebrate their age-out season. While they did so just to have fun, they ended up winning the division.

Jeremy Atha, the bass guitarist from Forte, did not win his division, primarily because there was no division for guitar. So, he wrote his own piece and performed in exhibition. "I thought it would be good to get it out there, maybe open up the door a little for electronics," he said.

Jeremy may be thinking about how the 2010 7th Regiment vocal exhibition opened the door for the vocal divisions in this year's competition. To celebrate their accomplishment in helping create categories for vocalists, Sean Rahusen, Jami Jorge and Joe Walczyk, three of the members of last year's vocal exhibition quartet, returned this year with newcomer Christian Vazques to compete in I&E. In order to prepare for the event, they rehearsed on the bus during long rides between competitions, often while other members were trying to sleep. Not holding a grudge, members of 7th Regiment showed up in droves to cheer them on in performance, perhaps thankful that they won't be losing any more sleep.

S.O.M.E. (Sponsors of Musical Enrichment) once again sponsored the 2011 Individual & Ensemble Competition.

Contributing to this report: Laura Danielson, Linda & Sid Unser.