OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. I'm not sure if that's a word, but it was the reaction of many fans to what happened at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego tonight. The Tour of Champions kicked off in high gear with spectacular field show performances from the six corps that proved they lost nothing in crossing the Continental Divide. And the "Instant Encore" performances. WOW!!! You will not believe the sound Phantom Regiment's baritone line generates when they take over the reigns in "Elsa's Procession to the Cathedral," from the corps' 1979 show. And the emotion Madison Scouts ring out of "Through the Eyes of Love" (Theme from "Ice Castles") from their 1980 and 1981 shows may leave you near tears. The Cavaliers chose a medley of their corps songs; "Over the Rainbow" and "We Are the Corps, The Cavaliers," based on the U.S. Coast Guard hymn, "Semper Paratus." Santa Clara Vanguard brought out their old chestnut, "Send in the Clowns," their closer from 1974 and 1976. The Cadets' encore, well, sort of defies explanation. Starting with a comic small ensemble rendition "William Tell Overture," the piece somehow sequed into a full corps blast of Van Morrison's "Moondance" from their 2001 show, with the corps moving to the very front row to blast out the song. The Blue Devils dedicated their "Instant Encore" to the memory of Jerry Seawright, their founder and longtime corps director, who passed away this year suddenly and unexpectedly. "Chase the Clouds Away," from the corps' 1975 and 1976 seasons, brought back many a memory for old-time corps fans. The corps ended their encore with a reprise of the "Take the 'A' Train" segment from this year's field show, blasting paint off the rails of the stadium. Over 400 horns from all the combined corps performed "Fanfare of Champions" at the end of the show, written by Jay Kennedy, composer of the theme that opens up the annual DCI-PBS broadcast. The symphonic percussion from Phantom Regiment and numerous timpani from all the corps joined in the festivities. You surely won't miss the 64 contras spread out across the front sideline. It's said that musical snippets from each of the six corps' past are hidden in the first part of the fanfare. The second part of the fanfare brings us a treatment of one of the most popular melodies ever to hit the field, "Simple Gifts." "Sing, Sing, Sing" is a knock-your-socks-off tour-de-force. Holy cow! Is this piece LOUD!!! It just might be the loudest thing this side of standing too close to a Harrier jet commencing a vertical take-off. Overall, it was an amazing night. May this not be the first AND the last Tour of Champions.
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