Welcome to the annual Drum Corps International World Championships Individual and Ensemble competition, held in the massive concourse level of the Denver Adam's Mark Hotel, the official headquarters hotel for DCI this week.

A Pacific Crest member partakes in the
Hundreds of members of corps large and small are competing for honors in every facet of brass, percussion and guard that comprises a corps. An interesting tidbit about this event is that members of the smallest corps compete on equal standing with members of the largest corps. Every year, the results bear out that there are remarkably talented members in corps of all divisions, as sometimes, members from the big-name corps watch someone from a corps they have perhaps never even seen walk away with the top honor in their category. DCI's Web content manager, Dave Wilson, asked me to recount personal favorite memories from past I&E Championships. While I have been enamored of many performances from brass players, percussionists and guard members, one sticks out in my mind as if it happened yesterday. The year was 1978. Santa Clara Vanguard snare drummer Robbie Carson was going after another top snare drum honor, after amassing an impressive string of victories in the caption. The I&E show was spread across the University of Colorado campus in Boulder, just up the road from Denver. (This was the last time the DCI World Championships was held in Colorado.) The first drum Robbie brought into the competition room split its batter head during his warmup. Robbie was told by the judge to find another drum. The second drum, minutes later, did the same thing. This was an era when snares were tuned quite high, yet the technology of making the drum shells and heads had not yet caught up to the demands of the increased tensioning. Now, many performers would have had their concentration totally shattered by this experience. The second time would have pushed them over the edge. Robbie went out to the hallway, found yet another drum, came back in when allowed by the judge, and proceeded to play as if fire was coming out of his hands. It was one thing to be the best in his category, but to overcome the odds of the two disruptions made Robbie a hero to many in that room. I&E is a perfect opportunity for corps members to sample the best from others in categories other than their own specialty. A trumpeter/soprano bugler can learn something about the state-of-the-art in bass drum ensembles and rifle work, and a flag twirler can hear their first tuba/contra solo. During the entire competition, corps members pack the various rooms to cheer on members of their own corps, as well as other corps. It's a great opportunity for members to meet other corps members off the competition field. Check out DCI.org for lots of photographs from the event, as well as lots of up-close-and-personal stories about a variety of the members competing at the event and those who are attending to cheer others on. The I&E contest is just one of those special events that help make this week so festive.