Drum Corps International
Armbruster, Ritacco to Lead Blue Stars brass in 2005

Armbruster, Ritacco to Lead Blue Stars brass in 2005

by Drum Corps International

From a Blue Stars press release: The Blue Stars Drum and Bugle Corps have named Chad Armbruster and Dan Ritacco as the 2005 brass co-caption heads. They will lead a brass staff that has more than 80 years of drum corps experience. "All of our instructors this year are outstanding musicians," said corps director Bill Sucha, "but more importantly, all of them are great teachers and great people. I think it's clear that this staff will bring the Blue Stars brass line to a new level of excellence." Chad Armbruster (co-caption) is currently pursing his master's degree in conducting from the University of Las Vegas, Nevada. The 2005 season will be Armbruster's 12th in drum corps. He is a former marching member of the Capital Sound and the Madison Scouts, and has taught with both Minnesota Brass, Inc., and Southwind. Dan Ritacco (co-caption) will be enjoying his 20th drum corps season in 2005. Ritacco marched with the Madison Scouts and Pioneer in the '80s, and spent four years as brass co-caption head for Capital Sound. Annette Nicks returns to the Blue Stars for her second season as an instructor. Annette aged out of the Colts as their baritone section leader. Currently she's finishing her master's degree in music education at Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo., where she's served as drum major the past two years. James Benton was the principle tubist with the symphonic band and symphony orchestra at West Texas A&M University, his alma mater. An alum of the Phantom Regiment, he has been teaching with Midland Lee High School's marching program since 2000. James has studied with a long list of low brass 'notables,' including Patrick Sheridan, J. Samuel Pilafian, Dianna Swoboda, Timothy Northcut and Brian Bowman. Roger Grupp will be assisting the Blue Stars during winter rehearsals.Grupp has been a performing member of Minnesota Brass Inc. for 30 seasons and has been a soloist with the corps every year since 1986. DCA named Grupp the best soloist in its 1993 championship competition and the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame named him an Associate Member in 2001.Grupp began his drum corps career in 1961 and 1962 with the Pine City Saints, and continued with the St. Paul Scouts in 1963 and 1964. Brian Schutta marched with the Madison Scouts horn line from 2001 to 2003, before aging out with Blue Devils in the contra line. He is an alum of Irondale High School's acclaimed marching program, where he instructed during 2001 and 2002. He's currently attending MusicTech College in St. Paul, Minn., studying to become a sound engineer. Jonathan Bomgardner holds a bachelor of music education degree from the College of New Jersey and a bachelor of arts in church music from Concordia University in St. Paul, Minn. He marched with the Crossmen in 1992 and 1993 and with Jersey Surf from 1993 to1996. He's served as director of bands at Washington Township High School in Sewell, N.J., where he assisted with the marching program and wrote drill. Andrew Erickson recently aged out of the Madison Scouts after his fifth season marching, and second as tuba section leader. He spent two years instructing at Champlin Park High School -- one of the fastest-rising programs in Minnesota -- and presently serves as visual caption head at Andover High School in Andover, Minn. Gregory Hahn marched with the Cavaliers from 2001-2004. He served as section leader of the mellophone line for two years and as a soloist in 2004. Hahn is beginning his fourth year as an instructor for Blue Springs High School in Missouri. Tom Richards has been a teacher at the junior high, high school and college levels since 1974. He has a master of music degree from the University of Michigan in wind instruments. In his 30 years as a teacher, Tom has directed marching ensembles of all sizes (50 – 250) and been successful at all levels. For audition information and materials for the Blue Stars brass line, check out theBlue Stars' Web site.