2023 marked a major milestone for one of Drum Corps International’s most storied organizations.
The Cavaliers, a founding member of DCI and seven-time DCI World Champion, rang in the corps’ 75th season with a production that saluted the corps’ past and occasions that memorialized its anniversary summer.
And on the eve of the Green Machine’s Cavalcade of Brass home show in Lisle, Illinois at the beginning of July, The Cavaliers’ celebrations reached their pinnacle, as the corps hosted its 75th anniversary gala in the heart of the corps’ hometown.
“The entire season is a celebration for us,” Cavaliers board president Chris Hartowicz said. “That’s really what we’re trying to do is make it a celebration for ourselves and for the guys in the corps.”
Among an array of historic decorations and displays, gala attendees were able to view a pop-up museum with Cavaliers memorabilia, a souvenir shop and a performance from the 2023 corps, which included what Hartowicz described as a special moment for gala attendees.
This past Saturday, The Cavaliers celebrated our 75 year history with a Gala in @villageofrosemont Here are some of our...Posted by The Cavaliers on Wednesday, July 5, 2023
That moment came at the tail end of a retrospective video played at the gala. The video concluded with audio of The Cavaliers’ iconic bass drum cadence, “Iowa.” Soon enough, the 2023 membership who had assembled with their instruments in the convention hall, picked up the same beat as the video’s soundtrack winded down, an effect that caught many in the audience by surprise.
“The crowd that was watching the montage from in front of the room, all of a sudden, stood up and turned around to be able to see the performance,” Hartowicz said.
The gala, of course, brought together past and present generations of the Green Machine under one roof to bond over their experiences with the corps. This merging of generations was a major piece of 2023 corps members’ experiences.
“There are guys from as early as the 1950s and as recently as last year,” Cavaliers trumpet player Max Ando said. “Getting to swap stories and learn about how we’re different but also how we’re the same deep down is really special.”
Throughout the season, while perfecting a production that tied together musical motifs from many of The Cavaliers’ most storied summers, performers had the opportunity to connect on an extra-special layer with members of the Green Machine from years gone by.
“It’s fun to see all the alumni reactions to what we’ve been doing all season,” Cavaliers battery percussion section leader Garrett Irwin said. “It’s a really special relationship at The Cavaliers, between the members and the alumni. I met somebody who marched in the 1960s, and I feel like I’ve known them for ages.”
The Cavaliers’ gala was just one of many opportunities for current and former Cavaliers to bond and develop friendships over the summer.
The night after the corps’ anniversary celebration, at the Cavalcade of Brass DCI Tour event in Lisle on July 2, the 2023 corps held a joint encore performance with alumni.
Ringing in 75 years with The Cavaliers' alumni in Lisle!!
Ringing in 75 years with The Cavaliers' alumni in Lisle!! Rebroadcasts and select #DCI2023 archives available on FloMarching » dci.fan/WatchLive23 #DCI2023 | The CavaliersPosted by Drum Corps International on Sunday, July 2, 2023
The combined performance of such Cavaliers classics as “Boogie Down,” “Tiger Rag” and “Sing, Sing, Sing,” provided many moments of awe shared between the current and alumni corps.
“It’s always a joy to get together with these guys, because they eat up the history,” former Cavaliers snare drummer Scott McCoy said. “So it’s all this interaction and seeing their wonderment, but of course, we’re totally in awe of them.”
“They’re just ridiculously talented and doing things that if we were to be asked to do half the stuff they are doing now, we would have said no,” McCoy continued. “They’re doing things way beyond any skill set that I can comprehend.”
With the 2023 DCI Tour and 75th anniversary celebrations in the rearview mirror, The Cavaliers’ focus is forward and onward.
As recruitment gets underway for next summer, and as the corps looks ahead to the next chapter in its illustrious history, it’ll be doing so with new leadership at the helm, following the announced plans for executive director Monte Mast and corps director Dr. Michael Vaughn to retire following the 2024 season.
“We will be hard pressed to find successors who will show the dedication and love for the organization and the membership that these two gentlemen have displayed,” Hartowicz said. “I could not have asked for better partners.”
But even with leadership changes on the horizon, The Cavaliers plan to remain committed to their mission, education, excellence, and creating a positive experience for decades of future participants.
“We talk about in our mission a lifelong sense of belonging to an organization,” said Cavaliers board member Dale Young, who will become board president beginning October 1. “Teaching young people to be excellent human beings and to respect each other, that is a foundation of who we are, and that will be the bedrock of everything we do in the future.”