The summer of 1988 was one of DCI's more interesting years. It was the first season that all World Class finalists had been in the Finals the year before. The results of the Prelims weren't announced until after the Finals competition, heightening suspense while making it kind of maddening for the fans who were so eager to know the scores. Also that year, the Finals night judges were selected by a random draw at the front of the field after the finalist corps were announced. Only 2 points separated the top five finalists at the DCI World Championships outside Kansas City, and the spread between 1st and 12th places—at 12 points—was the smallest ever seen at the Finals. Blue Devils were undefeated in 26 shows until they came to Arrowhead Stadium, where they slipped to 2nd in Prelims and 3rd in Finals. In the end, Santa Clara Vanguard finished 2nd place for the fourth year in a row, the only World Class corps ever to do so. Madison Scouts, who were out of competition for 20 days when they traveled to Europe for their 50th anniversary, defeated both the California powerhouses after enduring a regional scare a month earlier when the corps placed 4th at the Drum Corps Midwest Championship. With that accomplishment, the group won its second DCI title. Among the most memorable moments at the Finals was Santa Clara Vanguard's disappearing "Phantom of the Opera" and the Blue Devils' false ending, which was followed by each section of horns dropping out one-by-one as the corps left the field Velvet Knights took a "Magical Mystery Tour" to Europe, Africa and the USA, the highlight being the bullfight when the bull vanquished his oppressor and showed his disdain by lifting its high leg over the hapless toreador. Spirit of Atlanta was most uncharacteristic with Stravinksy's "Petrouchka" and Suncoast Sound brought us the wildly progressive and all-original music of "Symphonic Dances for the Contemporary Child." Madison Scouts' gold medal-winning 1988 presentation included "Left Bank" from Paul Hart's "Concerto for Guitar and Jazz Orchestra" and a steaming hot rendition of "Malague?±a." The production's opener was from a 1986 40-minute suite by the British composer Hart. The work was an atypical combination of classical guitar with jazz orchestra, written for the Australian guitar master, John Williams. Hart added many instruments to a typical jazz band, resulting in a large ensemble of 34 performers. Before Hart made a name as a composer, he was known as a prolific writer of British commercial jingles and British television and film music, and as the back-up violinist and pianist for jazz singer Cleo Laine. Madison would revisit his music in its 1990 and 1998 productions. Visually, the show started with a company front quickly evolving into two horn arcs for the opening fanfare, which saw the music take on the tone of a hoedown. The percussion mallet players laid down a contagious flurry of cheerfully jaunty riffs that pulsated throughout the piece. This happy feeling alternated with a heavy jazz punctuation that created a dichotomy of moods that kept one wondering where the music would go next. After a front ensemble break with a number of whimsical sound effects, a classical fugue between sections of the horns led into the finale of the piece, a brief company front followed by a short and extremely loud tag. The next movement from the concerto was a ballad, serving as a brief rest for the lips of the horn players and the ears of the audience. The horns turned around and headed backfield in silence at the end, overpowered during a crescendoing snare roll by the screams of the audience members who were anticipating the opening thermonuclear volley of "Malague?±a," Bill Holman's smoking arrangement of the Ernesto Lecuona Spanish classic. This rendition of "Malague?±a" was the ultimate in "higher, faster, louder" drum corps bliss, ripping apart the night sky with no apologies. The brass players came up to the front line to unleash their full power during a standstill moment. A full 360-degree pivot while each brass player marched in circular formation brought the horns into a large block wedge. The pivot was made all the more dramatic with half the horns turning to the left and the other half to the right while following a circular path into the wedge. The final last seconds to the end turned up the volume even more. For this week only, you can save on the Legacy Collection DVD that contains this complete Madison Scouts performance, along with all finalists from the 1988 DCI World Championships. Buy the 1988 Legacy Collection DVD. (Available this week only for 20% off. Regular price: $35.95.)
1988 Madison Scouts
Discount DVD offer ends Monday, Jan 14 at 8:30 a.m. ET.
Michael Boo was a member of the Cavaliers from 1975-1977. He has written about the drum corps activity for more than a quarter century and serves as a staff writer for various Drum Corps International projects. Boo has written for numerous other publications and has published an honors-winning book on the history of figure skating. As an accomplished composer, Boo holds a bachelor's degree in music education and a master's degree in music theory and composition. He resides in Chesterton, Ind.