Crossmen's 1994 "Suite Children" was the third and final installment in the corps' excursion across Planet Earth. In 1992, the corps announced it was embarking on the three-year program, starting with the sixth-place "Songs for the Planet Earth," a warning about environmental awareness that awarded the corps its highest placement up until then. Then, in 1993, the eighth-place "Songs for the Planet Earth, Part II—A Celebration of Humanity" explored different cultures and peoples from around the world. "Suite Children," which tied for seventh place at the DCI World Championships, presented the case that for humanity and the environment to survive and thrive, faith must be entrusted in the children of the world. The show wrapped up the multi-part production with a fond glance back to the innocence of children and a hopeful glance forward to the future of humankind. A brief chorale opened the show with the color guard members dressed as knickers-wearing children. The guard frolicked through and around the horn line as the front ensemble percussion parts introduced the show, its members pantomiming children at play. Chuck Mangione's "Land of Make Believe," treated in a bright samba manner, delved into the imagination and fantasy of childhood innocence, including a quotation of the lullaby, "Go to Sleep." A continuously shuffling beat of many layers of Latin percussion was reminiscent of the corps' "Groove Machine" drum writing from years earlier. Barbara Streisand's flowing rendition of Stephen Sondheim's "Children Will Listen" from the production "Into the Woods" was largely played by the horns while sitting on the field cross-legged, with the drum line percussion kneeling down next to their drums. The color guard moved within the horn section, gently swaying to and fro in a balletic manner, and then became surrounded by a single large arc once the horn players stood up. Gently moving with one another and taking a short nap on the field, this was the moment of the show where pure innocence was allowed to take its time and breathe gently across the faces of the fans in the stands.
Brass arranger Matt Krepansky's big band arrangement of "Pop Goes the Weasel" let the children embrace their inner impishness. This also included a percussion feature interlude, with the snares coming forward to a rack of suspended cymbals. Bright blocks of different colors across the flag line added to the joyous festivity, ending with the front ensemble playing the well-known "na-na, na-na, na-na" taunt. After three years, it was time to come home to "Songs for the Planet Earth—Finale," which started with a short rendition of Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man," amidst giant billowing waves of pastel blue, yellow and green flags sweeping over multiple Planet Earth spheres. The flags gave the abstracted impression of glimpses of grass, water and sunshine. "The Rain Forest" by Full Circle, brought back from two years earlier, was particularly catchy in how it combined a very quick 6/8 meter with a slower marching pulse in 3.
Performance excerpt of the 1994 Crossmen.
This brief clip led into Paul Winter's melancholic "Journey Under the Sun," heard in each of the previous two "Songs for Planet Earth" installments. The essence of a variety of national flags filled the field to remind us that children are the same across the globe, a fact often forgotten amidst intense rivalries between world powers and their leaders. The tempo suddenly picked up as the corps set to put an exclamation mark on the finale of the three-year project. Four large silks on extra-long poles, each containing three large block images of children, joined the flags of universal peace and harmony. It was a most fitting ending to the final production of what was a very popular musical journey for the Crossmen. Except it wasn't the end. The brass and percussion players, amidst the thunderous applause of the audience, set their instruments down and scattered across the field, laying down to the music box tinkling of the front ensemble's mallet instruments and spelling out "Children are the future" in a combination of upper and lower case letters. Saved for the very end of the season, this final gesture remains one of the most indelible few seconds of perfect drum corps bliss that will never be forgotten by anyone who was blessed to be sitting in the stands of Foxboro Stadium. It took a couple seconds for the audience to realize what exactly had transpired, but when they did, their collective faces must have had the biggest, widest smiles that ever lit up the front stands at a drum corps event. For this week only, you can save on the Legacy Collection DVD that contains this complete Crossmen performance, along with all finalists from the 1994 DCI World Championships. Buy the 1994 Legacy Collection DVD. (Available this week only for $28. Regular price: $35.)
1994 in Perspective
Discount DVD offer ends Monday, April 9 at 8:30 a.m. ET.
Legacy Collection: 1994 in Perspective
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.