Drum Corps International
DVD Spotlight of the Week: 2004 Boston Crusaders, 'The Composition of Color'

DVD Spotlight of the Week: 2004 Boston Crusaders, 'The Composition of Color'

by Michael Boo


2004 Boston Crusaders
In 1977 and 1978, the DCI World Championship Finals took place at Denver's Mile High Stadium (the Prelims both of those years were held at the University of Colorado's Folsom Field in Boulder). DCI returned to the three-year-old Invesco Field at Mile High in 2004, which sat immediately next to where the old stadium had been. The Cavaliers "007" barely edged Blue Devils' train show by 0.175 to take the title. It wasn't until the week before that the two corps had met for the first time that season. As Blue Devils chugged out of the stadium in a surprise "train leaving the station" move added as a surprise for the Finals performance, a banner flew over the tunnel proclaiming, "Jerry is watching." (Just a few months earlier, the corps had lost their founder and longtime director Jerry Seawright.) Santa Clara Vanguard's "Scheherazade" show was amazingly popular, and the Cadets surprised many with the addition of a featured baton twirler for much of their Jethro Tull show. Only 0.075 separated the Glassmen from Spirit of Atlanta in the Semifinals, with Glassmen making it to the Finals. For many, the biggest news of the 2004 summer season was the allowed use of electronic amplification. Corps took diverse approaches to the availability of the technology; some fans regarded it as a logical extension of innovation, while others considered it a toy not in the spirit of "real" drum corps. Some uses were as subtle as Blue Devils' delicate amplification of a clay udu drum during "Summertime," in contrast to Carolina Crown's beatnik poetry and singing before and during a selection from "Rent." Boston Crusaders' 9th place "The Composition of Color" was a journey through the color spectrum, beginning with a clean palette of white, with colors, both visual and aural, gradually soaking the field until the show's conclusion.
Most of the show was original music by brass and percussion staff members Frank Sullivan, Jay Kennedy, Rich Viano and Jerry Carpenter. "Introduction" showed that the Crusaders were going to utilize amplification for the purpose of narration, explaining the emotional impact of color on our daily lives. A minute into the start of the show, the horn line poured out of four large white boxes on stage left of the field. Flags changed between black and white on one side and gray and yellow on the other, depending on the direction in which they were spun. Color guard uniforms were white and black, with color to be added as the show progressed. Red flags were unveiled a couple minutes before the end of the opening piece, with a lone guard member in red appearing at the very end.

2004 Boston Crusaders
"Colored Rhythms" was based on Morten Lauridsen's "O Magnum Mysterium" and was the emotional highlight of the show. Reflecting the reverent nature of the piece, the guard members added shades of blues and purples to their costumes, colors important in the liturgical calendar of the church. Known as America's most-performed choral composer, Lauridsen's rendition of the sacred liturgy sung during the early morning nighttime hours during the Christmas season has quickly become the best-known work among the hundreds of pieces with the same title. If you've never heard his masterwork in its original version, check out this performance by the King's College Choir from Cambridge, England. "Colored Dynamics," heard in the accompanying video clip, explored the many qualities of a variety of colors, with the color guard now sporting several colors. One could be forgiven for thinking this piece was inspired by Frank Ticheli's "Blue Shades," as the similarities seem fairly strong. "Colored Combinations" began with the corps' own amplified udu (it was a good year for udu enthusiasts). The guard members all handled flags of matching colors to their varied costumes. The work was all hype and intensity; emotions the Crusaders have long done best. "Closing" opened with the corps facing backfield and then disappearing into the voids of four large black boxes to stage right of the field. The colors of the guard ultimately were sucked into the void of the black boxes as the narrator exclaimed, "The mind, like the hand, is colored by what it holds."

For this week only, you can save on the DVD set that contains this complete Boston Crusaders performance, along with all finalists from the 2004 DCI World Championships.

Buy the 2004 World Championship DVD set. (Available this week only for 20% off. Regular price: $39.95.) Discount DVD offer ends Monday, July 22, 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.

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