Since 1985, the Drum Corps International Hall of Fame has honored individuals who have left their indelible impressions on the drum corps activity. Each winter, members of the drum corps community participate in a nomination process, informing DCI's Hall of Fame Committee of those whom they feel should be recognized as part of drum corps' legacy. Each April, current Hall of Fame members and corps directors participate in an election process to decide who will join the ranks of this prestigious institution. Three individuals have been selected for induction as the DCI Hall of Fame Class of 2010.
Robert W. Smith
Robert W. Smith may best be known to fans for being at the forefront of creating original programming for drum corps in the 1980s. A brass arranger who brought the Florida-based Suncoast Sound to prominence during the corps' finalist seasons of 1983-1989, he also wrote shows for the Velvet Knights, Spirit of Atlanta, Magic of Orlando, Glassmen and the Cadets.
Smith was with Suncoast Sound from the corps' earliest days and through his arranging and brass instruction, rapidly brought the corps into the DCI World Championship Finals in 1983. In 1984, his show based on the 1960s and the Vietnam War prominently featured some original compositions. But it was his 1985 "Florida Suite" that was the first to exclusively feature new works of music specifically composed for a drum corps. Arranger and fellow Hall of Fame member Jay Kennedy '07 writes that this show and others Smith created are, "exemplars and seminal events in the development of the drum corps activity."
Listen to the 1985 Suncoast Sound:
Another original program in 1988, Smith's "Symphonic Dances for the Contemporary Child" shocked many and left an indelible impression on the memories of fans. Arranger Jay Bocook '09 says that Smith's productions were "full of emotion, effect and passion; and the visual program was in full synch with the music. It changed the way all of us looked at putting shows together. The music was like a great soundtrack to a film."
After his time with Suncoast Sound, Smith stayed true to his Florida roots founding Magic of Orlando. Again he was able to raise that corps to World Championship Finalist status.
Outside of the drum corps activity Smith is a well-respected composer and writer of educational materials for school bands, which has earned him a place in the prestigious American Bandmasters Association. "In a bygone era of drum corps we, as a drum corps society, needed credibility with the band community," says Freddy Martin '07. "Few have given that credibility as clearly and completely as Robert W. Smith."
In his letter of nomination, corps director Howard Weinstein recollects what he learned from Smith as a member of Suncoast Sound. "He had an ability to teach us about music and life, in a way that gave us unlimited potential. Each and every one of us learned and understood the value drum corps had and continues to have in our lives, both on and off the field."
Since the very first DCI World Championship in 1972, Brandt Crocker has been "The Voice of DCI" for countless thousands of drum corps members, instructors, directors and fans. It would not be an overestimation to say that millions have heard Crocker's voice live and tens of millions more have heard him via DCI's PBS and ESPN2 broadcasts and on DCI CDs and DVDs.
In his letter of support, DCI Staff Writer Michael Boo wrote, "For life-long drum corps fans, it's practically impossible to imagine a DCI World Championship without hearing Brandt's enthusiasm over the stadium public address system. It is an iconic sound that belongs distinctively to Drum Corps International, an auditory touchstone that carries the same power to evoke drum corps memories as diesel fumes or the sound of a drum line warming up."
Listen to a compilation of Crocker's opening announcements:
Dan Potter, DCI announcer and host of DCI's Field Pass podcast, wrote, "With the exception of four unusual years when the requirements of local politics took priority over precedent and clarity, Brandt Crocker is the only performer who has taken the stage at every DCI World Championship."
Cavaliers founder Don Warren wrote, "Brandt's experience and knowledge of drum corps helps make the total show a wonderful experience for everyone—both corps and audiences. His voice and personality is expected by all." DCI show directors Tony DiCarlo and Dale Antoine wrote in their letter of support when Brandt opens a big DCI show with "Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Drum Corps International World Championships!" the scene becomes electrified.
James Paxton, Tour and Event Partner coordinator for the DCI Summer Music Games of Southwest Virginia, wrote that he first came across Brandt's voice in 1977 while channel surfing and by chance encountering the DCI broadcast on PBS. He recounts how Brandt was instrumental in setting up the first meetings for show promoters at the DCI Annual Meeting, adding, "In my capacity as a public school band director, I have had numerous students participate in the activity. To a person, those who participated in Championships commented to me on the thrill and pride they felt the first time they heard their corps' name announced by 'The Voice.'"
Crocker's involvement in drum corps pre-dates DCI. He was helping the late Jim Jones manage the Troopers when Jones and twelve other brave corps directors formed Drum Corps International in 1972. Pressed into service as the show announcer at the first World Championships in Whitewater, Wis., Brandt had no script, no real precedent to guide him, and no clear instructions about what he should, or should not say. All he had was a list of the corps competing and their hometowns.
When the first corps in prelims was ready to step off, Brandt simply said, "On the starting line..." For the next few decades, those would be the four memorable words that started all major drum corps competitions.
Raymond J. Baumgardt
Raymond J. Baumgardt may be most notably remembered for his work with the Madison Scouts in the 1970s, but overall he was one of the drum corps activity's most prolific music arrangers. At the head of early "concept shows," Baumgardt arranged "Alice in Wonderland" for the Madison Scouts as well as the Cavaliers' groundbreaking 1971 "Circus Show." Throughout his drum corps career, Baumgardt created some of the most memorable drum corps arrangements of all time including "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue," "McArthur Park," "The Way We Were," "Rhapsody in Blue," "Ballet in Brass" and "Brian's Song." Also working with the Spirit of Atlanta, Cavaliers, Troopers, 27th Lancers, Colts, Capitolaires and the Erie Thunderbirds Senior Corps, his work influenced an entirely new generation of drum corps arrangers.
Baumgardt served as the Madison Scouts' musical director from 1969 through 1979. Hall of Fame member James Elvord '97, credits Baumgardt for the corps' revival from its "dark ages" in the 1960s.
Listen to the 1975 Madison Scouts:
In his letter of nomination, Wayne Downey '91 of the Blue Devils, recognizes Baumgardt's "creative genius" which set "a new direction creatively in the world of drum corps." Downey remembers himself as an aspiring arranger in the early '70s, "overwhelmed with the creativity and genius of both Ray and [Santa Clara Vanguard's] Gail Royer." Jay Bocook '09 admits that Ray was his idol, explaining that he was "an arranger's arranger." He says, "[Ray] had immense vocabulary, range and could bring passion through writing technique. He taught me that virtually any style of music could be brought to the field without compromising the integrity of the original."
Arranger Frank Dorritie says, "Not one of us has ever surpassed [Ray's] knack for sparking the connection between music and audience," adding, "For many of us, Ray Baumgardt has occupied Hall of Fame status for years." Paul Litteau '99, who worked as a visual consultant with the Madison Scouts at the same time as Baumgardt's contributions to the corps, sums up Ray's contributions to the activity stating, "The loud and long standing ovations still ringing through stadiums many years later give testimony to the audience appeal and accessibility of Ray's work."
Baumgardt passed away in 1997.
Learn more about the Drum Corps International Hall of Fame.