Drum Corps International
Linked to History: Michael Cesario

Linked to History: Michael Cesario

by Michael Boo

Everyone knows something about Michael Cesario, who is featured as an historical commentator on each of the Drum Corps International Legacy Series CDs, who conducts the ongoing series of clinic sessions at major shows, and who has designed uniforms for so many of the activity's top units. Michael has been involved with the marching activity since 1957 and marched his first parade in a CYO band. He's produced costumes for Broadway, Las Vegas and television. But he's perhaps best known to us for his designs for drum corps. Michael reflects, "I get to do the things I know and the things I love. I get to design for so many corps, and as someone who's grown up with the corps, I get high on expressing their distinct personalities. "The first corps I ever saw was The Cavaliers in my hometown of Kenosha, Wisconsin, in 1960. They were out of this world and even then were known as the 'Green Machine.' At 55-years-old, I am as old as the corps. I have a special bond with them because of that. "I got to work with Jim Jones (Troopers founder) and Don Warren (The Cavaliers founder), among the other founders of Drum Corps International. I think everyone on the field should know the history of DCI and what it took for these and other corps directors to take this bold move to create an organization for the corps and by the corps. We should be down on our knees thanking the Dave Kampschroers (long-time Blue Stars director) and the George Bonfiglios (27th Lancers founder). "When I am working with young staffs, as I am doing with Madison, I like to think I'm their link to the founders of DCI, that I'm somehow linked to the history of the organization. "When you're talking about a uniform, you're talking about the first image of the corps you see. Can I capture that image in one second? It can't take any longer. Some groups...like Santa Clara Vanguard...I'm trying to distill the image. I went back to the original green, researched where the white bar came from, and went back to my SCV 'altar' to recapture a classic. "As for The Cadets, the new uniforms fit better and are easier to wear. They're different, but they capture the effect of the original while still being modern. For example, the cummerbund is under the jacket instead of over, so now air can get up there. The members used to use 30-some pins to get the jacket down and the cummerbund attached to it. Now they just zip up the back and are ready to go. "The new uniform gives the illusion of the effect of the old. There is a deeper maroon for higher contrast between the top and the pants. They wear cuffs now and hardly anyone has noticed. That's where the trim embroidery is. For the first time in corps history, everyone's trim is the same distance from the horn. "The whole thing goes in the washing machine. "Drum corps is theater on the grandest scale. We have a 100-yard stage. And you never get to go backstage. "With Madison's new uniform, I tried to get people to focus backstage, and so the uniform backs are different from the fronts. We took the dark green they formerly wore—as well as the fleur-de-lis—and wrapped the heritage elements in a new clarified version of a corps jacket. The old is wrapped in the new and the corps is connected to the past for the corps' 65th Anniversary. "The little mirror bar connects the old to the new, right at where the fleur-de-lis is normally joined. There are little shots of bright scarlet throughout, making the uniform 'buzz.' You don't 'see' it, you 'read' it. The scarlet 'buzzes' the green. The same goes for the scarlet on the hatbands. "Jeremy Hunt, Madison visual co-caption head, did the graphic of the new uniform on a computer for the side of the trucks and buses, which has generated quite some comment. It's based on a Ron Walloch photo of drum major John Newcomb. We tried to capture the majestic quality of the dynamic character of the corps. "I do a number of clinics each year at DCI events for high school and college band members, parents and other interested parties. I'm a host, taking them through the opportunity to meet the corps up close and personal. This year, we have Jessica Allen (guard) and Nick Angelis (percussion) who get in there and talk directly to participants one-on-one in front of the whole group. As host, I stand in for DCI. It's our party and I host the party. I love being able to see the performers be able to share their drum corps experiences with others."

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