Billed as a show that’s “uncomplicated” and designed to “simply entertain,” the Madison Scouts will take the field on the 2019 Drum Corps International Tour with their competitive production, “Majestic.”
The program takes its title from Madison, Wisconsin’s historic Majestic Theater, a venue opened in 1906 that sits just down the street from the Wisconsin state capitol building.
Going through a variety of changes over the last century, the Majestic has featured everything from vaudeville acts to theatre to movies to countless bands and artists. The melodious heritage of the building — and the blank canvas it can provide — is what excited the Scouts design team when coming up with this year’s show concept.
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“Like the theater, we just want you to hear good productions, solid productions,” Scouts artistic director James Elvord said. “We chose ‘Majestic’” because it doesn’t tie us to anything. It’s just like Madison: It’s majestic, it’s a majestic night, it’s majestic music, it’s majestic productions.”
Elvord, a 1997 DCI Hall of Fame inductee who headed Madison Scouts' brass section and show design in the 1970s, including the corps’ 1975 DCI Championship season, returns this year after retiring from a 30-year career in the finance industry. Looking to breathe new life into a corps that’s ping-ponged in and out of the DCI World Championship Finals over the last several years, Elvord has brought on board a new design and instructional staff to work with the corps this season.
“We have a balance of mature individuals, in that they’ve been around the activity for a long time, and then we have a group of really budding young superstars,” Elvord said about the staff roster. “When you look at us, what we tried to do was close the gap quickly by bringing these established individuals who maybe have been out of the activity like myself for a little while, while putting them with those hotshots who do this stuff every day of their lives.”
“Majestic” will feature a diverse repertoire that will take viewers through a variety of styles. Kicking off with an up-tempo original piece from brass caption head and arranger Chuck Naffier titled “Afterburners,” the corps will also delve into contemporary works by English composer Simon Dobson and Wisconsin-based Indie folk band Bon Iver, classics from Blood, Sweat & Tears and Barry Manilow, in addition to Benjamin Britten’s “The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra.”
In “Majestic,” the Madison Scouts combine a varied soundscape that spans decades, genres, and instrumentation. Uncomplicated, these musical staples are designed to simply entertain, musically and visually. — MadisonScouts.org
Visually, the corps has plans to throw things back to the Madison Scouts of yesteryear. Costuming will be inspired by the tan-colored Boy Scout uniforms the corps wore in its earliest years, and the sound and even the swagger of the corps will instill memories of some of Madison’s most successful decades.
“It’s going to be a new taste,” Elvord said. “But still the kind of things you can look at and say, ‘My mom and dad told me about that drum corps and that’s what they were like.’ You’ll be able to say, ‘Wow, they’ve got that kind of emotion and sound and they look so elegant and masculine,’ and ‘Oh wow, this is what old-school drum corps was like.’ But with new techniques. Obviously we want to be as presentable and competitive with our colleagues as possible.”
Another visual feature, or rather lack thereof, according to Elvord, will be the absence of any props or stage sets on the football field, leaving the corps’ visual designers an open playbook to fit the musical selections.
The 2019 Madison Scouts will gather in Trafalgar, Indiana beginning May 19 to begin their spring training rehearsals, before heading up to Wisconsin to kick off the competitive portion of their summer tour on June 22 in the corps’ hometown.