An almost entirely new design staff working with the Jersey Surf in 2018, is fostering a new level of excitement amongst corps members with the 2018 Drum Corps international Tour nearing.
In the off-season, the Camden County, New Jersey-based corps bolstered the team tasked with bringing the ensemble’s competitive production to life. Led by Thomas Kershaw, a seasoned southern New Jersey band director in his first year as the corps’ program coordinator, other new team members include noted drill designer Mitch Rogers, color guard designer Rob Watson and front ensemble arranger Bobby Scott.
Fourth-year percussion director Christopher Lawlor also brings a new element to the team while adding arranging duties to his plate this summer, while Dr. Andrew Yozviak returns to the corps as musical director and arranger for a fifth year, adding the perspective of a seasoned collegiate music educator and Jersey Surf design team veteran to the mix.
“The design staff is really completely different from the top down,” said fourth-year Jersey Surf member Connor Brown who serves as one of the corps’ two 2018 drum majors. “They’ve really set an expectation that is much higher than we’ve ever had, and the members are responding to that really well.”
During the corps’ recent rehearsal camp April 27-29 in Sicklerville, New Jersey, Kershaw presented an almost hour-long overview to corps members about the group’s 2018 production which is titled, “[mondo mondrian].” As part of the presentation held in the school’s cafetorium, he walked performers through each segment of the show explaining how their individual parts would combine to fit into the whole of the production.
The new design team hosted its first planning calls back in October, and before they even started thinking about a specific theme or musical selections, Kershaw says that the group worked to set some basic expectations for the creative process and how this year’s show would be assembled.
“Initially we came up with an overarching direction that we think the drum corps needed to go in,” Kershaw said. “The first thing we thought is that we needed a straightforward concept … No story to follow. No character development. We wanted to go purely on an emotional drive.”
Kershaw explained to corps members that a secondary focus among the design team centered on the “clarity of design” of this year’s production.
“We needed to make sure that what the music says matches the visual and matches what we’re doing choreography-wise … that every element; brass, percussion, and visual, all work together to support the theme.”
“[mondo mondrian]” will take many of its visual cues from some of the best-known works of Dutch painter Piet Mondrian. From stage sets to color guard costumes to the corps’ uniforms, the look and visual effects showcased on the football field will be inspired by the lines and color combinations of Mondrian’s grid-based paintings.
We are extremely pleased to present the musical source material for our 2018 [mondo mondrian] repertoire. Check us out on the Drum Corps International Tour this summer!Posted by Jersey Surf World Class Drum Corps on Thursday, May 3, 2018
To complement such a strong visual focus, the corps chose to explore a number of diverse artists for its repertoire including works by Steve Reich, Hans Zimmer, Chopin, The Who, and David Maslanka.
“The beauty of Mondrian’s work is that it’s very structured,” Kershaw said. “He boiled things down into simple color. With simple color we are able to look into that color and extract, ‘What is it to feel red?’ and ‘What is it to feel blue?’ And then pair it with an appropriate musical selection that’s going to highlight the feeling we would get and the emotional attachment to that color.”
In addition to sectional and ensemble musical rehearsals, corps members spent a chunk of their April camp together learning the drill formations to the production’s opening number.
“This is definitely one of the hungrier corps I’ve been a part of,” Brown said. “People are raring to go. This is one of the best-playing, best-marching corps that I’ve been a part of.”
Jersey Surf will kick off its spring training rehearsals the weekend of June 8 in preparation for the corps’ first competitive performance on July 7 in Lexington, South Carolina.