Perhaps eyeing a bright future for a group with huge potential, Pacific Crest corps director Stuart Pompel changed the direction of the Crest's show this year from one best described in previous years as "gothic" and "tragic" to a show that is eminently more uplifting. "We wanted to take what we'd been doing, and do something a little bit more uplifiting -- intense visual images done in a more uplifting manner," Pompel said of the Pacific Crest program this year. This idea was partially hatched by a member survey Crest instructors passed out at the end of 2001. Likewise, program coordinator Dale Leaman wanted a show that could display the corps talent through many different styles of music and emotion.The 2002 Pacific Crest show features "Wonderful legato melodic lines juxtaposed against Middle Eastern and Mediterranean rhythmic elements," according to Pompel, musical elements that are not a far leap from Crest shows of the past. "That's what our trademark has been. It's great music," Pompel said.According to the Pacific Crest Web site, their 2002 show, "Reinvention," "draws exclusively from the music of Cirque du Soleil, an electric combination of theater and circus, music and light, which has turned 18 million audience members worldwide into devoted fans.""When Cirque du Soleil came out, they came out as a reinvention of the circus. We're doing the same thing, reinventing our show motif. We're about the only group that has this success with a limited touring model," Pompel said.Pacific Crest, of Diamond Bar, Calif., is an unusual drum corps because under this limited touring model, members do not devote an entire, full-time summer to the drum corps activity. "A number of students still attend summer school. Some work full-time and take classes," Pompel said, while conceding that, "as the group has gotten older, there have been fewer conflicts" with scheduling.And so far this season, with the corps sporting scores into the 70s in early July, the change in direction is working positively for the Pacific Crest."So far it's wonderful! The members are the most talented we've ever had. It's getting better every day," Pompel said.Pompel said that 55 to 60 percent of the corps has marched with the Pacific Crest for at least two years, a fact that has made earning a spot in the corps much more difficult. Pompel said that 45 people auditioned for 18 soprano parts this year.However, Pompel said that a certain amount of misinformation swirls around the Pacific Crest. "There's an assumption that we don't go to finals because we don't want to give up a full summer. But we are offering a superior-quality show to students who can't give up a whole summer," Pompel said.Pompel also said that some people assume that the Pacific Crest doesn't work as hard as other corps. "That's not even close to being the truth. We can get done in four hours what a lot of groups do in seven or eight hours," Pompel said. As for the future of the Pacific Crest, Pompel said the corps may make a trip to the Drum Corps International World Championships in Orlando, Fla., in 2003. "Orlando is an option we're looking into next year," Pompel said, adding that the corps may decide to tour the east coast as well. "We're willing to do one big trip," Pompel said. "We know we're going to do something big, we just don't know what yet."Pacific Crest is hosting a Drum Corps International show in Glendora, Calif., on Saturday, July 13.
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