Drum Corps International
Santa Clara Vanguard celebrates four decades of excellence

Santa Clara Vanguard celebrates four decades of excellence

by Drum Corps International

Four decades of excellence were honored at the Santa Clara Vanguard 40th Anniversary Celebration Banquet held at the Marriot Hotel in Santa Clara, Calif. on Aug. 5, 2007. Santa Clara Vanguard alumni and supporters from many years and all 2007 corps members attended the anniversary celebration. The corps also used the event as an opportunity to host the corps' annual awards banquet which is typically held in October.

Various Vanguard props and uniforms were proudly on display during
the corps' 40th anniversary celebration on Aug. 5.
One of the captivating bonuses of the evening was a large display of historical corps memorabilia – uniforms, costumes, flags and props – including the chair on which the corps' legendary Phantom of the Opera character last sat on during the 1989 DCI World Championship season. "This celebration is important to the corps because of the opportunity we have to recognize what came before us," said current Santa Clara Vanguard corps director Jeff Pearson at the event. Pearson was a baritone player with the corps from 1981-1985. "The foundation has been laid, and we get to recognize and celebrate it today." Dan Smith is a founding member of the corps who marched from 1967-1969. He also marched prior to the formation of Santa Clara Vanguard as a member of the Sunnyvale Sparks, the corps out of which the Vanguard sprung. He reminded the audience of the corps' founding including how founder, the late Gail Royer, and the entire Santa Clara Vanguard organization decided forgo defending their VFW National Championship in 1972 in order to participate in and support the newly formed Drum Corps International organizational body. I can't imagine the drum corps activity without Santa Clara and all that they represent including the tradition and class and the standard of excellence that they have always had about themselves. Longtime Drum Corps International announcer Brandt Crocker next took the podium and shared personal stories about his memories of the corps, becoming quite emotional when reflecting on what the Vanguard means to him. "I can't imagine the drum corps activity without Santa Clara and all that they represent including the tradition and class and the standard of excellence that they have always had about themselves. "As for special recollections, I remember Vanguard members running to the starting line in Whitewater (Wis.) for the 1973 World Championship. They arrived late and they realized that they were late. They ran up the hill, behind the press box, around the hill, down the stairs, to the starting line and then performed in finals competition. They didn't get a penalty for being late and they ended up winning." Crocker generated a full room standing ovation when he ended with his familiar announcement, "On the field, from Santa Clara, California, the Santa Clara Vanguard!" In tribute to the corps' first Drum Corps International World Championship in 1973, a video was shown of the corps stepping off-the-line to Clifton Williams' "Fanfare and Allegro." Long thought to be lost to posterity, this performance was found in the archives of Troopers' founder and long-time corps director, the late Jim Jones, who had the foresight to record the shows of corps at every event at which the Troopers were performing. Additional historical corps performance video segments followed with discussion from Jeff Pearson and others about the impact those moments had on the history of Santa Clara Vanguard and the entire drum corps community. Through many years, the Vanguard has been known for pushing innovation and creativity while still holding strong to traditional roots.
"It's difficult living up to the name 'Vanguard,' which literally means to be on the edge," said Key Poulan, who has worked as Santa Clara Vanguard's brass arranger for the last five years. "(As the show designers), we try to figure out what that edge is every year, and it's often a difficult task. Most design meetings get pretty crazy in that we're trying to push the envelope yet maintain tradition. That's a fine line and we keep battling it all the time." And at 40 years and counting with six World Championship titles and countless other honors to the corps' name, all those who have been and are currently involved with Santa Clara Vanguard can celebrate the successful history of this West Coast organization while looking ahead to the decades to come. "Back in 1967 when Gail Royer founded the corps, he began something that is different and unique," Pearson said. "We have the privilege to celebrate his contributions and those of all the people who have helped make this drum corps what it is today."

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