In the 2011 DCI World Championship Semifinals on Friday, Aug. 12, the Cadets again took the lead in the race to the top, maintaining the half-point lead over Blue Devils it established in the preliminary competition on Thursday. The Cadets (1st, 97.80) were among the 12 corps earning spots in the Finals competition that will wrap up the 2011 season at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Saturday, Aug. 13. Cadets director George Hopkins said his corps remained successful by tapping into a higher level of emotion than seen in prior shows and by getting comfortable performing in the cavernous Lucas Oil stadium. Tuba player and Cadets "angel" Kevin O'Brien described his corps' success as "a dream come true from start to finish," while his tuba "demon" counterpart Brian Farkas described the evening as "surreal." Tears and cheers erupted from the members of Spirit of Atlanta (86.55) after their Friday performance when they found out they earned the 12th spot in the Finals competition.
Spirit's last appearance at the DCI Finals was in 2007. "It's a fantastic feeling!" said color guard member Stephanie Born, who described the corps' performance as the best yet. "We've been working so hard all season for this, and it's just a great feeling to get the corps back up where it belongs. I can't even describe how great this feeling is," she said. The Blue Devils (2nd, 97.30) have one more opportunity on Saturday to capture the coveted top spot and they continue to put their all into each performance in pursuit of that goal. Devils euphonium Michael Hatch remarked that the corps' performance "had so much energy that it was by far the best performance ever." The Cavaliers (96.90) maintained their hold on the third place spot, continuing to inch their score higher with each performance and keeping within four tenths of a point of the Blue Devils. Carolina Crown members rocked their way to a 95.65, keeping their fourth place spot and narrowing the gap between them and the Cavaliers to 1.25 points.
Spirit of Atlanta
Fifth place went to Phantom Regiment (93.95) for its embodiment of the classic tome "Romeo and Juliet." The production titled "Juliet" is told from the heroine's point of view. Regiment director Rick Valenzuela remarked that the competitive element of his corps' performances is secondary to creating engaging entertainment for the crowds. "To be able to go out and put what you love on the line every night and to go out and be emotionally available for the thousands of people watching you, that's difficult to do, and these guys are doing a great job of doing it," he said. "This show, the vehicle and the program [program director] Dan Farrell and the design staff have put together, has been amazing and a great ride. I'm glad we have one more show." Santa Clara Vanguard's eerie and extremely physically demanding program, "The Devil's Staircase," earned it a score of 92.20 and sixth place, while the Bluecoats took seventh place with a 91.60. The Boston Crusaders (90.35) trailed more than a point behind, putting them in eighth place.
For the eighth year in a row, the Blue Knights (9th, 89.40) will advance to the Finals and perform their show, "An English Folk Song Suite" one last time. They will be joined by the Madison Scouts (10th, 88.35) and the Blue Stars (11th, 87.00) in Saturday's competition. The Glassmen (13th, 83.40) just missed the top 12 and will not advance to the Finals for the first time since 2003. Hot on their heels were the Troopers, who earned a score of 83.20 and 14th place. In its eighth season as a competitive corps, the Academy took 15th place with an 82.65, more than half a point higher than its Prelims score. The Colts maintained their hold on 16th place and improved their score nearly a point in one day, to 82.25, while the Crossmen stayed in 17th place, earning an 81.05. "We wanted to show everyone what a great drum corps this is and give them a very enjoyable performance," said Crossmen baritone player Chris Jarvis. Jarvis is finishing his last season after seven years with the Crossmen. "As a leader, I had to lead by example and show other members the relentlessness that you need to have to be great in this activity," he said, explaining that he will use those important skills in life after drum corps.
Pacific Crest (18th) ended its season nearly a full point above its score from Thursday's Prelims competition with a 77.75. Open Class Champions Blue Devils B made an impressive showing against the World Class corps, earning a 76.45 and 19th place over four World Class and two Open Class corps. Teal Sound (75.75), in only its second year in the World Class, squeezed past Mandarins (21st, 75.70) to take 20th place. "It was a fantastic performance—so much fun. The energy with everyone was remarkably higher than yesterday," said Mandarins tuba player Mel Marandola about the corps' final show. "This season we had a remarkable connection between the members of the horn line that was really exciting." The two other Open Class contenders, Oregon Crusaders (22nd, 75.15) and Vanguard Cadets (23rd, 72.85) each also made strong showings in competition against World Class corps, coming out on top of Cascades (24th, 72.20) and Jersey Surf (25th, 71.35). Cascades color guard member Jessica Head explained that her corps' last performance of 2011 was the color guard section's best of the season. "It was really great to come into the stadium and be able to feed off the energy of the entire guard because we just pulled together," she said.
"You experience all of the highs and the lows with the whole group, and that makes for some great bonds," Head said of her season with the Cascades. "I have made the best friends I've ever had here. It's hard coming to the end and having to say goodbye." The evening concluded with a celebration of all the amazing people involved in drum corps; the Volunteers of the Year, DCI Hall of Fame inductees, and scholarship winners were all recognized, and the field was taken over by 21- and 22-year-old corps members in the annual Age-Out Ceremony. The 12 corps advancing from the Semifinals will have one more shot to perform during the 2011 season in the Finals competition, which kicks off at 5:30 pm on Saturday, Aug. 13. View a complete recap of scores from this event. View the complete schedule of 2011 World Championship events.