In 1998, the Drum Corps International World Championships returned to Orlando’s Citrus Bowl Stadium for the third consecutive year.
While the Blue Devils placed first in Quarterfinals, they slipped to second in Semifinals and ultimately third in Finals, finishing under the Cadets of Bergen County and Santa Clara Vanguard. The Cavaliers placed fourth with a show that celebrated the corps’ 50th anniversary.
The hometown corps, Magic of Orlando, slipped to 13th after being a finalist for the previous four years, and in 14th place, Spirit of Atlanta finished with the corps’ highest placement in seven years.
The Colts finished in 12th place after holding onto 11th in both the Quarterfinals and Semifinals. The group performed a show titled, “An A Cappella Celebration,” marking the Dubuque, Iowa corps’ 35th anniversary.
Mostly based on a variety of songs originally sung by a cappella choral groups, the show opened with “Crown Him With Many Crowns” as performed by GLAD.
The popular vocal ensemble was formed in 1972 and is considered one of the pioneers of progressive Christian pop/rock. The piece came from the opening track of GLAD’s 1998 album, “The A Cappella Project II.” The album largely focused on reinventing traditional worship music, with a couple contemporary pieces thrown into the mix.
Matthew Bridges and Godfrey Thring wrote the lyrics in 1851, setting the hymn to the 1800s tune, “Diademata,” which was composed by noted English organist Sir George Job Elvey. “Crown Him With Many Crowns” is not the only well-known song to be set to the tune, which is not unusual for liturgical music of that era. Since most people didn’t read music, hymn lyrics were often set to pre-existing melodies already known by parishioners.
Color guard members highlighted the opening fanfare with solid yellow and red flags. The colors were emblazoned on the silks diagonally, presenting a bright and optimistic tone to the visuals. These flags exclusively opened and closed the piece, with a middle section that featured 10 color guard members with sabers.
The next selection, “Searching for Reza,” was based on three separate tunes; “Searching for You” by Vox One, “Footprints” by Wayne Shorter, and “Reza” by Jaco Pastorius.
“Searching for You” was the first track off the Vox One album, “Out There,” an a cappella album recorded in 1995. Vox One is an a cappella jazz quintet formed in 1988 by Yumiko Matsuoka and fellow students of Berklee College of Music. The ensemble is known for combining various music styles such as blues, folk, and gospel, often utilizing various throat sounds for percussive effect or to duplicate the sound of a string bass, as was done in the original recording of this piece.
Shorter was a co-founder of Weather Report, the famous jazz-fusion band of the 1970s and early 1980s that gave drum corps the tune, “Birdland.” “Footprints” is a jazz standard first heard on his 1966 album, “Adam’s Apple,” which was recorded several years before he joined the group. On the football field, one of the notable features of the piece was four percussionists who each marched with racks of three suspended cymbals of different sizes.
Pastorius was the bassist for Weather Report. “Reza” was first performed on his third album, “Invitation,” recorded live in 1983 on a big band concert tour of Japan. The song brought Colts’ second production to a rousing conclusion, with three screaming soprano buglers pouring out the emotion up front.
“Morning” was a ballad that also came off Vox One’s “Out There” album. Wispy silvery-purple flags accompanied a delicate flugelhorn solo. The entire production took just two minutes, but due to its beauty, seemed to pass by even quicker.
Bringing things to a close, “Vox Finale” served as an extended closing tag written by corps arrangers Chuck Naffier and Jerry Carpenter, based on ideas heard earlier in “Morning,” but with a big drum corps ending.
Flags crosscut with yellow and brown diamond shapes opened the work, but then transitioned to solid flags of reds, oranges, and yellows to bring the show to a rousing finish.
Michael Boo was a member of the Cavaliers from 1975-1977. He has written about the drum corps activity for more than 35 years and serves as a staff writer for various Drum Corps International projects. Boo has written for numerous other publications and has published an honors-winning book on the history of figure skating. As an accomplished composer, Boo holds a bachelor's degree in music education and a master's degree in music theory and composition. He resides in Chesterton, Indiana.