Drum Corps International
Spotlight of the Week: 2000 Madison Scouts, 'The Cossack Brotherhood'
DCI Defualt ImagePhoto by: Drum Corps International

Spotlight of the Week: 2000 Madison Scouts, 'The Cossack Brotherhood'

by Drum Corps International


2000 Madison Scouts
Mention the year 2000 to drum corps fans and the first thing to pop to mind is the tie for the Championship title between the Cadets and the Cavaliers, the second tie for the title in two years and the third in five years. Final positions were tight up and down the board, with eight placements in the Finals decided by fourth tenths of a point or less. With the 2000 World Championships taking place in College Park, Maryland, the Madison Scouts finished the year in 10th place, the corps' lowest placement since DCI's inaugural season in 1972. Madison's production of "The Cossack Brotherhood," captured the passion of the Slavic peoples from Ukraine and southern Russia who were esteemed for their military service to the Tsars, protecting their lands from invading hordes. Ultimately, the Cossacks were largely neutralized after the Russian Revolution, and up to a half million were killed at the hands of the Bolsheviks. But their culture lives on, permeating the entire region. With the corps spread throughout the entire field, the show opened with a brief selection from "Finale" from Dmitri Shostakovich's "The Gadfly," which is the 12th and final movement of the suite extracted from the composer's film score for the 1955 Soviet movie of the same name. The color guard was featured prominently throughout the show, starting with impossible-to-miss golden flags and long red Cossack jackets. After some blazingly fast soprano bugle runs, the horns and drums coalesced in a block diamond around the guard members, quickly reversing positions while introducing Lev Knipper's "Meadowlands." Knipper was an active agent of the Soviet secret police and studied music with Reinhold Glière, composer of "Russian Sailor's Dance." "Meadowlands (Song of the Plains)" was composed in 1933, with lyrics supplied by Viktor Gusev, telling the story of a Soviet army recruit leaving home to protect the motherland. Gusev is famed for writing lyrics for many patriotic Soviet military songs.
A climactic burst of 5/4 time signature jazz music visually led into a block diamond of the 64 brass players. That formation culminated with the center square of four horns quickly rotating around itself, followed by the next square of 12 horns outlining its square in contrary motion, followed by the larger square of 20 horns in the same direction as the smallest square, and finally the outside square of 28 horns moving in the opposite direction—all this while the overall block was moving two-and-a-half yards to the side and the front. It was one of the visual highlights of the year. The following production started with a brief and mournful mallet and contra interlude, followed by the upbeat "Galop," the last of six movements of "Ballet Suite No. 1," a Shostakovich work arranged by Lev Atovmyan. The suite was created in 1950 as one of four ballet suites created for radio broadcasts, each extracted from the composer's prior ballets for the theater. The bulk of this production was from the 1935 ballet, "The Limpid Stream," a light and oft-humorous production about ballet dancers sent to provide highbrow entertainment to not-so-highbrow workers at a Soviet collective farm. The character of the selection's origin was characterized by the enthusiastic jumps and twirls of the guard, now in bright yellow blouses revealed by the removal of the red Cossack jackets.

2000 Madison Scouts
"Galop" transitioned into "Gopak" from Soviet Armenian composer Aram Khachaturian's famed "Gayne Ballet," based on a Cossack dance known as "The National Dance of Ukraine." Full of acrobatic jumps that were duplicated by the guard members, the dance was traditionally performed by male mercenary military recruits in celebration of successful battles. Next was Khachaturian's sorrowful "Romance," the fourth of five movements extracted from "Masquerade," a 1941 piece written for a play by poet Mikhail Lemontov, considered Russia's greatest Romantic writer. The visual highlight of this section was quite simple but effective; a giant circle comprised of horns and drums surrounded a circle of blue flags, inside which was a triangle of horns. The entire formation backed up on an angle to the upper right side of the field, where the piece faded into silence. Next the Scouts called upon Franz Waxman's "Overture" to "Taras Bulba" which he wrote for Nikolai Gogol's 1962 epic film, starring Yul Brenner and Tony Curtis. Waxman, a successful film composer who won two Academy Awards among 12 nominations, thoroughly immersed himself in the study of Russian folk music, creating a vigorously vivid film score proclaimed by famed film composer Bernard Herrmann to be the greatest movie score ever. The bombast of the work led into the corps singing part of the melody prior to a company front push and a short closing tag derived from the very end of Khachaturian's 1936 "Concerto for Piano and Orchestra," the musical work that first brought the composer fame in the West.

For this week only, you can save on the DVD that contains this complete Madison Scouts performance, along with all of the finalist corps at the 2000 DCI World Championship.

Buy the 2000 DCI World Championship DVD set. (Available this week only for 20% off with coupon code Heart20. Regular price: $39.95.) Discount DVD offer ends Monday, February 23, 2015.
Michael Boo was a member of the Cavaliers from 1975-1977. He has written about the drum corps activity for more than a quarter century 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, Ind.

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