After the ties for the Drum Corps International World Championship title in 1996, 1999 and 2000, the DCI Board of Directors instituted a tie-breaking process in 2001 in order to pick a single champion. After the first night of competition at Orchard Park, New York's Ralph Wilson Stadium, it already looked like that tiebreaker might come into play as the top three corps scored within half a point of each other. On the way to winning the corps' fourth title, the Cavaliers' "Four Corners" production achieved perfect scores in four sub-captions, while the Blue Devils' "Awayday Blue" did the same in two. The Cadets, who ultimately tied for second place and won the percussion caption with "Juxtaperformance," presented a theme that was based on no theme at all. As corps director George Hopkins was fond of saying, "It's just a performance." Prior to the season, the corps' publicity info proclaimed that the mission of the show was simply "to put a smile on the face of the audience." The title combined the word "juxtapose," meaning to place two or more things together to emphasize similarities or contrasts, and "performance," defined as presenting an artistic work to an audience. As "just a performance," the show is a sterling example of a successful non-thematic production in an era when it seemed that shows were expected to have a thematic tie-in. The first production was based on Benjamin Britten's "A Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra," the 20th Century British composer's most popular work that was written for an educational documentary titled "Instruments of the Orchestra." The Cadets opened the piece with an extended rapid flurry of mellophone notes, with other sections of the horn line quickly added in. That led to a grand fanfare based on Britten's "Variation L, Allegro pomposo," written for orchestral trombones and tuba. The bulk of the production was from the climactic "Fugue: Allegro molto," building to two sections of the horn line delivering the two opposing segments of Britten's grand thematic proclamation while marching in two different time signatures, one frenzied fast and the other regally slow. The color guard further complemented the two tempos by having the rifles interpret the fast theme while the flags portray the slower one. The next work in the show was Van Morrison's "Moondance," from the 1970 solo album of the same name by the Northern Irish singer-songwriter. The Cadets used the piece to set a mood of playfulness that was delivered by the joyful dance of the color guard section as much as it was the actions of the percussion and brass players. Morrison's ditty faded into the solemnity of "Vide Cor Meum," composed by Patrick Cassidy and tweaked by noted film composer Hans Zimmer. The piece was written for the 2001 Ridley Scott film, "Hannibal, and it was later utilized in Scott's 2005 movie, "Kingdom of Heaven."
Haunting and entirely devoid of battery percussion players, the selection featured the color guard as the sole visual entity, spinning pastel green and blue flags. The brass players either sat or stretched out on the field in positions that should have made breath and pitch control beyond difficult. One-by-one they stood up prior to the grand statement of the melody forming a continuous arch behind the color guard as a human backdrop. The final piece in the show was Georges Bizet's "Farandole" from "L'Arlesienne Suite No. 2". Fiery red flags vividly accompanied the jubilant music, and an impressive 10-second outbreak of fast brass notes led into a rotating box of horns. That box evolved into an asterisk that pushed right-to-left through itself into another box, fell in on itself and squeezed out the top of the form into a final block parallelogram. It was an astounding display of geometric evolutions that helped elevate the final moments of the show well above the status of "just a performance."
For this week only, you can save on the DVD set that contains this complete Cadets performance, along with all finalists from the 2001 DCI World Championships.Buy the 2001 World Championship DVD set. (Available this week only for 20% off. Regular price: $39.95.) Discount DVD offer ends Monday, Oct. 6, 2014.
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.