Drum Corps International
Spotlight of the Week: 2004 Magic of Orlando
2004 Magic of OrlandoPhoto by: Drum Corps International

Spotlight of the Week: 2004 Magic of Orlando

by Michael Boo

The 2004 Drum Corps International World Championships were held in Denver's INVESCO Field at Mile High (now Sports Authority Field at Mile High), adjacent to where the Championships had been held in 1977 and 1978, the now-demolished Mile High Stadium.

Miniscule differences in scores called each of the last three shows of the season. In the Finals competition, the Cavaliers won the title over Blue Devils by just 0.175 points. The day before, Glassmen squeaked by Spirit of Atlanta by just 0.75 in the Semifinals to capture the last spot among the corps advancing to the Finals. And in the Quarterfinals, Magic of Orlando barely advanced, besting Southwind by less than half a point.

Ultimately finishing in 17th place, Magic of Orlando's “Pirates of the Caribbean” production was based on the 2003 soundtrack to the smash film, “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl,” composed by Klaus Badelt and Hans Zimmer, with contributions from seven other composers who are credited for “additional music.”

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When Zimmer was asked to write the soundtrack, he was busy with other projects, so he brought newcomer Badelt on board. The titles of the 15 tracks of the soundtrack seem extremely generic, and in some cases, don't align with the actual action on the screen. This is because the production schedule was so short, titles of the musical selections had to be decided upon for packaging prior to the music being written. Consequently, some of the corps' scene titles are more about the action than the actual selections upon which they're based.

In the movie, swashbuckling rogue Jack Sparrow—played by Johnny Depp—teamed up with a blacksmith to rescue a Caribbean island governor's daughter from an evil captain and his band of wretched pirates.

In Magic's show, the conflict and merriment of the movie existed simultaneously, with the pirates of the Black Pearl ship going agog over the discovery of treasure and the storyline of the rescue of the damsel in distress.

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“Scene 1: Fog Bound” set the image of the open sea as a vast canvas of desolation. Coming from a track of the same name and another track titled, “The Black Pearl,” this movement presented the sense of bravado that was to pervade the entire production. Color guard members were attired as pirates, costumed in dark earth tones that gave the appearance of being weathered and timeworn.

Driving the storyline, female guard members discovered a treasure chest and tossed the treasure in the air. However, they were overtaken by the pirates and neutralized, with the pirates laying claim to the booty and the main pirate stepping atop the chest and thrusting his cutlass in the air.

In “Scene 2: The Pirates,” other main and recurring themes from the soundtrack were heard as one of the pirates interacted with a captive female, now dressed in a flowing white gown. Both those characters ended atop a long plank of wood held aloft by other performers. With her arms bound and he brandishing his cutlass, he stabbed her and the audience witnessed her falling backward into the depths of the ocean, followed by the splashing of water that rose above the plank.

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In “Scene 3:  One Last Shot,” color guard members discovered the allure of rum and drank vast quantities out of large bottles (filled with water) inside paper bags. This was followed by the entire corps staggering around the field and singing the main theme to “It's a Pirate's Life for Me.” Guard performers began waving the bottles in the air, causing arcs of water to fly in every which direction.

The splashing of water in this section and earlier in the production resulted in a level of notoriety the corps probably didn't expect. Some managers of later-performing corps complained those actions created random slippery wet spots, making parts of the field dangerous for their own marchers. As a result, a rule was passed the following year forbidding the use of liquid on the field of competition.

Following the memorable water tossing, “Scene 4: Pirate Battle” witnessed a snare drummer start to perform a solo, the only instrumental sound among the yells of the remaining corps members. A tuba player walked up to him and mock smacked him to get him to stop, then started playing a solo on his tuba. A fight ensued, with the tubist getting the best of the drummer.

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Some more fighting occurred between various individual pirates, but more in the sense of brief disagreements after imbibing too much rum, as opposed to fighting with the intention of killing one another. For a jazzy segment, the snare drummers marched up to a row of hi-hat cymbals and cut loose before rejoining the rest of the corps. Some of the guard members sat atop the treasure chest, preening and ogling the necklaces that were among the trove.

“Scene 5: Finale” was the end of the journey, when the pirates were to enjoy the spoils of their successful raids and treasure hunting. The corps pushed to the front of the field and the drowned maiden from earlier reappeared, as another color guard member waved a Jolly Roger skull and crossbones flag.

The resurrected victim was joined by her nemesis that had earlier prompted her to fall off the plank. In a last act of defiance, she ended up with the Jolly Roger flag and proudly displayed it in demonstration of her ultimate conquest.



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.