The Drum Corps International World Championships returned to the University of Wisconsin’s Camp Randall Stadium for the seventh time in 2006, and the first time since the venue was greatly modernized and expanded.
Among non-finalist corps, the 14th-place Blue Stars received a lot of attention after successfully returning to Division I (World Class) after more than two decades competing in Division II & III (Open Class) competition. Crossmen, in the corps’ second year out of the Finals, finished 15th, followed by the 16th place Capital Regiment. The final group to earn a spot in the Semifinals was the Mandarins. The California corps advanced into the Friday show by topping Southwind by less than a half point in the Quarterfinals.
Colts finished in 13th place for the second year in a row, performing a show called, “Continuum.” The title referenced that motion may be prolonged indefinitely once initiated. This concept was first witnessed when one person set the show in motion, followed by a series of concentric rippling circles—a recurring theme—bouncing off the “shoreline” of the field. Another recurring element was a single mostly-silver flag that kept popping up during each musical selection.
The passage of time was inferred through the ringing of London’s famed Westminster Chimes—also a recurring theme—during “Time to Go!” This opening movement was based on the elegant and heartfelt ballad, “As Time Goes By,” Herman Hupfeld’s most famous work that was originally written for the 1931 Broadway musical, “Everybody’s Welcome.” In 1942, the song achieved immortality when featured in the World War II-era film, “Casablanca.”
At the start of the production, the color guard members formed the circle of a clock’s perimeter, with the snare and tenor drummers acting as the moving hands during the incessant “tick-tock” of the clock. Building up to a fanfare proclamation enhanced by flags of bright yellows, the piece quieted down and segued into Richard Saucedo’s energetic concert band work, “Windsprints.” Saucedo, who recently retired as a band director in the suburbs of Indianapolis, may be best known to drum corps fans for his long association as brass arranger for the Cavaliers, and especially for his all-original shows for that corps in the early 2000s.
In his program notes for the piece, Saucedo wrote that the flourish of notes and rhythms were meant to stir the kind of emotion one might experience while running a 50- or 100-yard dash, comparing “Windsprints” to “a technical race to the finish line.” In the center of the piece, the Westminster Chimes theme returned in the mallet keyboards to remind us of the continuum’s continuity, accompanied by electric blue flags.
“As Time Goes By” returned as a full-scale ballad production. An elegant ballroom setting and light purple flags complemented the new pastel skirts on the guard members, enhancing the continuum with a subdued and stylish elegance. The drums stayed silent during this segment, allowing the horns to carry the beauty of the piece just as the lounge singer did in the movie, “Casablanca.” Even at the emotional and volume-level climax of the piece, the drums continued to hold back and to save their contribution for what was to follow. At the very end, large pastel purple flags were sequentially raised and lowered from left to right across the entire back sideline, akin to watching moments pass quickly along an animated timeline.
A toss of the recurring single silver flag led into the must-get-there-quickly urgency of “Ride,” a Samuel Hazo piece written to evoke memories of a speeding car ride through the countryside, all the time while watching the roadside scenery blur past the car window. Related to a continuum, the piece, according to Hazo, begins and ends in the same key to symbolize going from one “home” to another.
A percussion feature preceded the main melody of the piece, the vivaciousness enhanced by vibrant red and orange flags. A short recap of the Westminster Chimes led into the final hurried statement, the one silver flag announcing that the continuum had indeed come full circle. That flag continued to spin well after the show ended, demonstrating that continuums don’t just end because they run out of time.
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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.