Drum Corps International
Spotlight of the Week: 2007 Boston Crusaders, 'A Picasso Suite'
DCI Defualt ImagePhoto by: Drum Corps International

Spotlight of the Week: 2007 Boston Crusaders, 'A Picasso Suite'

by Michael Boo


2007 Boston Crusaders


The 2007 Drum Corps International World Championship is largely remembered for the first time the big show went to California, culminating with a Blue Devils 50th anniversary victory inside the hallowed Rose Bowl Stadium.

Earlier in the season, Bluecoats had beaten the Devils and all the other top corps, yet finished in seventh place in Pasadena, eight tenths of a point from finishing three placements higher. The corps' score of 94.05 remains the highest seventh-place score ever.

Boston Crusaders' ninth-place show was titled, "A Picasso Suite," honoring the Spanish artist who turned the world of art upside down. Not only was he an innovator in just about every form of art, (painting, sculpting, etc.), but he also pioneered and/or excelled in a staggering number of different styles and is known for passing through a number of artistic stages. It was some of those styles and stages that were explored individually in each of the show's four musical selections.

Throughout the production, the corps led the audience through a series of imaginary galleries conceptually displaying the artist's work from his various periods, with several easels upon which the masterpieces were to be imagined.

Also imagined was the presence of the corps' trademark "Conquest" theme. Appearing in just about every other show the corps has presented in decades, it didn't exist in this show in any form, including the rhythmic "stabs" that have appeared in so many productions when the melody was absent.

The show opened with Scottish film composer Patrick Doyle's "In Pace" from the 1996 movie, "Hamlet," directed by Shakespearean actor Kenneth Branagh and based on the famed tragic play written by William Shakespeare around the turn of the 17th Century. Doyle is a prolific composer of film music and has written the music for nine Branagh films.



Mostly played backfield, the introduction of this piece represented the subtle anguish of Picasso's brief Blue Period of 1903-1905, enhanced with flags of blue hues. However, the music wasn't gloomy at all, treating the idea of blueness more as an inspiration than a restriction. In fact, the moment when the horns turned around and let loose with a volume that would have knocked the paint off one of Picasso's canvases was quite a rousing sense of affirmation.

The next piece was "Cruzados," a multi-sectioned work composed by corps arrangers Jay Kennedy, Rich Viano and Jerry Carpenter. The piece represented Picasso's happier Rose Period of 1905-1906 and was saturated with pulsating Latin rhythms.

The music was of an enthusiastic nature akin to what is generally thought of as bullfight music. Picasso being an enthusiastic fan of the Spanish sport, used it as inspiration in many of his paintings and drawings.

The work was not named for the Brazilian currency or anything else. According to Jay Kennedy, the title "was based on the corps' name, but given a Spanish-sounding ending that was simply intended to reflect the Spanish flavor of the piece and align with the show theme." As the piece progressed, the color guard members put on white painters' smocks covered with the remnants of different colors of paint. Brighter colors of light reds and pinks in the flags further accented the passionate music.

Astor Piazzolla's "Oblivion" was a haunting and relatively restrained tango. Piazzolla all but reinvented the Argentinian idiom. This piece represented Picasso's Proto-Cubism (early Cubist) and Cubism (more abstract) Periods of 1907-1925, the design on the flags referencing the artist's fragmented, shattered, and exploded views of his artistic subjects. Block drill forms further paid homage to the Cubism concept.


2007 Boston Crusaders


The chimes in the front ensemble percussion section were heard over the brass chords at the end, playing the theme from "Dies Irae," the Medieval Latin hymn associated with a Requiem mass. The piece conveyed a sense of despair found in much of Picasso's output from that period, anguish grounded in repulsion of the fascism sweeping his home country of Spain.

Chick Corea's "La Fiesta" closed the program with fiery intensity, signifying Picasso's Surrealism Period of 1926 on. Flags were emblazoned with bright colors and abstract designs that?”in the spirit of the period?”were left to one's imagination.

Corea, a jazz pianist who has evolved through as many stylistic periods as Picasso, wrote a stunning number of contemporary jazz works that have become standards, including this one. The song is a celebration of flamenco music, the folk music of the Andalusia region of southern Spain.

A tag based on the Corea piece took the corps backfield and to the right goal line. At the end, an artist?”representing Picasso and holding a painter's palette?”walked up to an easel. A canvas was let down behind a picture frame and he concluded the show by painting "BAC" as a signature, which stands as an official moniker for the corps. Within other picture frames appeared Picasso paintings, seemingly generated out of mid-air.

For this week only, you can save on the World Championship DVD set that contains this complete Boston Crusaders performance, along with all finalists from the 2007 DCI World Championships.



Buy the 2007 World Championship DVD set.
(Available this week for 20% off. Regular price: $39.95.)

Discount DVD offer ends Monday, March 24.



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, Indiana.

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