Drum Corps International
Spotlight of the Week: 2009 Boston Crusaders
2009 Boston Crusaders

Spotlight of the Week: 2009 Boston Crusaders

by Michael Boo

Lucas Oil Stadium opened its doors to the Drum Corps International World Championships for the first time in 2009, just in time for fans and corps to avoid the soaring heat index in Indianapolis that eclipsed 100 degrees.

Blue Devils won the corps’ 13th DCI title with perfect scores from three of the 10 judges while capturing all but one of the four caption awards.

Also memorable from 2009, The Cadets temporarily changed its name to the Holy Name Cadets to honor the organization’s 75th anniversary while playing something from “West Side Story” for the sixth decade in a row. Troopers also made headlines after earning a spot among the top 12 in the Finals competition for the first time since 1986.

 

Finishing in 7th place, Boston Crusaders' "The Core of Temptation" figuratively explored the story of Eve in the Biblical Garden of Eden, drawing on musical portraits of desire and its consequences as paradise plunged into madness and chaos.

Own Boston Crusaders' "The Core of Temptation" on DVD.

The show began with the synthesized sounds of a sitar to convey the sense of Middle Eastern exoticism, playing the main melody from "Bacchanale" that would become a major facet of the show later on. With the corps spread out in seemingly random fashion on the left side of the field, one member of the color guard section costumed all in white played the role of temptress Eve.

"Prologue," by corps brass arranger Jay Kennedy, evolved out of the sitar sounds as the brass players formed the outline of an apple and the drums a leaf on the stem. After a series of ethereal harmonies, the music became increasingly feverish, with stabbing brass chords pulsating threw the air like the fangs of a snake about to bite.

2009 Boston Crusaders2009 Boston Crusaders


More elements of "Bacchanale" were then heard, drawing on the famed selection from the 1877 opera by French Romantic composer Camille Saint-Saëns that was based on the Old Testament Book of Judges.

Next the corps transitioned into "Dance of the Maenads" from contemporary New Zealand composer John Psathas' "View from Olympus." Utilizing multiple layers of exotic instruments in his orchestral music, the work was written in 2002 as a double concerto for percussion, piano, and orchestra.

Maenads are mythological female followers of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, and applicably the music in this section was extremely bombastic, with a raucous sense of "anything goes." This passionate musical attitude helped set up the moment when Eve, represented by the same temptress from earlier, would condemn all of humankind with her chomping on the fabled apple.

2009 Boston Crusaders2009 Boston Crusaders


But first, Jay Kennedy's "Seduction"-a piece arranged around a theme by Camille Saint-Saëns-would bring back the "Bacchanale" melody, accompanied by color guard flags that showed just the eyes of Eve as the temptress tantalizingly offered an apple prop to her color guard partner, who tried, like Adam, to keep her from biting into the fruit.

The corps coalesced into another large apple form as Eve tossed her prop into the air and then appeared to take a bite out of it, while keeping her partner from intervening by placing her foot on his prone back. The sound of her chomping on the apple resonated across the field to the bemused laughter of the audience. The brass and percussion sections then formed the same apple shape as before, but this time indenting the side of the fruit to show the bite taken out.

Corps arrangers Omar Carmenates and Jerry Carpenter wrote the percussion feature that came next titled "Chaos." It was intended to show the unruly result of Eve's careless act, highlighted by a game of "keep away" with the apple as color guard members ran past waving flags of apples with chunks bitten off.

 

Jay Kennedy's brief "Capitulation & Ritual Madness" borrowed from the mysticism of the Middle Eastern musical palate, but in a loud manner at the opposite end of the spectrum of the gentle music that opened the show.

A final statement of "Bacchanale" was introduced with six tall poles to which jingles were affixed to replicate the sound of a far more ornamental Turkish crescent. The bottoms of the poles were repeatedly hit against the ground to provide a rhythmic cacophony.

The show wrapped up with the brass blasting the final chords through the roof of the stadium, as Eve triumphantly showed off her giant apple, unaware her action forever closed the door on paradise.

Purchase this Boston Crusaders performance on DVD today.


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.

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