The 2011 Drum Corps International Tour marked the first time that both the Open Class World Championship Prelims and Finals were scheduled to be held at Ames Field in Michigan City, Indiana.
Moving the events to this drum corps-crazed locale allowed the corps to play in an intimate stadium in front of an enthusiastic audience that filled most of the seats. That audience ultimately saw Blue Devils B take the Open Class title, just a week after Oregon Crusaders managed to put a stop to the Concord, California corps’ undefeated season.
Winning the International Class title over the Netherlands’ Jubal, Japan’s Yokohama Scouts came to America with only 21 brass players, 16 in the drum line, five in the front ensemble, and seven in the color guard.
Due to costs and other factors, the corps was not traveling with its full complement. It’s also important to know that the Japanese drum corps season runs from October through January, so the Scouts’ home season was still two months from its start. Imagine the equivalent, an American corps traveling to compete in Japan during the month of April.
Drum corps in Japan perform indoors on square floors inside arenas also utilized for indoor sports events such as badminton, basketball, and volleyball. When a Japanese corps comes to perform in America, designers typically must rewrite the visual drill formations for outdoor fields that are much larger than the performance areas to which they are accustomed.
Yokohama Scouts is named after the corps’ home city, the second largest municipality in Japan by population. The city sits on Tokyo Bay, just a half hour drive from Japan’s capital city. In addition to 2011, Yokohama Scouts also performed at the DCI World Championships in 1996, 1999, and 2007, taking about a one-week American tour each time.
The corps’ 2011 show was titled, “In Rhapture,” playing off the word “Rhapsody.” The entire show was based on music of American, Russian, and Hungarian composers, each of those selections having the word “Rhapsody” in its respective title.
The show started with “Music of George Gershwin,” based on the American composer’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” composed in 1924 for solo piano and jazz band. “An Experiment in Modern Music,” the event at which the piece was premiered with Gershwin at the piano, is noted as one of the most important musical events of the 20th Century.
Yokohama Scouts started the show with a soprano bugle player performing the iconic clarinet glissando that opens Gershwin’s work. The rest of the horns played to the backfield, and when they all turned around for the big hit, they demonstrated just how powerful 21 horns could be when they’re all in tune and playing together with a sensitivity belying a high-quality, much larger line.
The second segment of the show titled, “Music of Sergei Rachmaninoff,” was based on the Russian composer’s beloved “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Variation 18.” After the introduction of the famous, soaring melody, a percussion feature introduced more of the Gershwin rhapsody.
The corps’ closer titled, “Music of Franz Liszt,” was based on the composer’s “Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2” of 1847. It’s the best known of Liszt’s 19 “Hungarian Rhapsodies,” especially to those familiar with Bugs Bunny cartoons.
At the 2011 DCI World Championships Prelims in Indianapolis two days after Open Class Finals, Yokohama Scouts finished in 28th place, higher than 13 other corps.
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.