2012 Blue Stars

After enjoying a top-12 spot for the previous four years, Blue Stars missed the 2012 DCI World Championship Finals by three tenths of a point, just under the 12th-place Crossmen.

Blue Stars' "The Blue World" offered several clever references to nautical themes. The show began with a sailor on an elevated dock causing a fishing net comprised of prone guard members to ripple. The net even had a hole on the corner, courtesy of an intentionally missing guard member who represented a knot.

The show was originally conceived in six parts; "From the Net," "Anchors Away," "Beneath the Waves," "The Predator," "Siren Song/Shipwreck," and "Treasure Hunt." Original compositions by corps arrangers Frank Sullivan, Tom Aungst and Neil Larrivee were sprinkled throughout the show.

The opening tune "Fate Has Smiled Upon Us" came from the 2010 "Robin Hood" movie scored by Marc Streitenfeld, a German film composer who has worked extensively with director Ridley Scott.

The music was cast out onto the field, along with an actual fishing net, as a hint of "New World Symphony" was heard in the front ensemble percussion section. At the climax, shimmering flags of reflective ocean blue were unveiled. The sailor on the dock tossed high an orange piece of equipment made to resemble a ship anchor, an item that soon appeared in the hands of multiple color guard members, also now attired in white as sailors.

"Variations on ?˜Symphony No. 9'" was the creative staff's take on Antonin Dvo??ˇk's famous "New World Symphony" of 1893, starting with the "Allegro molto" second part of the first movement. Dvo??ˇk, who had been living in Prague, came to New York City to direct the National Conservatory of Music from 1892 to 1895, during which time he fell in love with the folk music of America. He synthesized his impressions of this music into his symphony, creating one of the most popular works of symphonic music ever.

Toward the end of this movement, a swirling arc of brass players was the crest of a large, inundating wave, while numerous smaller pivoting lines of horns seemed like the ocean's turbulence breaking apart sections of the ship. The movement ended with all the horns condensing into a tight block "V" of a ship's prow, running itself aground on the front sideline. As if battling rough seas wasn't bad enough, the following music added the extra challenge of fighting off the lure of the Sirens.

British composer Ralph Vaughan Williams took six years to finish his "Symphony No. 1, A Sea Symphony," completing his first of nine symphonies in 1909. "The Explorers" is the symphony's 27-minute fourth and final movement, based on a poem from Walt Whitman's legendary poetry collection of 1855, "Leaves of Grass." Blue Stars performed the quiet and introspective opening segment from the movement.

2012 Blue Stars

The corps referred to this segment as "The Siren Song," referencing the beautiful female creatures in Homer's "The Odyssey" that lured sailors to crash their ships on the rocks. The first Siren was unveiled, wearing a sparkling costume of shades of blue, held up by four sailors who had already fallen under her spell. All the female guard members became Sirens while all the males remained sailors atop the dock, passing seafood traps overhead while the horns formed the outline of a fish at the music's climax.

After the ballad, the tranquility of the calm seas was interrupted by a percussion hit, followed by low brass performers playing what many might regard as the theme to "Jaws." The opening to the final movement of "New World Symphony" is generally considered to be the inspiration for John Williams' theme to Steven Spielberg's mega-hit motion picture.

Audience members heard the song of the Sirens as a female voice wafted over the field in a quieter section of music surrounded on both sides by more turbulent musical segments. A lone Siren atop an outcropping of rocks succeeded in luring a sailor to his untimely fate, accompanied by crashing sounds and the howling of wind.

The show ended with the main theme of "New World Symphony," accompanied by rolling and overlapping waves in the drill formations that, if allowed to precede any further, would swallow up any ship yet remaining out on the open sea.

For this week only, you can save on the DVD that contains this complete Blue Stars performance, along with all of the World Class corps on Volume II of the 2012 DCI World Championship DVD set.

Buy the 2012 Vol. II World Championship DVD.
(Available this week only for 20% off. Regular price: $29.95.)

Discount DVD offer ends Monday, April 20, 2015.

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