The final week of Drum Corps International’s 40th anniversary season kicked off with the Open Class World Championship Prelims and Finals at Ames Field in Michigan City, Indiana.

Members of the Oregon Crusaders won their first title since 2004, capturing the Best Brass Performance, Best Visual Performance and Best General Effect caption awards. The corps then went on to Indianapolis to place 19th against a lineup of all World and Open Class corps combined.

The Portland corps’ “Dreaming in Color” production was a journey from being asleep to being awake, transitioning from black-and-white to an explosion of color. The show traveled around the color wheel in reverse, from white to black, then orange, red, blue, green and yellow.

An ethereal combination of metallic sounds and a solemn amplified trumpet solo extracted from composer Eric Whitacre’s “Sleep,” led into the unveiling of white flags as soon as the stadium announcer introduced the corps.

“Sleep” was written in 2000 as a commissioned choral piece and later rewritten as a concert band piece with vocal accompaniment. The work originally utilized the words of poet Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” which was the favorite poem of the person who commissioned the composer. But when the Frost estate forbade Whitacre from using that text, he commissioned new lyrics from longtime collaborator Charles Anthony Silvestri, who had to work his lyrics into the existing music.

A brief fanfare from the apex of “Sleep” led into staff arranger Travis Moddison’s “Detours,” a percussively angular, dark and fast work accented by color guard members utilizing black flag poles and black tape on the rifles. The void of color transitioned into the appearance of bright orange flags and other orange accents, further transitioning into the use of new flags primarily of orange, red, and yellow.

This section led into “El Tango de Roxanne” from the 2001 film, “Moulin Rouge.” The color red overtook the production, seen in the arm coverings of the guard members and a red tarp in the front of the field. In a programming move that was daring and unimaginably risky, the tango was overlaid with Astor Piazzola’s 1974 “Libertango” and the first and third movements of Bill Reddie’s 1968 “Channel One Suite,” a diverse combination that surprisingly worked very well.

2012 Oregon Crusaders

One of the two tarps in the front of the field turned blue for a tuba solo rendition of the main melody of George Gershwin’s 1924 “Rhapsody in Blue,” immediately progressing into “Fantasia on the Dargason” from Gustav Holst’s 1911 “Second Suite in F,” which blended into the finale from Benjamin Britten’s 1946 “Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra.” The Britten piece was based on “Rondeau” from Henry Purcell’s 1695 “Abdelazer,” the second movement of a 10-movement suite. The corps freely blended the Britten treatment with the Purcell original, introducing the color green to the field during the mix.

The show brightened substantially as corps members unfurled yellow sunrays on the field during the introduction of John Mackey’s 2007 “Kingfishers Catch Fire,” which the corps first played in 2010. A musical highlight of this introduction happened when tenor drummers performed on bright yellow practice pad mock-ups of their six-drum tenor configuration.

With an awakening of solid yellow flags pouring out from the sun tarp, Joseph Brackett’s 1848 Shaker hymn, “Simple Gifts,” was laid over the Mackey work. A flurry of bass drum notes and a company front by the brass section introduced Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” from his 1824 “Symphony No. 9” and the finale from Stravinsky’s 1910 “Firebird Suite.” The last minute of the show was a visual homage to the corps’ own past, including drill moves from the corps’ prior shows.

This week you can save on the DVD that contains this Oregon Crusaders performance, along with all Open Class corps from the 2012 DCI World Championships.

Buy the 2012 Open Class DCI World Championship DVD.
(Available this week for 30% off.)

2012 Open Class Overview

Discount DVD offer available for a limited time only.

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.