Drum Corps International
Spotlight of the Week: 2012 Vanguard Cadets, 'Heroes and Legends'

Spotlight of the Week: 2012 Vanguard Cadets, 'Heroes and Legends'

by Michael Boo


2012 Vanguard Cadets
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, Ind. Oregon Crusaders won its first title since 2004, the year the corps won the DCI Division III Championship in its first season attending the World Championships. Oregon captured awards for Best Brass Performance, Best Visual Performance and Best General Effect. Blue Devils B took 2nd place and Best Percussion. The bronze medal went to the Vanguard Cadets, who fell just a tenth of a point shy of 2nd place. The 4th place Spartans captured the Best Color Guard trophy for the third consecutive year. Vanguard Cadets' production "Heroes and Legends" was said by the staff to be about the tradition of the Aussie-style hat, a symbol of the Vanguard organization. The staff conceived the program as a good-versus-evil production, a triumph of the spirit of united camaraderie over the selfish interests of the individual. The show started with Jeff Beal's "Main Titles" from the smash hit HBO television series, "Rome." The show was set in the time before Christ, while Rome was rapidly sliding from an enlightened republic into the squalid dictatorship of an empire. At this point, the corps was neither wearing its hats nor military-style tunic jackets, except for one person having and/or wearing the hat somewhere on the field. It became a sort of "Where's Waldo" effort to spot the Aussie throughout the show. The Beal piece led directly into "Viva la Vida" by the British alternative rock band, Coldplay, off their 2008 album of the same name. With the percussion beat from the Beal still pulsating through the beginning of this work, it's understandable if those not familiar with Coldplay had assumed the corps was still playing the music from "Rome." Adding further interest, Camille Saint-Sa?«ns' "Danse Bacchanale" from his 1877 opera, "Samson and Delilah," was also interspersed into the selection.
The next piece commenced with the "Carol of the Little Russian Children" chorale from Alfred Reed's "Russian Christmas Music," written in 1944 for a Denver concert by the 529th Army Air Force Band, of which Reed was a member. Reed was instructed to write the piece just 16 days prior to the event when another work was pulled from the event. This short snippet blended into a full-length production of "Medea's Meditation and Dance of Vengeance" by Samuel Barber. The work ended angrily with a color guard member forcibly removing the hat from the horn player. Another brief musical glimpse of the chorale from the Reed piece led into "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again," from "Phantom of the Opera," the 1986 stage musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber. To the conciliatory tone of the chorale, the members of the horn and drum lines helped each other put on their tunics and hats while behind backdrops across the front and back of the field. When the members reappeared on the field, the look of the entire corps was different and comforting in its familiarity.

2012 Vanguard Cadets
The main theme from "Russian Christmas Music" was finally unveiled, leading to a company front salute that paid homage to Santa Clara Vanguard's 1987 production of the same piece of music. That earlier production, as did Vanguard Cadets' tribute, included "The Great Gate of Kiev" from Modest Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition," written for piano in 1874. Maurice Ravel of "Bolero" fame, orchestrated the version with which everyone is most familiar. Just a few counts prior to the big company front push, visual focus directed eyes toward a caped color guard member who earlier had removed the hat from the horn member. This member placed the Vanguard Aussie hat on her head, turned around, ripped off her cape and unveiled the same uniform as worn back in 1987 by Vanguard Cadets' parent corps, adding a huge level of excitement to the moment.

For this week only, you can save on the DVD that contains this complete Vanguard Cadets performance, along with 12 other corps from the 2012 Open Class World Championships in Michigan City.

Buy the 2012 Open Class World Championships DVD. (Available this week only for 20% off. Regular price: $35.95.) DVD offer ends Monday, Jan. 6.
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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