Blue Devils placed a close second for an exploration of Stravinsky’s most profound work. The Cadets took third for their Samuel Barber show and Santa Clara Vanguard disappeared and performed behind a Parisian cityscape to haunting effect. Back home, Bluecoats literally visited Main Street USA. Down a few spots, Madison Scouts celebrated the 75th anniversary of their brotherhood with an emotional rendition of “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”
In 8th place, Boston Crusaders’ “Rise” was about facing down oppression that tries to keep one physically and emotionally enslaved, inspired by those moments when one has to dig down deep and find the resolve to break through tremendous obstacles.
Prior to the official start of the show, corps members ran out onto the field in gray uniform tops (representing oppression), which was a departure from the traditional red ones they had worn for so many years. Those gray uniforms were a nod to the group’s historic past, used by the corps for a year after the donation of them from Edward Kennedy who had a relationship with Crusaders director Joseph Dowling.
Softly playing in the background during this section of the Crusaders’ production was Eric Whitacre’s “Water Nights,” written in 1995 as an a cappella choir selection and the source of Whitacre’s Virtual Choir 3 viral video sensation of 2012. Whitacre based the piece on “Agua nocturna,” a poem by Mexican poet Octavio Paz, recipient of the 1990 Nobel Prize in Literature. Relevant Boston’s show, Paz was a regular critic of the human rights violations of totalitarianism, especially that of communist regimes.
The competitive portion of Boston’s show got underway with the ominous “Sit Down, Stand Up” by Thom Yorke, leader of the English alternative rock band, Radiohead. The piece came off the band’s sixth studio album, “Hail to the Thief,” released in 2003.
At the climax of the opening statement, the color guard members picked up tattered flags of smeared colors of blood red and darkened hues that appeared to hover over a sun valiantly poking through the carnage. After a drum break, the muted sound of someone saying, “Rise,” was heard through the speakers. The piece then fought through to a bold conclusion.
2013 Boston Crusaders
Flags of light blues offered a glimpse of hope and tranquility as a lone guard member, in a gesture of disobedience, displayed a red shirt under her jacket to the restrained sounds of “Falling Slowly.” The song was from the 2007 Irish romantic film, “Once,” written and performed by Irish songwriter Glen Hansard and Czech pianist Markéta Irglová. In accepting the 2008 Academy Award for Best Original Song, Irglová said, “This song was written from a perspective of hope, and hope at the end of the day connects us all, no matter how different we are.” That sentiment was important to the corps selecting the piece.
Some brass players opened up the bottom of their left sleeves to show red underneath, the color nearest and dearest to the corps. Those members then lied down on their backs and supported other horn players with their legs. A little later, some horns leaned precariously to the side, held from falling by the solid grip of others. Both gestures exemplified how those struggling to survive oppression must rely on assistance of others who are in the same fight.
The corps made a graceful segue into “Lean on Me,” the classic tune by American singer-songwriter Bill Withers. The song was ranked the Billboard No. 7 song of the year when it debuted in 1972. It’s frequently played at charity events due to its lyrics, which cast a lifeline to those experiencing pain and sorrow. At this point in the show the color guard member in the red shirt climbed a staircase of flagpoles to the top, demonstrating how others are vital to one’s goals.
2013 Boston Crusaders
Original untitled music followed, composed by corps arrangers Ryan George and Ellis Hampton. The violent strains of the music created a sense of urgency. The corps members who had earlier showed some red on their sleeves covered the red with the gray sleeves, realizing they were in danger of suffering retribution. At the end of the piece, the guard member who had bravely worn the red shirt fell at the sound of a gunshot, but managed to stand up as the rest of the corps yelled, “I will rise!” All corps members proceeded to rebelliously remove their gray uniforms to reveal the red Crusaders jackets known by all.
The yell was extracted from Maya Angelou’s personal favorite poem, “Shall I Rise,” from her 1978 volume of poetry, “And Still I Rise.” After the corps members moved away from the old jackets, one could see them arranged to spell out “RISE” on the field. This led into the beginning of the show’s closing section, which utilized Hans Zimmer’s soaring “Time,” from the 2010 science fiction thriller, “Inception.”
The second part of the closer was “Test Drive” from the 2010 computer-animated fantasy, “How to Train Your Dragon,” written by John Powell, who had been a member of Zimmer’s music studio. At this point the corps’ familiar “Waldo” logo showed up on the red flags spun by color guard members.
The classic six-note rhythm of the Crusaders’ corps song “Conquest” was heard in the drums, leading the show to the end, where the horns belted out the theme from the 1947 film “Captain from Castile.” The color guard member who had first shown her true colors earlier in the production raised a large black-and-white “Waldo” flag, announcing to all that the Boston Crusaders were back and ready to move forward in celebration of freedom.
For this week only, you can save on the DVD or Blu-ray set that contains this complete Boston Crusaders performance, along with all finalists from the 2013 DCI World Championship.
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(Either available for 20% off for a limited time only.)
Discount offer ends Monday, April 4, 2016.
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.