Drum Corps International
Spotlight of the Week: 2013 Genesis
2013 GenesisPhoto by: Drum Corps International

Spotlight of the Week: 2013 Genesis

by Michael Boo

Finishing just behind Vanguard Cadets and Blue Devils B, Genesis captured its very first bronze medal during the 2013 Drum Corps International Open Class World Championship in Michigan City, Indiana.

The corps' production "mOZaic," was a medley of more than 20 tunes from multiple "Wizard of Oz" productions, plus a handful of other works. The show was a literal interpretation of the classic 1939 film, "The Wizard of Oz," including a passing reference to a yellow brick road and visual references to the Emerald City and various characters in the movie.

"The Wizard of Oz" is considered one of the greatest films in history, based on the 1900 children's book, "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz," written by Frank Baum. The movie made Judy Garland a star for playing the lead character, Dorothy. Various other characters such as the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, the Scarecrow, and the Munchkins became pop culture icons. The movie's signature ballad, Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg's "Over the Rainbow," won the Oscar for Best Original Song, but the movie lost the Academy Award for Best Picture to a little film by the name of "Gone With the Wind."

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Other Oz-inspired music in Genesis' production came from the Andrew Lloyd Webber theater production, "The Wizard of Oz," in addition to the 1974 Charlie Smalls musical "The Wiz," and the 2003 Stephen Schwartz production "Wicked."

Setting the theme, corps members wore four patches of green, gold, red, and blue on the fronts of their uniforms, meant to reflect the patchwork construction of the Scarecrow. Color guard members also wore squares of different colors on the straw-colored tunics that covered their body suits.

An opening fanfare of "Over the Rainbow" was highlighted visually by flags the solid colors of a rainbow that were spread across the front of the field. At the climax of the fanfare, the brass players marched into a formation of a large "O" surrounding a smaller "Z."

 

Amidst the many tunes that made up beginning of the show was a very brief nod to Mussorgsky's "Night on Bald Mountain" and a longer rendition of "Ease on Down the Road" from "The Wiz," accompanied by patchwork flags. The opener ended with another circle of horns surrounding the letter "Z," which spun into position out of a company front maneuver.

Electronic sounds were heard at the beginning of the ballad, "If I Only Had a Brain." The piece started with brass players awkwardly trying to move their arms and legs as the Tin Man did in the movie before Dorothy provided him with some oil. The corps ended in an outline of a heart, reflecting on the longing of the Tin Man to obtain a heart most of all. Ready to propel the story even further, color guard performers removed their tunics to review wide yellow strips around their body suits, as if belts, paying homage to the yellow brick road.

The sound of thunder introduced a wicked witch flag that sailed across the field, soon to be joined by many more of the same flags. A fuller rendition of "Night on Bald Mountain" conveyed the threats of the witch to disrupt the journey of Dorothy and her three friends down the Yellow Brick Road on the way to the land of Oz.

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The brass musicians gathered around the drums in rays like the sun, then used their horns as if buckets to toss water toward the drums, who were representing the Wicked Witch of the West. Upon the victory of Dorothy, the corps melted into the field like the dying witch, then rebounded to proclaim, "All hail Dorothy; the Wicked Witch is Dead."

A ballad version of "Over the Rainbow" grew out of the battle sequence, with the brass musicians forming a company front formation behind a color guard member proudly presenting the broom of the vanquished evil witch.

Other color guard members were seen up front spinning flags the solid colors of the rainbow, while the final few drill evolutions brought the corps into another formation that spelled out "OZ."

In addition to taking home a bronze medal, Genesis also was recognized in 2013 with the Most Improved Open Class Drum Corps award.


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.