With “Felliniesque,” Blue Devils set a record high score at the 2014 Drum Corps International World Championship Finals of 99.65, smashing through the previous record by a half a point previously held by the Cavaliers (2002) and the Cadets (2005). Bluecoats earned 2nd place, their highest placement ever, for “Tilt,” the show that made the term “pitch bend” part of the vocabulary of many fans.
The Cadets slipped to third after placing second in both Prelims and Semifinals. Just out of medal placement was Santa Clara Vanguard, who opened its “Scheherazade” show with a large number of trombones, now allowed by DCI rules for the first time in 2014.
Blue Stars, finishing in ninth place, celebrated its 50th anniversary with “Where the Heart Is.” The production referenced blueprints for a house as a main theme, where everyone who had ever been involved with the corps could find himself or herself at home.
When the doorbell rang, movers immediately started entering the house, bringing in lots of furniture, including lamps, couches, cribs, chairs, a bed, and a kitchen table. Each item was set into its proper room according to the large blueprint spread out on the field. The moving boxes and moving coveralls worn by corps members read, “Blue Stars Moving Co.”
The featured music during this segment was “The Chairman Dances,” by minimalist composer John Adams, a 1985 work subtitled, “Foxtrot for Orchestra.” It was written alongside his famed opera, “Nixon in China,” imagining a youthful Mao Tse-Tung dancing the foxtrot with his mistress who was to become his future wife.
The first few minutes of the show were quite hectic due to the stress of unpacking the furniture. The unpacking also included four color guard members, who encased in bubble wrap, were wheeled into the house upon hand trucks. When they were unwrapped, they started spinning the flagpoles to which the bubble wrap had been attached.
One musician was the foreman, arriving at a box with his mellophone. A variety of different visual brass features included tubists passing their tubas over their heads to each other. By 90 seconds into the show, 113 corps members were dancing and celebrating the move-in.
It was lots of fun to look around and catch all the people in character; one sitting at a desk talking on the phone, one resting on the bed, brass players in the dining room (waiting to be fed), all the color guard members in the bedroom, and all the drummers in the living room.
Corps arrangers Richard Saucedo, Ian Grom, and John Mapes wrote a little bit of original music for this part of the opener. One guard member was rolled into the house, hidden under a box. When she was unveiled, she was in a different guard costume, representing someone living in the house.
The second part of the show featured “Homeward Bound” by Paul Simon, off Simon & Garfunkel’s third album, the 1966 “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme.” The song was originally recorded for the duo’s second album, “Sounds of Silence” and was written by Simon when he felt lonely being away from his girlfriend in 1964, separated from her by an ocean while performing in a series of clubs in London.
When the moving coverall costumes were removed to show the corps’ regular uniforms, some earlier versions of the Blue Stars uniforms were revealed. If one consciously looked at the flags, they would see said flags were really paint swatches for the new homeowners to check out.
Now that the corps had moved into the house, it was time to live in it. For those who were really observant, they noticed that with all the people in the house, no one was marching on the walls of the blueprint; they were careful to march around the walls while passing into other rooms. The new owners didn’t like where they put the couch, so they had it moved during the drum solo, with rifles thrown over the couch as it was being moved.
2014 Blue Stars
The third part of the show was the long emotional journey of learning to live in and love the house. At the emotional climax of “Home” by Drew Pearson and Greg Holden, a guard member threw a saber, flipped over the couch and caught it on the other side. Phillip Phillips, the season 11 winner of “American Idol,” made the tune famous, becoming the first male contestant on the show to sell at least three million copies of a single.
The piece featured an empty nest moment where the homeowners found themselves alone in the house after their children grew up and moved out. All other corps members were outside the house as the production transitioned into the final piece of music.
“To Build a Home” was written by Patrick Watson, Phil France, and Jason Swinscoe for the British jazz/electronic music ensemble, The Cinematic Orchestra, created in 1999. The band often performs live while improvising along to recorded electronic elements created by Swinscoe. The piece came off the band’s third album, “Ma Fleur (My Flower),” released in 2007. Fans of Schweppes Lemonade may remember the song as the background to a 2008 commercial.
Corps members then started returning to the house for what might have been a holiday. There was a positive feel about everyone returning after having left the house to start his or her own lives. The corps members sang, “We’re going to make this place our home,” which was from the earlier selection, “Home.” Then they formed a big star and some formed the numeral “50” for the corps’ 50th anniversary.
In the epilogue, the couple that had moved into the house earlier was seen moving out, perhaps downsizing. A new couple was seen moving in, ready to create their own lifelong memories.
But not everyone from earlier had fully moved out: Lying inside the walls was the remainder of the corps. The tender message presented was that any time someone lives somewhere; they always leave a little bit of themselves behind.
For this week only, you can save on the DVD or Blu-ray set that contains this complete Blue Stars performance.
Buy the 2014 DCI World Championship Volume I Blu-ray set.
Buy the 2014 DCI World Championship Volume I DVD set.
(Available 20% off for a limited time only.)
Discount DVD offer ends Monday, September 19, 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.