By Dave HillHAMELN, GERMANY -- The Starriders Drum and Bugle Corps of Bad Munder, Germany roared into Wesserbergland Stadium on Sept. 14, and, before a sellout crowd, captured the dual titles of Drum Corps Germany and German Open Champions with a score of 86.6, over rival and 2001 Champion Wolper Lowen (86.2), Dutch corps and past champion Julianna (83.8), and 11 other German and Dutch drum corps and bands.With their fast-paced, open class level show of "Artistry in Jazz," the 40-member corps received no less than three standing ovations during and immediately following their electrified performance of Kenton's "Artistry in Rhythm," Buddy Rich Big Band's middle segment of "Channel One Suite," Hank Levy's "Pegasus," and a revised/updated version of the Madison Scout signature tune "Ballet in Brass."The Starriders, who were undefeated in 2002, didn't enjoy an easy road to the finals. Losing members along the way to numerous medical problems, including a serious spinal surgery for one of the lead baritones, and the lack of a regular, out-front brass and percussion staff, gave them pause to wonder if the season might not be a bust. But for the members and citizens of the small, serene little village in north/central Germany, who do things like hug each other as they arrive at rehearsals, and cry openly when they are moved emotionally, they were not going to sit down on the season.For the last two weeks leading up to finals the corps was assisted in their quest me, Dave Hill. I am an American brass arranger and 40-year drum corps veteran, and a former Drum Corps International judge and arranger to drum corps and bands on four continents. I was joined by Canadian Gareth Skipp, a Drum Corps International judge and, most recently, visual designer for the New York Patriots (Division II) Drum and Bugle Corps. The Starriders' percussion was arranged by Robb Muller, brass and percussion arranger for the La Crosse Blue Stars and Halftime Entertainment Coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings Football Team. Guard concepts and design were penned by Ian Kirk from The United Kingdom.The two weeks of hard work paid off on the night as the Starriders took top Visual Technique by over a point and top color guard by nearly the same spread, while holding their own in brass and percussion. "I was amazed by the level of energy they put out after an 8 hour prep on Finals day", said Gareth Skipp, who is enjoying his first season with the corps. As if to put an exclamation point on the whole event, following an all-night party for the competing groups hosted by the Starriders at their headquarters in Bad Munder, the two visiting staff members (me and Skipp) were taken to Hannover International Airport early on Sunday morning for their flights home. After a quick coffee in the terminal, our driver asked us to come outside for a moment saying, "You've got to see this." With puzzled looks, we got up and walked out the front door to be greeted by the entire corps in concert formation playing the 2002 championship show.It was an amazing and humbling experience. Tired corps members got up early and drove the 35 miles to the airport, set up and played a tribute of thanks. "A truly inspiring and magical moment that can never be forgotten," said Skipp.2003 marks the 20th anniversary for the little corps from Bad Munder, whose hearts and spirit are surely one of a kind in this day and age.
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