Drum Corps International
The Tour of Champions goes indoors

The Tour of Champions goes indoors

by Michael Boo

For the third performance of the Drum Corps International Tour of Champions, Drum Corps International did some serious thinking outside the stadium. All six corps on the prestigious tour moved indoors at the large Flint Center at De Anza College in Cupertino. Emcee Dan Potter opened the show by stating, "We can assure you that structural engineers have assured us this building can withstand the sonic assault you are about to witness." One had to wonder through the event if he had spoken too soon. Each corps' performance was preceded by the same historic film clips shown at the outdoor venues along the Tour, produced by Emmy-winning Tom Blair. Phantom Regiment got things off to an elegant start with Wagner's "Elsa's Procession to the Cathedral." Indoors, this soaring testament of sound wrapped around the audience like a warm comforter. The percussion section then launched into Glinka's frenetic "Overture to Russlan and Ludmilla," displaying a strong degree of percussive pyrotechnics. The horns and percussion brought back this season's opener, "Buenos Aires Hora Cero," from their Astor Piazzola show. Minus all the tango steps on the field, one was able to concentrate on the sheer power of the horns and the intense rhythmic drive of the drums. Madison Scouts opened their segment in quite a different fashion. With a lone chime tolling as if a church bell, a solo singer sang the first few bars of "You'll Never Walk Alone," accompanied by an interpretive dance duet, soon to be joined by the entire horn line singing in harmony and much of the guard an emotional modern dance routine. Any moisture generated by the tear ducts of the audience was soon blown away by the full musical ensemble performance of "Malaga." If you thought this piece was loud and boiling over with electricity outside, you would not believe what it did to anything within the auditorium that could vibrate. Members of the audience were on their feet even before the final chord. The Theme from "Ice Castles," ("Through the Eyes of Love") concluded the presentation with body sculpturing adding to the dramatic effect, as one of the most tender ballads ever to hit the field evolved into one of the most screaming pieces to ever pierce the evening sky. Just the mention of Santa Clara Vanguard's name elicited a strong roar from the local audience. The corps opened with the beginning theme to "Scheherazade," bringing the cymbal squad up front to show off their remarkable and visually captivating routine. The snare and tenor parts were also quite more apparent in the concert setting. A small ensemble of eight horns and pit performed the jazz piece that won the ensemble the high honors at the DCI World Championships Individual and Ensemble Competition in the mixed ensemble caption. An ensemble of 27 lower voiced horns treated the audience to a special arrangement of an old corps classic, "Send in the Clowns," which was stunning in its low voice treatment. A big surprise was the corps' chosen finale, "Bottle Dance" from "Fiddler on the Roof," complete with six guard members doing the famed corps trademark dance in authentic guard costumes from the 1970s. To say the audience freaked would be an understatement. Starting with a lovely brass-only warm-up chorale, the Blue Devils reminded all why they own more high brass trophies than any other corps. The chorale quickly sequed into some of the corps famous space chords that were so beloved by corps founder Jerry Seawright, who always requested to hear some when he was at a rehearsal. The warmup disintegrated into nothingness as a loud rap piece came over the speakers and the guard, dressed in street gear, took the stage and showed off its collective funk and limberness. A lone snare drummer was brought out by a couple departing dancers to play a funky solo break with a stick in one hand and no stick in the other. The entire drum battery came on stage to perform a bombastic rock-out cadence to close out the corps' act. The Cavaliers were announced as the new DCI Champions and that statement was enthusiastically greeted by an appreciative California audience. The full musical ensemble commenced its show with the Latin rock segment from "007." The pit followed with a symphonic ensemble piece, Beethoven's "Pathetique," that won the Individual and Ensemble Competition's Percussion Ensemble competition, showing off their mallet chops. The horns surprised fans by playing Puccini's operatic aria, "Un Bel Di." Coming back to this year's field show, the main James Bond theme was delivered with cocky aplomb, with the horns finishing off with a sensitive medley of both the corps themes, "We Are the Corps, The Cavaliers" and "Over the Rainbow." There was no partisanship from the audience as they stood to warmly embrace the corps, with additional applause when emcee Dan Potter reminded the audience that they had just heard the current World Champion. The Cadets opened their act with an incredible ensemble of six that play havoc with "William Tell Overture" and somehow evolves into the full corps earsplitting rendition of Van Morrison's "Moondance." The wacky ensemble provided a transition to the full guard performance to the Motown version of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." The mallets took over to introduce the theme from this year's "Thick as a Brick" segment of the Jethro Tull show, leading into the "can you outdo this" antics of various horn and percussion sections. The trumpet section poured into the audience as the corps turned it up a few levels to pound out their closer.
What a night this was. It is hoped that Drum Corps International can offer such an event again in the future. But it isn't all over ... not quite yet. Tomorrow night is the final event of this premier Tour of Champions, as the six corps take to Spartan Stadium in San Jose for one last offering of field shows and "Instant Encores," plus the massed corps works that will leave fans screaming for more just one more encore before the corps all part and head their separate ways until the 2005 season.

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