Drum Corps International
Thompson, LeSeth, Moore, others return to Madison Scouts

Thompson, LeSeth, Moore, others return to Madison Scouts

by Drum Corps International

From a Madison Scouts press release: Building on a remarkable 2003 season, the designers, technicians and instructors responsible for that Madison visual production have returned to the corps for 2004. Director Sal Salas announced the appointments recently by stating, "These outstanding artists have put us back in touch with the heart of our audience by creating a fresh, innovative take on our powerful heritage." Madison's legions of fans seem to agree that the corps has kept its unique visual identity while gaining a new depth and intellect. "Given our special bond with the spectators," added Salas. "We know they want a full variety of effects. I think these are the designers who can deliver the goods." Chiefly responsible for this fresh new vision of the Madison look are designers Jamey Thompson (drill/staging) and Jennifer LeSeth (color guard), assisted by choreographer Lionell Moore. Thought of as "young turks" within the drum corps community, they should, in fact, be considered true veterans for their longevity and contributions to the activity. Both have brought forward a wealth of singular ideas, not the least of which is the visual reimagination of the Scouts. Jamey Thompson has been involved as a marching member, designer, or adjudicator for over 20 years. He currently designs for competitive high school marching bands from Indiana, Arizona, Texas, Florida and Mississippi. In addition to the Scouts, he designs for the Empire Statesmen senior corps from Rochester, N.Y., and Momentum Winter Percussion from Arizona. He served in that same capacity for the Glassmen from 1997 through 2002, and Avant Courir (the 1996 Dutch Winter Guard Champions). Thompson marched in the Cavaliers the Cavaliers' Winter Guard. He is a member of the Midwest Judges Guild, serving as an adjudicator for bands and guards across the country. He holds a degree in business administration from Loyola University in Chicago, and received his CPA certification within the same year. With a background in public accounting and not-for-profit management, he was named managing Director of the Windy City Performing Arts from 1997-2000, producing choral concerts throughout Chicago and the Midwest. To this day, several Northern Illinois businesses count on Thompson as a free-lance accountant and management consultant. At the announcement of his appointment, he said "I'm delighted to be part of the next chapter in this exciting corps' history." Jennifer LeSeth seems no less energized by the challenges facing the group for 2004. She returns to the Scouts with over 19 years of performance, design, and instruction experience. As a drum corps performer, "Jenifo" marched with the Phantom Regiment Cadets, the Phantom Regiment and the Cadets. Her winter guard performing career included five seasons with the Guardsmen of Schaumburg (Ill.), two seasons with State Street Review of Madison (Wis.), and two seasons of Escapade, from Dayton, Ohio. As a designer and instructor Jennifer's drum corps experience includes the Bluecoats, Crossmen and the Phantom Regiment. She worked for eight years with the Bands of America titlist Marian Catholic High School Band from Chicago Heights, Ill., and two years with the noted Spring, Texas, band. Most recently, her work has been seen with the guards for the innovative Jackson Academy (Miss.) and award-winning Plymouth-Canton (Mich.) High School Bands. Jennifer's dramatic vision for the Madison Guard has drawn praise from fans, judges and the performers themselves. Equally praiseworthy is the work of choreographer Lionell Moore. Known primarily as a professional dancer and teacher in the Chicago area, he is no stranger to the pageantry arts. From the River City Regiment and Sky Ryders to the Cavaliers, Lionell performed during his years garnering a BFA Degree from Cornell College in photography. He also performed with Escapade and Adagio color guards, instructing Adagio as well. He served as movement technician for the Bluecoats, and then moved to Chicago to teach the Mt. Prospect, Lincoln-Way and Marian Catholic high schools. While studying ballet at the Lou Conte School of Dance in Chicago, Moore began to explore the options of jazz, tap and modern, eventually auditioning for the revolutionary Jump Rhythm Jazz Project, a company known for its fusion of these elements. On tour worldwide with "JRJP" for three years, he participated in a Jazz Symposium in Helsinki, Finland, and taught master classes at Knox College and Western Kentucky University. Continuing to study and teach styles as divergent as ballet and hip-hop, Moore creates choreography from which both audience and performer alike can share an emotional experience independent of the dance. Director Salas said, "Today, there's just no substitute for experience and intelligence. The performance level of World Class Drum Corps continues to rise, so we've assembled a team of craftsmen generous with their background and insight to move us forward." A quick glance at the people who embody the components of this year's Madison visual program reveals a roster of "old pros" and fresh faces. Visual caption heads Ben Potts and Jeremy Hunt return to head the Scouts team. Potts is starting his seventh year in the activity, having been closely associated with the work of Jamey Thompson throughout that time. Over the past five years, that team has produced more than 15 marching programs, ranging from high school band to drum corps, most notably the Jackson Academy (Miss.) Band, Gibson Southern (Ind.), Castle (Ind.), the Empire Statesmen senior corps (NY), and this past edition of the Scouts. With a background as a marching member and later instructor for the Glassmen, Ben continues to work the WGI scene in both guard and percussion areas. No stranger to winter drum lines and marching bands as a designer and clinician, Jeremy Hunt pre-dates his Madison appointment with work for Glassmen and Carolina Crown. Based in Murfreesboro (Tenn.), Jeremy has served as a design specialist for Page (Tenn.) High School, Eklipse Percussion Ensemble, Father Ryan High School and Momentum Percussion Ensemble. He is now the cofounder of the new Moxie Audio Theatre of Clarksville, Tenn. Both caption heads cite the talent of their staff as the impetus to perfect and refine the Madison style, using the momentum of the members themselves as motivation. "The brotherhood of the guys just brings out the best in all of us," said Hunt. Teachers such as Dwight Emmert, director for the past 13 years of Indiana's championship Gibson Southern Band, uses his drum corps background and music education degree to augment his work with Madison. Visual Staff Consultant Joe Roche hails from a different background altogether. Currently serving as guidance counselor with the U.S. Army Recruiting Command in New York City, Roche is best known for his work with Star of Indiana and the Cadets. For that group, with which he had been associated from1987 (and 1982-1985 as a member), he worked as visual caption head from1989 to 1992. Madison veterans abound. Given their tradition of great "m and m," it is no wonder that great Madison performers become great Madison teachers. For example, Steve Morrisette has been a member and instructor with the corps, while currently pursuing graduate studies at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, where he resides. An equally familiar face is John Scruggs. He was recently named Assistant Director of Bands at Seguin (Texas) high school, where he instructs both jazz and symphonic Bands. Scruggs continues to teach marching band, as he had with the Humboldt (Tenn.) and McGavock (Tenn.) bands. The newest alumni addition to the visual team is memorable performer and former Scouts drum major (2003) Jon Newcomb. A free-lance clinician and member of the Champlin Park (Minn.) High School staff, Jon has taught throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin. Similarly, Andrew Brady, a Madison-area brass soloist and private teacher, returns to assist the Corps with the insight available to an alumnus (2002). Joining them are returning staff members Christopher LaPointe and Mikey Cowan. With extensive classroom and drum corps teaching between them, Virginian LaPointe, and Kentuckian Cowan provide the brass and percussion perspectives for the visual team. New this year will be Jarrod Huntley. A native Texan, he now hails from California, where he is affiliated with the Upland, Fountain Valley, and El Dorado High School groups, as well as the 2003 WBA Champion Mission Viejo High School. Another addition to the staff for 2004 is Jason Palmer. A degree candidate from Middle Tennessee State University, he has performed with championship groups such as Music City Mystique and the Santa Clara Vanguard. Young staff member Erick Harris and East Lake (Fla.) Band Director Jay Emmert complete this year's visual component. Recognizable names and faces make a return to the Madison color guard as well. Charlie Gumbert, director of the Pride of Cincinnati Winter Guard, will again offer his time and expertise. Long-time Madison contributors Scott Johnson and Toby Leikness return to guarantee an elevated level of teaching and performance. One of the most familiar names in color guard is K.C. Michel. Madison alumnus and WGI veteran, Michel's performing career began in 1978, followed by teaching stints with the Scouts in 1987, 1988 and 2003. He also served as caption head for the Denver Blue Knights from 1992-1994. His Pomona (Colo.) Winter Guard was the WGI Scholastic Open Class World Champion, and his Westfield (Texas) Winter Guards won eight state championships. Michel is a nationally recognized clinician on design, color and technique. Providing the perfect contrast is Andy Mroczek, Madison veteran (1998-1999), and Blue Devils Color Guard alumnus (2000-2001). Mroczek has been a part of the WGI Championship staff of James Logan High School in 2002 and 2003 while heading their Open Class Winter Guard. Mroczek has performed with Every-Body/Northern Lights World Guards, and is currently part of their 2004 cast. Rounding out the color guard staff is Byron Valentine. As a performer, Valentine was a member of the Carolina Crown (1998-1999), the Crown World Guard in 2000, and the WGI Independent World Champion of2001, Pride of Cincinnati. He has worked with many scholastic and independent Ohio color guards, notably the Miamisburg, Bellbrook and Carroll High Schools, and Eklipse Winter Guard. Currently he is the head designer for the Centerville (OH) color guard, the WGI scholastic open champions (and 2003 Bands of America Grand Nationals Finalist). According to Salas, "This is an amazing group of dedicated writers and teachers. The excitement they're generating this season is truly contagious. The Madison corps is known for its special bond with the audience, and these visual staff appointments guarantee an emphasis on entertainment and excellence."

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