Semifinals was a spectacularly exciting day at the Drum Corps International World Championships. Scores were so tight around the cut-off for Finals, it was anyone's guess who would move on to Saturday in several positions. Six of the corps that had been fighting it out with each other all season found themselves going after just three positions, and that was without considering Magic of Orlando, who had just moved up to Division I after the Division II & III Finals.When the dust had settled, The Cavaliers sat at the top. But Blue Devils and The Cadets weren't that far behind, and we know from prior seasons that anything can happen Saturday night, and often does.The Cavaliers (1st place-99.05) continued to dominate the spectacularly accomplished field of corps. With its phenomenal coordination of all elements Frameworks generated audible 'oooos' and 'aaaahs' from the audience, mesmerizing and entrancing the fans simultaneously.Blue Devils (2nd place-97.55) continue to charm and engross with the silent movie-like Ragtime opening, the guard playing up the Chaplin-esque character of the piece. I Got Rhythm/Fascinating Rhythm revels in the joy of Gershwin's ability to connect with the pulse of America.The Cadets (3rd place-97.00) continue to make the most of the tribute to the citizens of this country in An American Revival. While On the Town and New York Memories are arousing high points, it remains Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy that leaves the audience screaming amidst huge smiles.Santa Clara Vanguard (4th place-95.70) shook the insides of the audience with the boisterous confrontation of Trivandrum (Triangle-Vanguard-Drum Corps), soothed the audience with the lovely Hanson symphony, and then ripped the same insides out with Copland's Organ Symphony.Phantom Regiment (5th place-92.80) popped off-the-line like a guided missile directed at the audience. Intense and thunderous, the horns and drums dynamically conveyed The Passion of Shostakovich while the guard threw themselves into the emotional bravadoof the music.Boston Crusaders (6th place-92.45) coated You Are My Star with such a loving tenderness that fans couldn't be blamed if their eyes teared up. The Music of Artie Shaw was especially exuberant, but it remains the human living flag effect at the end that pushes the show over the top.Bluecoats (tie 7th place-92.25) glorify with zeal the lure of the city in Urban Dances. The sunrise flag effect off-the-line leads to many colorful visual and musical effects, the workday concluding with a passionate throb of drums as the tired workers dance the night away.Glassmen (tie 7th place-92.25) know that every Odyssey has an end, and for the approach to the end of this season, some volumes in the musical program have been turned up a degree, the visual effects have become more pronounced, and the Scherzo movement hasbecome positively hypnotic.Crossmen (9th place-90.65) turned up the Heat of the Day on The Signature Series, the pulsating and intricate rhythms of the Metheny opener and the multi-rhythmic throb and brass pyrotechnics of Don Ellis' Strawberry Soup offering no room for rhythmic miscalculation.Magic of Orlando (10th place-87.10) demonstrated why it practically blew the roof off the judging sheets at Wednesday's Division II & III Finals. The soaring and colorful exoticism of Desert Winds thoroughly captivated the audience as the corps seized a spot in tonight's Finals.Spirit (11th place-86.75) blasted off-the-line with such an extreme level of fury and rage, one could be forgiven for wondering if the artificial turf was going to melt from the energy. The journey from Darkness Into Light last night was at once heartrending and life affirming.Seattle Cascades (12th place-85.95) presented a 45th Anniversary present to itself by earning a finalist position in its first year in Division I. Many in the audience had not yet witnessed the wondrous charm of City Riffs, but there were no skeptics after the corps' performance.Blue Knights (13th place-85.50) amply demonstrated that Fear and Trembling is the furthest thing from a leisurely stroll through a park. With an added intensity over Thursday's performance, the corps pulled off the musical equivalent of tossing a hungry fox into a chicken coop.Madison Scouts (14th place-84.85) make a hometown out of every city in which it performs, but the corps was specially on fire in the city that shares its name. Terms like 'scorching' and 'blistering' don't even begin to describe the heat that rose from the field during Conquest!Colts (15th place-83.90) unveiled continued Revelations throughout its performance; greater intellectual angst in Concertino for 4 Percussion and winds, increased spiritual splendor in Be Thou My Vision, and an elevated lofty optimism in New Century Dawn.Carolina Crown (16th place-81.80) demonstrated the enchantment and vigor of Greek Mythology: Stories of Gods and Hereos. The corps filled the field with alternating surges of romanticized beauty and cataclysmic aggression, capturing the many moods of the ancient gods.Capital Regiment (17th place-77.35) performed in front of its largest World Championships audience ever. The life-affirming message inherent in Climbing Everest has become a metaphor for the corps' steady ascent through the ranks over its first four years.After all the corps performed in competition, the audience was treated to a gutsy exhibition performance by the Chicago Royal Airs Alumni Corps, reprising much of its 1965 VFW Nationals-winning show. For many fans, it was the first live drum corps history lesson they've ever received.Despite the overwhelming intensity and continued waves of excitement that rolled over Camp Randall Stadium like a tsunami, Semifinals was just a warm-up for today's Finals contest. There will inevitably be some surprises as the corps let loose with everything they have left in their arsenal. And no doubt there will be so many thrills on the field, we won't be able to remember them all after we leave.
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