Drum Corps International

Ken Turner

Ken Turner

Ken Turner

Inducted in 2018

Ken Turner’s drum corps career began in 1959 as a horn line member of the Apalachin Grenadiers from Owego, New York. Upon aging out, he became not only a brass instructor for the corps, but also its arranger as well. Over the years, he also served in capacities as diverse as arranger, instructor, program coordinator, and consultant for corps including the Empire State Express, Empire Statesmen, Syracuse Brigadiers, Oakland Crusaders, Bridgemen, and Phantom Regiment.

Nominator Charles A. Poole, Jr., DCI Hall of Fame Class of 1998, states, “Professionally, Ken Turner is a legend in New York State music education. He never strayed far from home leading the Johnson City, New York School District Director of Music and Fine Arts for 27 years. Under his guidance, Johnson City High School earned Grammy Signature Awards on six occasions and five times the district was presented the ‘100 Best Communities in America for Music Education’ award by Music for All, the Music Educators National Conference, and the National School Boards Association.”

Prior to his retirement, Turner was commissioned to lobby members of Congress on behalf of music education and the arts as a member of NAMM’s National Congressional Advocacy Committee.

As a Drum Corps International judge, Turner has held the positions of DCI Chief Judge and Judge Administrator, DCI Brass Caption Chairman, and served as a member of the DCI Task Force on Judging and the Drum Corps 2000 Strategic Planning Committee.

Fellow judge Jeff Mitchell points out that in 1994, Turner designed the DCI judging system for Music Effect and Music Ensemble that remains in use today, largely unchanged. According to Mitchell, “This has had a huge and mostly unappreciated impact on the design of shows and helped foster the advanced musical design we have today.”

Up until then, brass and percussion captions were evaluated separately. With the addition of the Music Effect and Music Ensemble captions, brass and percussion became judged as a single musical entity. Turner then took the lead in training judges to see the entire musical picture required by the new sheets.

Poole says, “Ken is most widely recognized for his intuitive, nurturing, and perceptive abilities as an adjudicator. He is heralded as the gold standard in music effect adjudication. His sense, knowledge, and appreciation of design, coordination, and effective performer delivery of program content has made him a staple of DCI World Championship contests for the past 35 seasons.”

DCI Hall of Fame Class of 1996 member Jim Prime, Jr. says that his evolution as a DCI instructor and arranger was directly influenced by frequently encountering Turner as a judge, adding, “His commentary and evaluation always helped us get better, to ponder something that we hadn’t thought of before, or to address some programmatic or musical issue in a different manner.”