This time last night I was sitting in the Green Hills 16 movie theater with my friend Jason watching the quarterfinals of the Drum Corps International World Championships.
This was the first time (as far as I'm aware) that DCI has attempted a live satellite feed during Finals Week. It wasn't as good as being there live, as you might guess, but a lot of fun nonetheless. The show started at 5:12 and ended at 10:30, but Jason and I saved our places in the theater and then sneaked away to get some dinner after the first corps performed, so it was a little more bearable than sitting in a theater for five hours straight.
I used to be an avid follower of drum corps when I was in high school. I even subscribed to Drum Corps World, partly because I had a boyfriend who marched Star of Indiana one summer and partly because, well, I'm a dork. There were a surprising number of concept-based shows last night, shows in which the directors dream up a theme and then have music originally written to go along with it. When I was a fan, lo those many years ago, most of the shows were composition-based: pick a great piece of (often recognizable) music and see what happens when you have 135 brass, percussion, and color guard try to perform it on a football field.
Jason and I agreed that many of those shows that we loved in the late '80s and early '90s influenced the music we listened to, and that many of the tapes (not CDs, of course) that we bought were because we heard some great corps perform that music. William Walton's Belshazzar's Feast and Respighi's Pines of Rome and Roman Festivals became part of my collection because Star of Indiana performed such compelling and impressive shows. I'm sure I would have eventually become a fan of Aaron Copeland, but it didn't hurt that the Cadets played beautiful renditions of Appalachain Spring and Letter from Home (which I have only been able to find on the soundtrack to He Got Game. I highly recommend it). They also made me a fan of John Adams when they played Short Ride in a Fast Machine, and Leonard Bernstein when they blew everyone away with the Overture to Candide. The Phantom Regiment created a breathtaking show using Dvorak's Symphony No. 9, which I purchased the very next day, and they made me a fan of Camille Saint-Saens after their show in 1990 consisting solely of his compositions. I went to see Carmen and Les Miserables because Santa Clara Vanguard and the Cadets so moved me.
I could write pages, but I'll spare you. Sitting in that theater last night may have been one of the dorkiest things I've done in awhile, but it was good to remember how excited it once made me about music. That was a huge influence on the person I've become. I hope I will pass it down to my child.