Friday, August 11, 2006

Care and Feeding of My Inner Dork

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.


Ruth said...

I haven't a clue what drum corps is, but I wish we had it on this side of "the pond"!!! It sounds like a huge amount of fun.


anna said...

Jesse and I realized, on our way to the beach, we had missed the Drum Crop performance here in Tulsa. We had been seeing the commericals, planning, ect and then packing and moving hit and it just totally got forgotten.

I bet it was quiet an experience and I'm jealous you got to watch the quarterfinals.

deke said...

This past week our city has been home to the Drum Corps International Championships. Living a few blocks from one of the high school stadiums used for practice I can assure you there has been a non-stop series of large semis and charter busses bringing young talented adults from every corner of the nation to Madison, Wisconsin. This is the seventh year we have hosted this affair and tonight we will join tens of thousands at Camp Randal Stadium for the ‘Rose Bowl’ of marching band music with style, flair, and precision (not to mention incredible uniforms!) on a scale that is breath taking. In addition, ESPN 2 will be filming the event tonight and broadcasting it nationally on September 5th at 7:00 P.M. CT.

Driving through Madison this week and seeing Drum Corps members everywhere was a remarkable sight. In parking lots you would see a dozen guys playing their instruments while on the next block the drummers would be going through their cadences. While gardening this week I could hear them practice, and then practice some more. From Jacksonville, Florida to Tempe, Arizona, from Santa Clara, California to Memphis, Tennessee thousands and thousands gathered here this week. It made me proud to know our country produces such fine young men and women.

It not only takes talent to get here for this event but it takes dedication to an idea and perseverance along the way. While these kids were playing music at half time in high school some of their classmates were losing the football game to the opposing team. Lots of these young people in Drum Corps, especially the guys, probably took a great deal of ribbing and taunting for their abilities and skills while teenagers. Today as ticket sale revenues in Madison jumped past $1.3 million for Saturday’s finals, it proves that hard work and real skills are what the public desires.

When we hear about the troubles that some young adults in our society create, remember as I will, that there are many like the ones who will stage a powerhouse of a performance tonight in Madison who are the real heart and soul of their generation.

Jenny said...

wow. i never knew just *how much* of a dork you were... moves you up on my list just a little more. (hugs)

Christine said...

I just KNEW there had to be a deeper reason for why I think you rock! DCI, baby!!!

angela said...

The inner nerd in me wanted to go to our local theater *soooo* bad and watch. I had already made plans for something else but I wanted to go. Ohhh I love the DCI performances so much. I still have the VHS tape of the year (what was it maybe 1991) when Phantom Regiment did Phantom of the opera and the Phantom disappeared on the field.

I remember when they came to Vanderbilt one year and I went, oh I was in heaven!


Your nerdy friend in Los Angeles
Angela ;-)

Mom said...

Thanks for the stroll down memory lane. I am so thankful you let your mother share those adventures with you.

Mary Beth said...

It seems that I'm not the only one! So glad to know I'm in such great company.

Ruth, if you'd like to know more, you can visit the DCI website. It is great fun indeed.

Anna, I saw a show listed in Broken Arrow. Is that the one? That would've been a great one to go to. Cadets were there, although you would have had to go heavy on the 'shrooms before their performance. Glassmen were there, too. They did an amazing Beethoven show.

Deke is a lame blog-spammer.

Jenny, I'm honored. Where's the baby?

Christine, Thank you, ma'am. Right back atcha.

Angela, You are too funny. I have several years of DCI on VHS and it breaks my heart that I don't have a player on which to watch them anymore. It's OK. Jay would make fun of me mercilessly if I did, anyway. That was Santa Clara that did the Phantom show in 1989. I, too, remember thinking that was the COOLEST THING IN THE WHOLE WORLD! I think 1992 was the year they first came to Vanderbilt, the summer after we graduated from high school. I went, too, and was giddy for days afterward.

Kudos to mom, who drove my friend Sarah and I through the dark Indiana night in the summer of 1991, just so I could visit with previously-mentioned boyfriend for 15 minutes in the IU parking lot after the DCI Mid-America show. What a woman!

anna said...

MB~yep it was the Broken Arrow one...
'shrooms huh well guess I would have been clueless and now it's even sadder knowing that I did in fact miss a good show.

gavin richardson said...

uh, speechless...