Empire Statesmen ‘Family’ Members Take Top Honors
Rochester’s Empire Statesmen narrowed the gap between front-running Reading Buccaneers to less than three-tenths of a point to finish second in the Drum Corps Associates (DCA) finals, but many other members of the Empire Statesmen “family” won top individual honors during the three day weekend tournament.
Reading, PA Buccaneers retained their DCA crown on Sunday evening in PAETEC Park Stadium, with a score of 97.238. Empire Statesmen were right behind with 96.950. The Statesmen took top scores in music effect and overall effect and tied with the Bucs for top score in visual effect. The Buccaneers were undefeated during the 2006 contest season, and the only corps to defeat Empire Statesmen. Empire Statesmen won four contests, and finished second to Bucs in five meetings.
Empire Statesmen, five-time DCA champions, also finished second behind the Buccaneers in last year’s championship tournament.
Current and former members of the Empire Statesmen family flourished in the highly popular Individual and Ensemble (I and E) contests on Friday evening. A record number of more than 200 entries attracted huge crowds to five downtown Rochester performance venues in the Riverside Convention Center, the adjacent Clarion Hotel and outdoors on Main Street, which was closed to traffic to allow an old-fashioned drum corps party on the street, where the percussion contests were staged.
Three of the new members inducted to the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame on Saturday, Jerry Kelsey, Vince Monocelli and Ritchie Price, have extensive connections to the Empire Statesmen. Former Rochester resident Tom Peashey, inducted as the President’s Award winner for 2006, had a long association with the late Vince Bruni, who founded both the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame and the Empire Statesmen.
Many individuals associated with Empire Statesmen won, or placed highly, in various I and E contests.
David Martin’s brass ensemble, The Hitmen, regained top spot over last year’s winner, Prime Time. Martin was the original soloist and music director of Empire Statesmen. James Orser had the high score of 96 in the mid-range individual brass competition. Erik Lutters and Josh Rosato drummed almost perfectly in the percussion duet category, to win with a score of 99 out of 100.
Other individuals affiliated with Empire Statesmen who placed highly in the individual contests include: Valerie Vessar, second in the keyboard contest; Jim Grillo, third in the drumset category; Jim Wise, third in the contra-bass/tuba contest; Ian Conyer, fourth in the multi-tom/tenor drum contest; Heather Hubbell, fourth in the keyboard contest; Orion Wilkerson, sixth in the snare drum contest.
More than 2,500 spectators filled Empire Hall in the Riverside Convention Center to hear the contest results announced as the program wound up Friday evening.
The DCA championship tournament will return to Rochester on Labor Day weekend in 2007, sponsored again by the Empire Statesmen. Ten of the 43 DCA championships from 1965 to 2006 have been held in Rochester: four from 1968 to 1971; four from 1973 to 1976; in 1996 and 2006.
The Empire Statesmen drum and bugle corps is a self-supporting independent group that represents the city of Rochester across the United States and Canada and as far abroad as Europe, the Caribbean and South America. The organization kicked off a major capital fund raising campaign during the DCA tournament. Funds will be used to support the operations of the Empire Statesmen and such community outreach programs as the operation of the Empire Cadets youth marching band. For information, call (585) 266-2232 or visit the Empire Statesmen Web site at: www.statesmen.org