Crossmen To Participate In Texas Drum Corps Preview
There may be no more perfect setting to get your first glimpse of the Texas Crossmen than on the steps of the State Capitol in Austin.
The corps will debut their 2007 musical repertoire of "Metamorphosis" during the 3rd Annual Texas Drum Corps Preview on June 16 at 7:30 p.m. on the south steps of the Texas State Capitol Building in Austin, Texas. The legendary ‘Bones,’ the only DCI Division I corps from the Lone Star State, will join five other Texas-based drum corps as they usher in this extraordinary summer season. Corps performing include the Austin Stars, World Gone Mad, Gulf Coast Sound, Frontier and Revolution.
Each corps will present music from their 2007 repertoire, then six hornlines will come together producing a magnificent sound when they play the state song "Texas, Our Texas" and "America The Beautiful."
"This is one of the most anticipated drum corps events in Texas," said Brent Unger, organizer of the preview and founder and director of the Austin Stars Drum and Bugle Corps. "It’s a wonderful way for corps fans and members to come together and just have fun and enjoy the music and camaraderie in a non-competitive environment."
As soon as the news hit the activity in September 2006 that the Crossmen were relocating operations to San Antonio, Texas, Unger contacted Director Mark Chambers and George Hopkins, Chief Executive Officer of Youth Education in the Arts, the non-profit organization that supports the corps, about participating in the Preview. For Unger, the idea seemed the perfect way for the Crossmen to begin their 2007 season from the great state of Texas.
"It has always been my dream that someday the drum corps activity would grow and thrive in my home state of Texas. I never understood why a state with so many great band programs and so much talent would have few, or no drum corps at all," Unger said.
Chambers confirmed the corps’ participation earlier this winter after completing audition camps for the Crossmen that brought out nearly 400 hopeful musicians and performers, all wanting to be part of this historical year within the activity. Since 1975, the Crossmen have been based on the East Coast, their recent move sending ripples through the drum corps community.
The Crossmen will arrive in Austin to perform in the Preview following four weeks of intense rehearsals during Spring Training. Their first DCI competitive event will follow one week later on June 23 in Toledo, Ohio.
The first Texas Drum Corps Preview was held in June 2005 through a joint effort of three corps’ directors: Jason Rose of Gulf Coast Sound, Chris Green of Frontier and G.M. Kuzma of Revolution. The beautiful setting of the Arneson River Theater on the Riverwalk and the Alamo in San Antonio was the site of the first event where it was met with rave reviews. Unger happened to take a trip to his hometown of Austin, visiting the majestic State Capitol building, and thought it could be the perfect location for the Preview.
"I contacted the corps’ directors to propose the idea of moving the event to the capitol in Austin and they gave me their blessing to organize the event," Unger said. "It has continued to be a cooperative effort since most expenses associated with the event are shared equally amongst all participating corps."
A state sponsor is required to use the capitol grounds, and thanks go out to Rep. Donna Howard who this year helped secure the south steps for the event, Unger said. The Austin Stars Performing Arts Association is the sponsoring organization with many of the participating corps helping in various ways, including lending equipment, conductor podiums and audio systems.
Unger currently serves on the brass staff of the Austin Stars and carries a vibrant history within the activity, as a member, clinician and instructor. A native of Palestine, Texas, he marched with Star of Indiana in 1988, the all-age corps Bayou City Blues of Houston in 1999 and 2000 and the 2004 Alumni corps of Star of Indiana. In between, he was on the brass staff of Lone Star in 1993 and visual staff of Suncoast Sound in 1995.
He co-founded Music City Legend, an all-age corps in Nashville, Tenn., and in late 2005 began laying the groundwork for the Austin Stars Performing Arts Association, the parent organization of an all-age corps, winterguard and winter drumline.
Organizing the Texas Drum Corps Preview is just a natural extension of his passion for drum corps and a celebration of how the activity has grown within the state. Unger encourages fans to make a weekend of the event, taking in other sights of the capitol city as well as the live music scene for which Austin has become famous.
"A lot of people have shared the same dream that I have and it’s a great thrill to see all of our corps together at such a breathtaking location," Unger said. "By the time the program finishes, we’ll have a gorgeous Texas sunset and the state capitol building will be bathed in lights that evening…all stunningly beautiful."
For more information on the Texas Drum Corps Preview, go to www.austinstars.org. There is no admission to the Preview and metered parking around the capitol building is free on weekends. Visitors can also park at the State Visitors Parking Garage on San Jacinto and 12th Streets, three blocks from the capitol. Fans are also welcome to bring a picnic, blankets and lawn chairs.