New Members Of Empire Statesmen Staff

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Two key instructors are joining the Rochester Empire Statesmen staff, one new to the corps and one a former member, to help create a look and sound an octave above the ordinary for the corps’ 25th anniversary year field show in 2008.

Pete Weber will design the drill, while former corps member Jim Steele will serve as brass caption head. Returning members of the Empire Statesmen administration and instruction team for 2008 include assistant director and drum major David Bruni, business manager Allen Buell, brass arranger Jerry Kelsey, percussion arranger Colin McNutt and color guard designer Peter Garrow. World Drum Corps Hall of Fame associate member Ron Abate is also returning to serve as a consultant to the corps.

Weber graduated with a Bachelor of Music Education from Illinois Wesleyan University, in May, 2000. In the past five years, he has designed the drill for such internationally famous corps as the Vanguard of Santa Clara, California; Madison Scouts of Wisconsin and the Colts of Dubuque, Iowa. Previously, he performed in the Chicago Cavaliers brass line and marched as drum major. He is a designer, consultant and adjudicator for high school bands throughout the United States.

Steele is a former brass soloist and instructor returning to Empire Statesmen after a few years serving as brass caption head and touring with Spirit from Jacksonville (Alabama) State University (JSU). The corps, well-known for highlighting its southern heritage with blues-tinged music, first competed in 1977 as Spirit of Atlanta, sponsored by a local television station its first two seasons. In 2001, the corps reorganized as Spirit from Jacksonville State University, becoming one of the first university-affiliated corps.

During the Empire Statesmen’s 25th anniversary year, staff and instructors will continue to seek innovative ways to entertain audiences and opportunities to promote the pageantry of marching music beyond the drum corps contest field.

The Empire Statesmen’s success on the contest field has been constant throughout the corps’ history, which includes five Drum Corps Associates (DCA) world championships, four American Legion championships, and the triple crown in 1998: the DCA and American Legion titles and the World Show Band championship all in the same year. Empire Statesmen have finished in the top four during DCA championship tournaments for 20 consecutive years.

The World Drum Corps Hall of Fame chose the Empire Statesmen as the 1990s all-age corps of the decade, in recognition of their success on the contest field, and the innovative scheduling of mid-summer concert tours outside North America to introduce drum corps entertainment to audiences in such countries as Mexico, England, Sweden, Denmark, Brazil, Bermuda, the Netherlands, and France.

The Empire Statesmen have also reached new audiences while performing in such events as the Ryder Cup golf tournament and the International Marine Tattoo in Rochester, the President’s inaugural parade in Washington, D.C., the Rochester Lilac Festival, a special concert for the Greater Rochester Visitors’ Association (GRVA), aboard ship during a World Drum Corps Hall of Fame winter cruise, during half time at Hamilton Tiger Cats and Buffalo Bills professional football games, in Memorial Day parades in neighboring Irondequoit and Pittsford, during a family festival in Geneva, New York and the Burlington (Ontario) Sound of Music Festival Grande Parade.

The Statesmen operate the Empire Cadets youth marching band as a community outreach program. In addition, the Statesmen have helped raise more than $300,000 for Rochester and area school music programs, by participating in benefit concerts over the past 20 years. These benefit performances taken place not just in the Rochester area, but across western New York and across the border in southern Ontario, Canada.

The Empire Winterguard program is one of several special projects that Empire Statesmen will offer during the corps’ 25th anniversary season in 2008. The second of two audition sessions takes place November 3 from noon to 8 pm at Our Lady of Mercy High School, 1437 Blossom Road in Rochester, with the first rehearsal to be held the following day.

The Statesmen also operate the Empire Cadets youth marching band as a community outreach program. In addition, the Statesmen have helped raise more than $300,000 for Rochester and area school music programs, by participating in benefit concerts over the past 20 years. Most of these concerts are held on winter weekends, the same time the Empire Statesmen winterguard will be traveling the contest circuit.

The Empire Statesmen organization offers many opportunities for involvement beyond participating as a performer or support staff volunteer. 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.

For information, call (585) 266-2232 or visit the Empire Statesmen Web site at:

Posted by on Sunday, November 4th, 2007. Filed under DCA News.