DCW On-Line: Manchester NH Review

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Citations lead field at Manchester DCI contest

July 13 — Manchester, NH . . . The sun is a big yellow globe burning in the sky to welcome drum corps fans to Memorial High School Field for the second annual “Fiesta de Musica” hosted by the Muchachos Senior Drum and Bugle Corps. it is already a favorite here in the beautiful Granite State.

The music from “Sweeney Todd” takes center stage at the beginning of the Citations’ 2008 show, “The Razor’s Edge{. And what an exiting beginning it is. As soon as this corps enters the field, the crowd can feel the excitement. This corps is charging on to the scene with new uniforms, many new instruments and many new members.

Drum Major Michael Rawding muses, “This is a year of firsts in many areas — my first year as drum major, the new uniforms and members. It is my goal to help make this a top corps.”

The routine features precise maneuvers that have the corps all over the field while the color guard flows effortlessly throughout, changing from pink flags to red and black. Music from Evanessence continues with the precision of the brass line bringing the show to a stunning end. The drum line’s beat never falters as the arrangements of Charlie Poole keep the energy level high until the last note is played.

Dutch Boy has the distinction of being one of only a few competing drum corps from Canada and it is a given they make their countrymen proud each time they perform their innovative 2008 show, “Boxed”. This routine starts with just the drum line and pit, with two color guard members performing a graceful dance. The opening is complemented with lovely orange and pink flags as a background to the brass line turning to the front and wowing the stands with the first pop of music.

Then black flags with white boxes pop up and the theme of the show starts to take form. The pit, with its excellent xylophones and kettle drums, starts the process of trying to get “unboxed.” The first movement ends with the horn line executing a bowing motion from the outside, into the box.

“Multi-Dimensional” swings into the mix with gusto and a lone saber toss is caught perfectly by a somersaulting escapee of the box. The gentle sweetness of the xylophone introduces “Another Life” as yet another change touts blue/green flags with pink boxes as the show comes to an end.

Although the Spartans are fielding a smaller corps this year, the sound is large as New Hampshire’s native sons launch into their 2008 repertoire, “Metallic Soundscapes”. The brass line catches the crowd’s attention immediately with a nice staccato rhythm in “Kingfishers Catchfire”. One lone contra can be heard throughout the show and is so effective it sounds like a section.

Spartans – Nashua, NH
DCW On-Line Photo by Pat Chagnon

The placement of the pit and full drum set further back on the field helps with good field coverage and the pit is brilliant with its mechanical churnings during “Turbine”. The maneuvers put one in mind of a World Class corps; they are sophisticated and executed smoothly, as in the wonderful turning and kneeling and bending that is done during the drum solo entering “Turning”.

There are only five guard members, but they act to complement every phase of the routine and even get in some saber tosses toward the front for the crowd to enjoy. It is clear this small corps with its big sound and even bigger heart is still the favorite for this hometown crowd.

The 7th Regiment look regal in their crisp blue uniforms as they march on to the field to perform their 2008 repertoire, “Mexican Landscapes”. Bright orange flags evoke thoughts of Mexico as the music begins. The flag line is large and so the colors jump right out at the crowd.

The brass line has a full, deep sound during the first movement, “Canyons”. The sound puts the audience in mind of a great echo off a cavernous canyon. Two color guard members perform a fiery Aztec dance as a soprano soloist accompanies them and then ends the dance and solo with a back flip. The movement ends with a graceful saber toss.

An enthusiastic crowd showed their appreciation for the booming sound of “La Fiesta Mechanical”, which featured an ending complete with sea blue flags, the color of Mexican waters.

Les Stentors’ theme this year, “Sinbad: the Legend of the Seven Seas”, starts out with the brass line in front and the flag line hiding in back. The music starts and the cool white flags with jagged edges, like the white sea foam that Sinbad rides, fan out to the sides.

When the guard does appear, they are in adorable uniforms with a pirate theme. Even the pit gets in on the fun with pirate-like do-rags around their heads. The music is robust and Les Stentors do a great job of making Harry Gregson-Williams’ music come alive.

The pit and drum line set the tone for the faster music and the sabers intertwine the marching with some terrific tosses. Two dancers in the color guard end this exciting musical show with a bang as the horn line saves the best for last.

The Targets’ 2008 repertoire, “13th Warrior — An Extraordinary Journey”, starts out with a Middle Eastern flair. The color guard flaunts large sabers in the front of the corps as “Old Baghdad” begins with a sweet mellophone solo that turns into a duet when the deep dark sound of a contra bass is added.

The music puts one in mind of a Persian marketplace and the flags come out at the end of the selection sporting deep orange/yellow flags, the color of the desert sun. The pit is used effectively with an interesting syncopated rhythm during “Useful Servant”. A beautiful melodic soprano entry into “Fire Dragon” gets the audience ready to bid the Targets goodbye as they march off the field, their extraordinary journey ended until the next competition.

Muchachos – Manchester, NH
DCW On-Line Photo by Pat Chagnon

Muchachos’ corps director, Al Gagn,e states, “Despite the relatively small size of the organization, we continue to undertake a fairly aggressive performance schedule and still put in the time and effort required to bring drum corps competitions to Manchester.” This work is evident to the crowd as they witness drum corps returning for a second year.

The corps took the field in exhibition to start the show and the crowd went wild. This year’s production revolves around the corps’ favorite “B” sides, bringing back tunes from the past, including “Life Goes On and On” and “Impossible Dream”. But the piece de resistance was “Oye Como Va” as the audience clapped and danced along with the corps.

Another impressive accomplishment for the Muchachos this year was marching in NewYork’s “Salute to Israel” parade, where they placed second in senior corps entries out of 38 and was voted best in new “band”. Rock on, Muchachos.

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Posted by on Sunday, July 20th, 2008. Filed under DCW On-Line.