Reading Buccaneers Announce 2009 Percussion Arrangers And Instructors

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The Reading Buccaneers Drum & Bugle Corps today announced the designers and instructors that will lead the corps’ percussion section for the 2009 season.

“The Buccaneers’ percussion program is outstanding,” said staff coordinator Carl Ruocco. “Every year, I’m in awe of what this ensemble accomplishes with only weekends to rehearse, and a shortened winter rehearsal schedule due to indoor programs. This ensemble’s success is a tribute not only to the great talent that fills the line each year, but also to the great writing and teaching that Rich Hammond and his entire team bring to the table. We’re looking to set a new standard for excellence and musicality in 2009.”

Rich Hammond (Program Coordinator, Percussion Arranger and Caption Head). A graduate of the Baltimore School for the Arts, Hammond attended the University of the Arts and the Peabody Conservatory of Music. He has been a marching member of the Hamilton Knights, the Reading Buccaneers and the Crossmen. In addition, he has performed with the National Symphony Orchestra and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. His drum corps teaching stints have included the Crossmen, the Glassmen and the Reading Buccaneers, where he has produced four world championship percussion programs. In addition to his work with the Buccaneers, Rich has been Percussion Program Coordinator for Drum Corps International’s Jersey Surf Drum & Bugle Corps, where he led the Surf to a 2007 Division II percussion title. Hammond’s resume also includes work with the WGI world champion Hatboro-Horsham and the USSBA Group 6 Open Champion North Penn Marching Knights, where he is Director of Percussion. Hammond was inducted into the Buccaneers Hall of Fame in 2007.

Mark Lortz (Front Ensemble Arranger). A celebrated composer, arranger, and educator, Mr. Lortz is employed by the Carroll County, Maryland Public Schools, where he oversees the high school’s orchestra, concert and marching bands, percussion wind ensemble, color guard and music technology programs. He is also an adjunct music professor at McDaniel College, in Westminster, MD. Lortz holds a Bachelor of Music in percussion performance and a minor in composition and piano from the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University, where he also earned two Master’s degrees in music composition and music education.

Christopher Feist (Battery Coordinator). Chris returns to the Buccaneers, where he has been on the percussion staff since 2001. His marching experience includes two seasons with the Buccaneers (1981, 1982) and two with the Crossmen (1983, 1985). Chris’ teaching experience also includes five seasons with the Crossmen (1988 – 1992) and the Reading Buccaneer Alumni Drum & Bugle Corps (2008 – present), as well as Conrad Weiser High School (1983-1988), Governor Mifflin High School (1994 – 1999) and North Penn High School (2000). A well-respected percussion judge in all local circuits since 1992, Chris has also been a private teacher of rudimental drumming in the Greater Reading area for many years. A 15-year-employee of the United States Postal Service, Chris lives in the Reading area with his faithful dog, Newman.

Laura Helmuth (Cymbals Instructor). Laura Helmuth has been a cymbals instructor with the Buccaneers since 2006. She brings great substance and imagination to one of the most unique percussion sections in the drum corps activity. Helmuth is employed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Public Welfare and has a Bachelor of Arts degree in social work. She has marched with the Westshoremen (1997), the Bluecoats (2000) and the Buccaneers (1998 – 1999, 2003 – 2005) and, in addition to her work with the Buccaneers, has taught with the Crossmen (2001 – 2002) and the Lancaster Catholic High School (2004 – present). She has consulted with multiple other high school percussion programs.

Johnny Trujillo (Tenor Drums Instructor) A 2006 graduate of West Chester University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Science in Music Education, Johnny Trujillo returns to the Buccaneers, where he has led the tenor drums section since 2007. Currently band director at Norristown High School, where he leads the concert and marching bands and the indoor and piano programs, Trujillo is also beginning his second consecutive season on the percussion staff of the Reading Buccaneer Alumni Drum & Bugle Corps. He has marched with the Bushwackers (2004) and DCI’s Phoenix (2001 – 2003) and the Cadets (2005 – 2006).

Chris Russell (Bass Drum Instructor). Chris Russell returns to the Buccaneers, where he has been a bass drum instructor since 2005. A graduate of the Cab Calloway School of the Arts in Wilmington, Delaware, Russell holds a Bachelor of Science degree in physics from the University of Delaware (2005), where he currently pursuing his Ph.D in astronomy. His marching experience includes four years with the University of Delaware marching band (2001 – 2004), where he has also taught percussion since 2005, and three years with the Crossmen (2002 – 2004). In addition to his work with the Balance in Blue, Chris has taught battery at Glasgow High School in Newark, Delaware (2002 – 2004), where he is currently battery arranger. He is percussion caption head for the indoor and outdoor programs at Cab Calloway School of the Arts and taught the Aftermath indoor line for two years (2004 – 2005).

Neil DeLucca (Bass Drum Instructor) Neil DeLucca joined the Buccaneers staff in 2008 and returns for his second season with the corps. A 2002 graduate of Upper Darby High School and a January, 2009 graduate of Temple University with a degree in marketing, DeLucca has been a marching member of the Jersey Surf (2002), the Bushwackers (2003), the Crossmen (2004) and the Cadets (2005). In addition to his work with the Buccaneers, DeLucca has taught at Bensalem High School (2004 – 2005) and Norristown High School (2005 – present).

Mike Lalli (Front Ensemble Instructor). Mike returns for his third season on the Buccaneers percussion staff, where he previously taught in 2005 and 2008. He is a graduate of West Chester University of Pennsylvania with a percussion performance degree. In 2002, Lalli was named one of the top collegiate percussionists by the Music Teachers National Association. He has been a featured guest marimbist in multiple percussion and orchestra concerts. In addition to his work with the Buccaneers, Lalli’s teaching experience includes work with Norristown High School, Upper Darby High School and North Penn High School, where he has helped lead each to percussion championships.

On Sunday, November, 30, 2008, the Buccaneers will host Membership Day 2009, at Twin Valley High School, Elverson, PA. Registration begins at 11:00. All persons interested in learning more about the Reading Buccaneers and being part of the 2009 corps are invited to attend. Please visit the corps’ web site at for more information.

Founded in 1957, the Buccaneers are a non-profit, education-oriented musical organization. The Buccaneers are a charter member of Drum Corps Associates and won the first-ever DCA world championships in 1965. Additional titles followed in 1968, 1979, 1980 and, most recently, in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 — all four undefeated championship seasons.

The Buccaneers are sponsored in part by Ray A. Master American Legion Post 217, Topton, Pennsylvania

For more information, visit

Posted by on Sunday, November 23rd, 2008. Filed under DCA News.