DCW On-Line: Hornell NY Review

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Empire Statesmen blow away field in Hornell

July 10, 2010 — Hornell, NY . . . The DCA schedule returned to Hornell this evening after a lengthy absence as the Empire Statesmen solidified their position as the leading contender to knock the Reading Buccaneers from their top spot this season.

“Music Under the Stars” was sponsored by the city of Hornell under perfect weather conditions. This was the twenty-first consecutive year for this event as over two thousand fans filled Maple City Park Stadium. The Spartans, on first in exhibition, performed our National Anthem.

I heard from several sources that the Empire Statesmen may have their strongest corps in several years. Seeing them for the first time this year, I definitely believe that this is the case. If you are a fan of the ?Wizard of Oz? or the Broadway shows “Wicked” and “The Wiz,” you will be totally entertained with this production, done Statesmen-style.


The corps has incorporated all three music stories into one highly visual and entertaining show. The wicked witch, using her broom as a baton, leads the horn line onto the field after their warm-up while Drum Major David Bruni dons an emerald green jacket. The color guard does an excellent job telling the story and their use of the large colored butterfly silks added a great deal of color spread over the field.

The percussion section is always a strong part of the corps, but during the feature, the tenors are set back far and all that is going around them seems to take away from their portion of the feature. From Dorothy’s house set on the left front sideline to the witch?s castle set to the right front sideline (the castle blows smoke during the show) fans are treated to watching a Broadway production on a field. Taking first in visual, brass and effect, next week?s show in Lewisburg, PA, shapes up as a measuring stick as to where this show stands against the Buccaneers.

The Connecticut Hurricanes, after spending the past two seasons ?out West,? have returned home and are giving thanks with their ?Heaven-Sent? program. The opening form resembles an angel?s wings as Tyler Prophe is the featured trumpet soloist while the rest of the horn lines plays to the backfield. The opening drill pattern features the percussion line in a diamond-shaped form displaying many different body visuals. This year?s percussion section will definitely turn heads and grab attention.

The ?Joyful, Joyful? opener showcases each section of the horn line with a small brass ensemble displaying their talents. Paul Beaumont on trumpet and Andrew Timosca on baritone are the featured soloists in “God Said,” with a very strong weapons line up-front.  The horn line ends this number in a large ?park and play.? During the ballad ?Before the Throne of God,? watch the drum line play with their hands instead of their sticks and the body visuals displayed by the horn line.

The front percussion is very strong and larger than normal for the Hurcs. After suffering their first loss in two seasons at the ?Barnum Fetival,? the color guard was on fire tonight. Their work, along with the written demand that is asked of them, was cleanly done and well-received by the fans. Janos Pergely, Sarah Zello and Danni Lenior are the featured performers and portray their roles very artistic in style.

This show is extremely visual in content and high on demand in the drill patterns, and will grow very quickly as cleaning and changes occur. Taking first in color guard and percussion, the Connecticut Hurricanes hopefully have a higher power on their side as the season progresses.

Connecticut Hurricanes
Drum Corps World photo by Moe Knox

The surprise corps of the evening had to be CorpsVets from Atlanta, GA, as the long bus ride did not take any energy or intensity out of their performance. The new uniforms look a little Santa Clara-like and are very sharp. The show title for 2010 is ?360,?” featuring music from the Walt Disney World ?Millennium Celebration Suite.? The six-time DCA South champions came to Hornell intent on making a statement and they did in a very large way.

The opening set has the brass line in a block at center stage as large yellow circular hoops are placed in a semi-circle around the field. The vastly-improved color guard is dressed in blue uniforms and uses pink silks in the opening number. The drill patterns are rapid-paced, with many stop and go’s as there is more demand written into the show this season. As the production progressed, it sounded as if the horn line gained strength and volume.

The percussion section is also much improved over last year and displayed many different visuals to the fans. Watch the cymbal line in the closing number, ?We Go On,? as they perform head and knee chops on one another at center stage while the brass licks from the horn really grabbed fan?s attention.

The audience rewarded CorpsVets with a large standing ovation at the end of their show. Placing second in color guard and field brass, this corps is definitely knocking on the top-five door. My only drawback to them is that I will not see them again until prelims in Rochester.

The Kingston Grenadiers will definitely be in the mix for the Class A title as their ?Without Warning? program grows during the season. The music is from Stephen Melillo?s ?Stormworks? as the small size did not detract from the large sound that came from the corps tonight.

The percussion section is the strong point at this point in the season as they finished third in ensemble percussion. The color guard uses purple and silver silks in the opener as some work-related timing issues were noticed, but will be easily corrected with more practice. This was another horn line tonight that seemed to gain strength as the show went on, after some opening moment struggles.

The front percussion is very talented and their use of the equipment to sell the storm sounds to the fans and judges was well-done. I had to look up in the sky at this point to make sure all was well with the weather. I enjoyed this show and will get to view it again several times this season. My only negative point was that the show sponsors should have had the Canadian Anthem played also before the show began. Are you listening, future sponsors?

The White Sabers are once again using music from Cirque du Soleil as their 2010 program, ?Worlds of Imagination,? takes the field. The corps is very small, but balanced, with 13 horns, 12 percussion and eight color guard. They use a full-field opening spread with the guard using purple and gold silks at center stage. The trumpet solos in the opener were well done, but feet issues in the drill patters were evident.

The size of the horn line does not reflect the heart that this corps has to succeed and with more new members added they will be moving up the scoring ladder each week. The percussion line at times seemed to over power the horns and had difficulties in their musical playing. The saber line, along with the white silks, portray their roles well, but need to sell themselves more to the fans and judges.

The contra duet in the closing number was a high impact moment as they sold their spotlight to the stands very well. I am a huge fan of ?Cirque du Soleil? and did enjoy watching the White Sabers perform music from some of their shows. Again, with more members added in, will make some noise come Labor Day weekend.

The Brigadiers Summer Visual Ensemble presented the opening exhibition with their ?Seated Anticipation? program. If you are familiar with WGI or high school indoor guards, you will enjoy watching this production on a football field. Using the music from ?Candide,? the 22 members use black folding chairs as props during the show.

Up next in exhibition was Spartans in their fifty-fifth year of existence and they are the five-time DCI Open Class Champions. Their 2010 show is called ?Fire Dances? as the horn line of 28 is in an arc form to start the show, while the percussion line is in a file on the 50 yard line. The horn line displayed good control in their musical charts throughout the performance.

The color guard is well-balanced in both their weapon and silk presentations. I liked watching the body visuals displayed by the horn line during the show. The trumpet and mellophone duet in the ballad was well-done. The percussion line was solid tonight and displayed a great deal of artistic playing.

A blast from the past was up next as Mighty St. Joe’s took the field from the 20 yard line the old-fashioned way in the opener of ?Bully.? The large horn line featured many talented trumpet soloists in the musical charts presented.The nine silks and rifles showed off their talents and are well-written into the drill patterns. The color pre of ?Battle Hymn of the Republic? had fans on their feet with a large honor guard to present the colors.

The drum solo was well-done, as was the concert number of ?Hey, Big Spender.? ?Children of Sanchez? featured the trumpet line as the corps exited the field to the right corner, then re-entered the old-school way. An encore of ?Georgia? at track side concluded a fine showing from this longtime fan favorite.

To conclude the evening, Jersey Surf brought their ?Living the Dream? program to Hornell with a salute to America. The guard uses red, white and blue silks throughout the show and add much to the visual content. The corps is very large and puts a show on the field that is filled with energy and emotion.

The Ray Charles version of ?America the Beautiful,? complete with an outstanding baritone soloist and super-high rifle tosses, was truly a drum corps moment to remember in 2010. With the front percussion section and the sound acoustics projecting fireworks sounds to the stands, the ?Star Spangled Banner? overture during the closer is a must-see this summer. The volume steadily increases, with more high weapon tosses thrown in and then the horn line charges to the front, concluding a strong and very emotional exhibition. As the Surf concluded their show, all I could say was, ?WOW!?

The City of Hornell is to be commended for bringing DCA back to their city as Mayor Shawn Hogan and his staff did a great job running this event. The fans tonight were fantastic as each corps trooping the stands and received a loud standing ovation.

A drum-majors-only retreat followed as the scores were announced. The Empire Statesmen then performed a victory concert, but the best was yet to come as the CorpsVets joined forces with the Statesmen to do another encore of ?Georgia? which was followed by another at the fan?s request.

All in all, it was a great night for drum corps and all the performers in competition and exhibition gave the fans everything they had.

You may discuss this review on the DCP Forums. We’d love to hear your feedback.

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Posted by on Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010. Filed under DCW On-Line.