DCW On-Line: Toledo OH

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Santa Clara Vanguard tops field at final show before DCI

August 9, 2010 ? Toledo, OH . . . The Glassmen had the distinct honor of hosting the last World Class competition of the 2010 DCI regular season.  Their ?Summer Showcase? has become an end-of-season tradition over the past three years, offering fans a chance to get some top-notch drum corps literally in their face.

Considering the press box at the stadium might not even reach the top of section 140 at Lucas Oil Stadium, the packed stands had a perfect opportunity to enjoy the wall of sound that only a drum and bugle corps can produce.  The competing corps were all on fire, especially after a half-hour rain delay that caused corps members and fans alike to run for cover.  Once the skies (and the stands) were dry, the show went on without a hitch.

Finishing the season with a victory, the Santa Clara Vanguard swept every caption except percussion, losing that caption by just one tenth.  The California corps performed one of the most difficult musical shows of 2010 with all music by Bela Bartok.  After one of the most crowd-pleasing shows in 2009 with ?Ballet For Martha,? a show of Bartok is like eating a Sour Patch right after you finished a Hershey bar.


Finishing the season with a victory, the Santa Clara Vanguard swept every caption except percussion, losing that caption by just one tenth.  The California corps performed one of the most difficult musical shows of 2010 with all music by Bela Bartok.  After one of the most crowd-pleasing shows in 2009 with ?Ballet For Martha,? a show of Bartok is like eating a Sour Patch right after you finished a Hershey bar.

The corps was definitely sour (in a good way) tonight, performing a show full of power and emotion.  From the melodious warm-up Concerto for Orchestra chorale to the stabbing discord of Music for Percussion, Srings and Celeste, the Vanguard proved once again that Bartok works on a football field.

A corps that seems to be going in the opposite direction of SCV is the Blue Knights, performing a show of European classical standards with ?Europa.?  This is a show that gives members a chance to win the crowd right from the start, opens with Farandole and a powerful brass sound.   The ballad, Edward Elgar?s Nimrod, features the guard in stunning blue outfits, possibly one of the best guard uniforms of the season.

The percussion gets their chance to shine during the 4th movement of Brahms? First Symphony, as they open the piece and have their feature during it as well.  Tonight?s performance was exceptionally strong, as evidenced by the Music GE judge literally getting blown back in his seat by the brass line at one point during the show.  BK has been racing to the finish line with the Madison Scouts late in the season and a performance like tonight?s may help them win that race.

You know it?s a strong season for drum corps when the corps currently sitting in the 12th spot scores an 87.5.  Considering that the Glassmen opened the season above 70 for the first time in their history, it would be interesting to see where ?The Prayer Cycle? would have placed in other years.  Performing for their hometown fans and alumni tonight, the Toledo corps made them all proud, especially the top-scoring percussion section.

While the music may not be familiar to listeners, it features many opportunities for the horns and drums to shine, especially during the closer, when the horn line plays majestic statements of reverence befitting the theme of the show.  The Glassmen may open the night at finals later this week, but, based on how well all the corps are doing, this is a very good thing.

Drum Corps World photo by Brett Owens

The Crossmen have come ?full circle,? both with their show theme, ?Full Circle,? and literally, as their first and last regular season shows are in the Toledo area.  The production is all Pat Matheny, a Crossmen staple, and the corps quickly establishes that groove fans know so well with The Heat of the Day.  The show itself also comes full circle, opening with a statement of Matheny?s signature song, First Circle, and closing with a full performance of that song.

First Circle also makes appearances during the ballad, Letter From Home, which also features an incredible crescendo of sound from the horn line to end the song.  The corps fired on all cylinders tonight, showing the judges why they should make semifinals and showing fans why they should stand up and cheer for them.

Pacific Crest also made their case for making semifinals this year with a powerful horn line performance during their show, ?The Maze.?  The production features two great John Mackey selections, Asphalt Cocktail and Turbine.  Cocktail gives the horn line a chance to throw down and wail, while Turbine has the feel of a closer, as it gives fans a feeling of approaching the end of a journey.

The journey in this case is, as the theme suggests, through a maze and the drill and color guard book reflect that theme.  At times, members will seem to be trapped in a maze, struggling to find their way out.  The end reinforces that feeling, as a guard member races for the maze?s exit in the final drill form, raising his arms triumphantly as he escapes.  This was a strong show design for PC and the performance reflected that.
Entering the field to the strains of Tomorrow from the pit, the Cascades are in character from the moment they come into view, play-acting as if it?s a lazy country summer day with not a care in the world.  Soon, however, we hear the sounds of an approaching storm and the radio announcing danger.  This is how ?Silver Lining? begins, as the show goes from idyllic to tense, then slowly works its way back to good.

The tense moments happen during Allegro Impetuoso, which the corps last played in 2004, and is a chance for the brass line to show their skills with discordant stabs to finish the piece.  The ballad, River Flows in You, lives up to its name, as the music flows like water and is more introspective in nature.  Hope Awakes, an appropriate title for this show, leads into the closer, an uptempo swing version of Tomorrow.  This gets the crowd tapping their feet and ends the show on a high note, a cloud with a silver lining, if you will.

Pioneer stepped out of its Irish shell this year, but still performs with an Irish passion.  This is understandable given the show theme, ?The Corps Prayer, ?is very near and dear to the members of the corps.  The theme is expressed through both the music and the prayer itself.  After a gospel rendition of Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, the Milwaukee corps moves into Make His Praise Glorious, during which we hear the prayer for the first time.  Segments of the prayer return during the rest of the show, highlighting some of the qualities that Pioneer values.

During The Prayer, the corps focuses on the friendships forged between members.  The drum solo, Stained Glass, looks at the strong work ethic of Pioneer.  That paid off for the drum line tonight, performing at a high level and passing up Cascades in the percussion caption.  The Doxology serves as both the closer of the show and a celebration of the corps, something Pioneer communicated very well tonight, earning high praise from the fans in the stands.

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Posted by on Tuesday, August 31st, 2010. Filed under DCW On-Line.