Inside the Arc – “The Art of the Gift”

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On a beautiful summer day 69 years ago, a young Joe Montanaro took some of his buddies for a short boat cruise. They bobbed in a channel for a time and then headed straight for the opposite shore. When they crested the breakers there was much shouting and anticipation, but this was no ordinary beach party. The shore was Normandy… and this was D-Day…

In a couple of weeks, the French Consulate in New York will honor Mr. Montanaro and several of his comrades for their valor that day. He will be presented with tokens of gratitude for his part in what the French people believe was America’s (and her allies’) great gift to them: the restoration of their freedom of self-government.

Joe had to be coerced into accepting this honor. He is, it appears, much more comfortable with giving than receiving. It’s his generation of veterans, after all, that gave American youngsters the chance to experience drum corps. We owe those people, big time.

When the members of the Park City Pride arrived for their monthly music camp on a recent Sunday morning, they were greeted with a remarkable sight. On a large display table at the Bridgeport PAL Village, in full concert formation, stood an entire drum corps, over one hundred of them.

There were sopranos, altos, baritones, contra basses, a full drum line,  flags and rifle/cymbals, all with red sashes flashing and poised before a conductor in a tuxedo, his baton at the ready. Each figurine stood about ten inches from head to toe and carried the appropriate equipment, and every one had been hand crafted from pine and skillfully assembled by Joe, one at a time, over the course of the past year. The overall effect of the tableau was stunning and, with the exception of a few co-conspirators like son Tom and daughter-in-law Linda, it caught corps members completely by surprise.

Applause erupted spontaneously and out came the cell phone cameras. Everyone wanted a picture of this striking scene. “But where can we display this wondrous thing? “, some asked. Joe was ready with an answer. Each member would take one of the figures home where it could be placed anywhere deemed appropriate, one’s own personal “Oscar”.

These were, you see, a gift from Joe Montanaro to mark the 10th Anniversary of the Park City Pride.

And that’s the kind of guy he is, a consummate giver of gifts. The French know what they are doing.

Photos by Gail Langan.  Used by permission
About the Author:
Frank Dorritie is one of the legends of the activity .... a performer, instructor, arranger, adjudicator, and observer over the past 5 decades. Frank has been playing the bugle and trumpet since the 1960s, and has performed with artists like Billy Cobham and Maynard Ferguson. He has instructed and/or arranged for the Blue Devils, Cadets, Santa Clara Vanguard, Cavaliers, Chesterton and Tenri High Schools, the Bushwackers, Bridgemen and a host of others. His audio production honors include 9 Grammy Nominations, 2 Grammy Awards and membership in both the World Drum Corps and Buglers Halls of Fame. He is active internationally as a clinician and adjudicator, holds the DCA Soprano/Trumpet/Tenor Individual titles for 2003, 2005 and 2006. Frank also chairs the Department of Recording Arts at Los Medanos College. His popular brass method book, “Power and Endurance”, is available from The opinions expressed in this column are strictly those of the author.

Posted by on Saturday, August 17th, 2013. Filed under Inside the Arc.