World Drum Corps Hall Of Fame 2014 Inductees
Six new members of the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame to be inducted in August 2014 have made major contributions to the activity from the west coast through the heartland and upper Midwest to states along the Atlantic seaboard, with some making further excursions to promote drum and bugle corps activity around the world.
Inductees are elected by current members for their dedication, contributions and achievements over a long period of time in administration, arranging, adjudication, instruction, innovation and design.
This year’s Hall of Fame inductees are Pete Emmons of Concord, California; Frank Ponzo of East Orange, New Jersey; Scott Stewart of DeForest, Wisconsin; Mark Thurston of Limerick, Pennsylvania; Bob Vitti of Greenwich, Connecticut; Bob Zazzara of Elmira Heights, New York.
Pete Emmons of Concord, California
Pete Emmons has been setting the standard for visual field show design since 1967, when he created the visual design and taught Anaheim Kingsmen. The concept of assymetrical drill design he introduced in 1980 quickly shifted the visual standard of field performances to a new level, lifting the corps he taught to championship levels. During more than four decades of field show design, instruction and consulting for drum and bugle corps throughout the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Holland, Japan, France, Germany, Italy, Indonesia, South Korea, his visual concepts, including Garfield Cadets’ peace sign and Santa Clara Vanguards’ bottle dance changed the way music is presented
While he has designed, taught and served in various management positions since 1988, the Concord Blue Devils have won nine Drum Corps International (DCI) championships between 1994 and 2012. From 1968 to 1990, he designed and taught Santa Clara Vanguard, winner of the 1970 American Legion (AL) title, the 1971 Veteran of Foreign Wars (VFW) title and DCI titles in 1973, 1974 and 1978. He performed as a soprano horn player then drum major from 1959 to 1966 with Casper Troopers, winning the World Open championship in 1965 and the VFW title in 1966.
He has been a member of the DCI Hall of Fame since 1989 and was named to the Santa Clara Vanguard Hall of Fame in 2013.
Frank Ponzo of East Orange, New Jersey
Frank Ponzo has served as assistant horn instructor with some of the best-known drum and bugle corps in North America since the mid 1980s, but is better known to audiences as a dazzling soprano soloist with Long Island Sunrisers, Connecticut Hurricanes and Hawthorne Caballeros competitive and alumni corps. He also performed as soloist with West Sayville Golden Eagles of Long Island for 20 years from 1990 to 2010 while he was marching with both Hawthorne groups. He was the Drum Corps Associates (DCA) soloist of the year in 1994 and 1997 and won the DCA Showmanship Award in 2000. He initiated what has become a Hawthorne tradition when as a member of the Caballeros competing corps he began to attend alumni corps rehearsals to play some of the original music with members who had helped the corps achieve such high levels of success in earlier years. He was a member of the alumni corps from 2001 to 2008, performing and assisting the horn instructor.
He began his long involvement with drum and bugle corps activity with the North Bellmore Flames fire department corps, playing baritone and soprano horn from 1976 to 1986. He then served as the Flames’ horn instructor until 1990 while also performing with and teaching the Sunrisers’ horn line.
He was inducted into the Buglers Hall of Fame in 2005 and the New Jersey Drum Corps Hall of Fame in 2006.
Scott Stewart of DeForest, Wisconsin
Scott Stewart’s drum corps activities were based in Madison, Wisconsin for 25 years when he served as director of Madison Scouts from 1977 to 2002, but his impact on the drum corps community was felt as far afield as Europe. His association with Madison Scouts began as a baritone player from 1968 to 1974. He was a staff member for the following two years.
He served on the Drum Corps Midwest (DCM) executive board from 1982 to 2003, including 10 years as chairman. He also served on the Drum Corps International (DCI) board for many years between 1980 and 2000, including the chair’s position. He co-chaired the campaign to bring the DCI championships to Madison for the first time in 1985.
He took Madison Scouts on an 18-day tour of Europe in June 1988, presenting clinics, shows and social events in Germany, the Netherlands and England.
He used his management skills to guide the Madison Drum Corps Association out of debt, leaving the organization with a net worth of more than $1 million dollars and $400,000 in reserves when he departed in 2002. By that time, the Association was sponsoring three successful drum corps with total membership of more than 350 young men and women: Madison Scouts, Capital Sound of Madison and Southwind of Lexington, Kentucky.
He directed the 2006 Madison Scouts Alumni reunion project including a popular exhibition during the DCI championships. The following year, he became director of Racine Kilties. He was inducted into the DCI Hall of Fame in 1993.
Mark Thurston of Limerick, Pennsylvania
Mark Thurston is a highly regarded percussion clinician and educator with an unbroken record of activity that began when he first played snare drum with Utica Royaleers from 1968 to 1971. He served as Winter Guard International (WGI) director of percussion education in 1997 and 1998 and has been WGI director of percussion since 1999. He previously served as a WGI percussion adjudicator in 1996. He has been a marching percussion artist and clinician for Zildjian cymbals since 1985. The Zildjian-Mark Thurston scholarship has been presented to WGI percussionists since 2010.
He was a Drum Corps Associates (DCA) percussion/music adjudicator from 2005 to 2011. In 2006, he also served as a Drum Corps International (DCI) percussion adjudicator.
Reading Buccaneers won the Drum Corps Associates DCA championship in 2012 and 2013 when he served on the show production and percussion staff. The Bucs also took the DCA percussion title in 2012. He was percussion arranger for Spirit of Atlanta in 1997 and Westshoremen in 1990 and 1991. He served in several positions with the Crossmen from 1983 to 1996, including arranger, snare technician and percussion caption head.
Before joining the staff, he played snare drum with Crossmen from 1979 to 1982. He previously played snare drum with Yankee Cadets and Avant Garde in the 1970s.
He was named to the Crossmen Hall of Fame in 2003 and the WGI Percussion Hall of Fame in 2006.
Bob Vitti, of Greenwich, Connecticut
Between 1999 and 2009 when Bob Vitti was percussion coordinator, hiring staff and overseeing the entire percussion production, Syracuse Brigadiers won the Drum Corps Associates (DCA) championship five times, including three percussion titles. While working with the Medford, New York, Grenadiers junior drum and bugle corps as percussion caption head and arranger from 1980 to 1984, he produced three consecutive Garden State championship percussion titles. He played snare drum with Stateliners junior drum and bugle corps of Greenwich, Connecticut from 1966 to 1975, with the drum line winning high percussion honors while going undefeated three competitive seasons in a row from 1970 to 1973. He also competed in many individual and ensemble competitions throughout the 1960s.
Before joining the Brigadiers, he served as percussion coordinator or caption head with Sunrisers, Connecticut Hurricanes and New York Skyliners. He was percussion caption head with Drum Corps International (DCI) Sky Riders of Hutchison, Kansas from 1983 to 1985, producing the corps’ best percussion section during his tenure. He was percussion instructor with Bayonne Bridgemen in 1986 and 1987.
He began playing snare drum with Greenwich Boys Club in 1960. He played tri-toms with Hawthorne Muchachos in 1976.
He was a percussion caption judge for both the Northeast Judging Association and the Yankee Judging Association from 1978 to 1980.
Bob Zazzara, of Elmira Heights, New York
Bob Zazzara’ contributions to the drum and bugle corps movement across western New York span six decades, beginning with the Holley Fire Department drum and bugle corps when he played snare drum in 1950 and soprano bugle in 1951. His activities eventually stretched across the Canadian border when he served as brass instructor of Scarborough Cardinals from 1980 to 1982.
He played soprano bugle with Brockport Grenadiers senior drum and bugle corps in 1952 and 1953 and Rochester Crusaders in 1961.
His career as an instructor began in 1957 when he was horn arranger and instructor with Salamanca Black Knights. At the same time, he was drum instructor for Hose Company Number 4 drum and bugle corps in Dunkirk. He was also the brass arranger and instructor from 1958 to 1960 while he carried out the same duties with the Black Knights.
During the 1960s, he arranged or taught the horn section for a number of corps: Mello Dears all girl junior drum and bugle corps of Owego, Rochester Crusaders, Wellsville Blue Devils, Dansville White Sabers, Owego Kickapoos, Apalachin Grenadiers, and Mark Twain Cadets of Elmira, serving as Cadets’ corps director at the same time. He returned as brass instructor for two of the corps in later years: the Crusaders in 2003 and 2004 and White Sabers from 2006 to 2009.
He has judged drum, music and color guard captions for more than 55 years for several organizations, including the Red Carpet Association, Drum Corps Associates, Drum Corps East, Drum Corps International and the Canadian Judges Association. He is a charter member of the New York Federation of Contest Judges, serving as the initial president in 1974, and also judged music for the NY-Penn Judges Association from 1958 to 1961 and the All American Drum Corps Association from 1959 to 1973. During American Legion rules congress sessions, he created the concept of content analysis in the pursuit of developing new judging systems for evaluating field music.
He earned a BS in Music Education from SUNY Fredonia, graduating in 1961. In 1966 he earned a Masters Degree in Vocal Music from Ithaca College, where he has been a lecturer since 1992. He has served as guest conductor for concert bands, jazz ensembles, instrumental and vocal concerts at about 200 locations across New York and Pennsylvania. He received the New York State Choral Conductors Association Award in 1997. While stationed in Germany from 1954 to 1957, he was first trumpet player in the concert, marching and jazz bands of the United States Army 2nd Armored Division Band and conducted the band chorus as the same time.
He has served as a marching band consultant and instructor many high schools in western New York.
The new members will be formally inducted during the Hall of Fame’s annual banquet, taking place in Rochester, New York on Friday, August 29. The induction ceremony is one of the events taking place during Drum Corps Associates (DCA) championship tournament over the three day Labor Day holiday weekend. Although the Hall of Fame induction is traditionally held on the same weekend as the DCA championships there is no formal connection between the two organizations.
This year also marks the 50th anniversary of DCA, which presented its first competition on June 6, 1964. The seven charter drum and bugle corps were Reading Buccaneers, Connecticut Hurricanes, Interstatesmen, Archer-Epler Musketeers, Pittsburgh Rockets, Yankee Rebels and New York Skyliners.
Since its founding in 1976 by the late Vince Bruni of Rochester, New York, membership in the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame has grown from six charter members to 472 regular and associate members from the United States and Canada, who have contributed to the activity around the world.
The World Drum Corps Hall of Fame is a non-profit organization honoring those individuals who have contributed significantly over many years to the development and continuing excellence drum and bugle corps activity. The organization also seeks to preserve the history of the drum and bugle corps movement in North America by selecting a noteworthy junior and all age (senior) corps of the decade.