Just in case at camp this weekend the members are given any info or music for next summer, this may be my last chance to post while completely in the dark about the 2018 show. And no - don't even ask me for inside knowledge after this weekend. You'd think after all these years that you'd realize I'm not going to divulge info until the Cadets make it public!
So that said, these are some of my hopes for next summer's show:
summer of 2018 is the last opportunity for a WWI 100 year memorial show, though it doesn't look like any corps have been interested. No chance?
I would love for a show ending with Ravel's "Le jardin féerique" from Ma mère l'Oye. For that matter, I'd love to hear his La Valse on the field finally - maybe in a show about a crazy person (and then they could use his Berceuse sur le nom de Gabriel Fauré as the ballad). Or maybe go old school with a collection of Alborada del Gracioso, Rhapsodie Espagnole and Vocalise-étude en forme de habanera. And of course, all of those works are public domain, so no Tresóna bills, or people looking over your shoulder if you have to change your arrangements.
More meat in the Brass book, whatever they are playing. Brass should carry the show, not be backup. Get them down front more often in the drill. But don't interpolate Arban exercises just for the sake of demonstrating technical prowess - trust the original music which you chose BECAUSE it was so good to begin with. Never forget that it's the music that drives the emotional connection to the audience, and it's what they come for.
Lose the 4 singers. The idea for a choir was justified last year given the source material, and in some sections was wonderful ("Almighty Father"). But as the season went along, the musical focus shifted more and more onto the singers than the brass, which did not better the show. If we want to hear a Broadway musical we will go to NYC, thank you very much.
Lose all electronics for that matter. Yeah, I know it won't happen, but a guy can dream, can't he? I seriously believe that the amplification of anything lessens the overall acoustic product appreciated by our ears. #DCIUnplugged
Bigger drill forms, and less scatter. The focus on small pods tends to look sloppy and is under-whelming to the audience.
No concept is one thing, and would be ok. But if you have a concept or a story, it better be well thought-out and planned from day one, with a recognizable arc from beginning to end. Don't wing-it when it comes to visual moments, or fail to know the exact motivation or visual image you're trying to evoke from the members. in other words, if it's in the show design, there needs to be a reason for it being there, and the members have to know that reason so they can convey it. And then, of course, if it's still not clear to the audience, adjust it until it is.
No overcrowding the field with props and gimmicks. They're musicians, not moving men. [I still feel sorry for some of the brass members at Santa Clara who seemed to spend the majority of the show pushing around those circular props] And if you do use any, make sure they are professionally designed and manufactured. Cf. the detailing of Crown's Helen Hess stagecoach with Cadet's statuary platforms (i.e. the wedding cakes). It's the same lessons you teach to the members: if you're going to do it, you cannot settle for less than your best effort.
I'm not even sure what to wish for in uniforms. Every year DCI seems to go further and further down a path of over-design that only marginally ties to the show in any meaningful way outside of the minds of the designer/salesman. It's not that I want a return to the old wool coats. After all - why are Napoleonic hussar coats and shakos any more an ideal uniform for marching musicians in the 21st century than what the Troopers wear? or what the crew of the Enterprise wear, for that matter? I just think that there is a lot of crap being foisted onto the corps these days [my eyes still bleed over 2013 Oregon Crusaders], and I believe they need to rethink what image they want to project, and what an appropriate UNIFORM would be.
But most importantly, I hope for the same thing that everyone wants from every show every year: that it makes me jump to my feet applauding and shouting for joy.
Time for you to thrill us, Cadets.