Inside the Arc – Who Needs a Hall of Fame?

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One could be forgiven for thinking the whole thing is getting out of hand.  There seems to be no limit to the proliferation: The Beekeepers Hall of Fame, Whack-a-Mole Hall of Fame, Hot Dog Eaters Hall of Fame…Trust me. These actually exist.

But do we need them in drum corps? Really?

We’ve got a “World” one, an “International” one, a Hall of Fame for Buglers, and (it seems) regional halls for every state in the union. What’s the point?

Nor is there any lack of legitimate criticism for the establishment of such entities. After all, aren’t they simply self-indulgent creations by and for Narcissists and Egomaniacs, complete with ceremonial rituals and secret handshakes? Does anybody who isn’t an exalted member actually give a bottle of valve oil about them? Why don’t these people get a life?

Shouldn’t we just get rid of them, or better still, simply ignore them all?

Well, maybe.

If you start a club just to heap honors on yourselves, I’ve got no time for you. You’re just a bunch of self-absorbed boobies, toasting each other and wearing the Emperor’s New Clothes. You guys don’t rate a footnote.

But…if the idea is to recognize real achievements that advance the art, the game or the general good, or inspire others to do so, maybe there’s actually a point, and a valid raison d’etre.

So it is that drum corps will honor Billy Cobham, who began as a bass drummer with the St. Clement the Pope parade corps, moved on to the Queensmen, Sunrisers, and thence “marched” with the likes of Miles Davis, Mahavishnu John McLaughlin and Deodato; or T.J. Doucette, her father a Hall of Famer from the legendary Lt. Norman Prince corps, who herself has amassed more DCI color guard championships than almost anyone in the history of the activity.

Then there’s Cmdr. Christopher Ferguson, USN, Ret., whose early training in the Philadelphia PAL corps prepared him for the Naval Academy, and ultimately for the command of NASA’s Space Shuttle.

Cmdr Christopher Ferguson

Achievement?  Inspiration?  No argument there. But achievement comes in many varieties and inspiration is where you find it. I’ve started my own personal Hall of Fame, and here are a few of its inductees:

  1. Dr. Janice Vucinich – She was a lead soprano in the Vianney Knights, a small parade corps on Long Island during the ‘70s.  Today she’s a top radiologist in Florida who cures tumors and saves people’s lives on a daily basis.
  2. Dennis Aquilina –He was “drafted” from the Skyliners as a teen to become a soloist with the Garfield Cadets, instructor with the Bridgemen and SCV, and his Middle School students have recently performed at both The House of Blues and Carnegie Hall. He’s also the Band Director at San Francisco State University.
  3. Marianne Gambelli – She marched with the Westchester Horizons, then Garfield’s rifle section, and was part of that memorable 80-person horn line when she and the rest of the guard played in the ’77 finale. After several years as Chief Investment Officer for NBC-TV (“The Voice”, “Sunday Night Football”…etc.), Marianne has just been named President of Advertising Sales at Fox Network.

These folks have had an impact on their world, and if you ask them they will attribute their own inspiration and drive to their drum corps experiences.

Nor are Janice, Marianne and Dennis alone, by any means. They’ve got lots of company, what with the 100-year or so history of drum corps. They probably don’t consider themselves special, but we know they are. There should be a Hall of Fame for them, and now there is.

It’s not in Cleveland, Canton, Cooperstown or Toronto. It’s in our hearts.



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 Thursday, July 6th, 2017. Filed under FrontPage Feature, Inside the Arc.