David Hill

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About David Hill

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    DCP Veteran
  • Birthday 05/29/1954

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  • Your Favorite Drum Corps Season
    The next Drum Corps Season
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    Birmingham, AL

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  1. Sixty-five years after its radio premiere on CBS -- which was 13 years after the original charter of The Holy Name Cadets -- today's launch of the online book, "Story Of The Cadets" recreates "You Are There," by blending history with modern technology, taking an entire organization on a historical time warp, and reporting the great events of the past. In reading, seeing, and hearing -- through audio clips of interviews, music, and story-telling -- of the organization's founding, its history, and its present, "Story of the Cadets" becomes a "you are there" way to relive the storied, multi-champion's trip through time. It is available at theholynamecadets.net, beginning tomorrow. Co-authors Greg Cinzio and Dave Shaw had the organization's archives unlocked for us all. Using written and oral histories, photography, audio and video recordings (there are no performance videos), the "maroon world" of The Cadets comes to life as a "live" documentary, both written and enhanced with interactive media. In doing so, it also becomes the most compelling experience and education in drum corps' history. The timeline of any organization takes its share of twists, turns, shake-ups, and change. In this unvarnished look at the Cadets' trajectory from parish program to independent organization -- replete with its highs and lows -- the reader "is there" to see how, and why, this unit evolved from a community-based effort to its current status as a leader in the marching arts. From "In the Very Beginning" to "The War Years," "The Separation from the Church," through "The Early DCI Years," the first half of the story, and the book, provides a comprehensive, and illustrative, outline of the business -- and heart -- of the organization. Early practices remain today, providing guideposts even in the twenty-first century. For me, this is the strongest half of the book. Certainly for those of us whose history with either The Cadets, indeed with the drum and bugle corps activity, only reaches as far back as the development of Drum Corps International, if not the early 1960s, the question "Why doesn't the activity return to its roots?" is answered. The second half of the book becomes a primer in competition, offering "Transition back into National Prominence," "DCI Trendsetters," "The Modern Era Cadets," and "The New Millennium." Designers talk process, teachers emphasize motivation, directors explain scoring and placement, and all along, in every era, performers exude pride and appreciation in the experience;" in being "a Cadet." The last three years of competition, a fascinating triad of 75th anniversary, toy soldiers, and the tenth championship seasons, complete the "book." Appendices provide bullet-point timelines of directors and corps officers, milestones, and repertoires. But for the primary audience for the book, alumni, the first appendix, "The Cadet Experience" will resonate the most. "The Story of the Cadets" should resonate with anyone who lives, and who values, the drum corps experience. For in its "You Are There" presentation, each of us can relive the 77 year history of the corps and the organization. Indeed, we can all share in the feeling of the corps hymn: "For Holy Name shall always be …." This is the season opener before the season opener! Experience it, beginning tomorrow, at theholynamecadets.net David G. Hill (Full Disclosure: A review I wrote of the 75th anniversary production is included in the book.)
  2. Again this year, there are 8 color guards on the Field VERSUS Floor "Best of" list ... that begins its rollout today.
  3. It was the greatest night of drum corps ever! Never in the history of ... First night of the season ... last year's top eight units. And in movie theaters for everyone to see. What could go wrong with this perfect marketing opportunity for Marching Music's Major League? "Just imagine you are in hell. This is about several ways to get out." The usually genial, and upbeat Jeff Fiedler (Santa Clara Vanguard) went all sarcastic and snarky in positioning both his corps' performance and the entire Tournament of Champions endeavor. Let's get this out of the way. It was Texas Toast dry-hot and winds were whipping about at such speeds (Where's a meteorologist when you need one?) that: -- Many guards opted out of aerial tosses partially or altogether, -- Flags often wrapped performers like shrouds. NOTE TO PRODUCERS: camera close-ups of any guard other than the Blue Devils cause raucous laughter in movie theatres, -- The Cadets wore no headgear (Who knew that Shakos were potentially fatal?), -- Amplified sounds warbled around in the swirling air, -- The Blue Devils' PVC houses and (are they?)trees looked like they might take flight ... and ... -- This was just the second night of the season dagnabbit so don't expect too much from the best of the best (Did they really mean that?)! For months now, the cabal known for wanting to overthrow drum corps' government -- Khadafi is available, if you can find him -- has touted, teased, and taunted that its now-five-night tour will be the best thing since ... electronics, B-flat tuning, assymetrical drill, bolting the strict regimen of the VFW (take your pick). Just not yet, not this early, not for everyone's eyes, and certainly, not to get you excited about the possibility of it all, either. Mr. Fiedler again: "I don't want to give away too many secrets ...." Secrets? That all eight corps will perform en masse: fans love to hear banks of brass! What's the secret here? Buzz kill is what it was. Honestly. Oh well, by the time I see boastful brigade in its August finale, word (and music) will have slipped out. But to the Vanguard show and performance: I loved that Mr. Fiedler reminded viewers that Santa Clara has, over its history, introduced lots of new music to the idiom. This year is no exception; three of its four pieces in "The Devil's Staircase" have not been performed in this brass and percusssion medium. More familiar Samuel Barber was enhanced by works of Avner Dorman and Gyorgy Ligeti effectively. The how-do-I-get-out-of-here "plot," in all its familiarity, was made interestingly new as dense, closed, and constricting early visuals expanded to more spacial, open configurations, making way for the show-ending dual escape. How did the other seven corps capitalize on this perfect marketing opportunity? Rewinding the tape: When did you last see the BLUE DEVILS perform first? (Could announcers, and Hall of Fame members both, Steve Rondinaro and Dennis DeLucia acted more stricken?) It was swell, really. The daylight fit the mood of the sunny Burt Bachrach tuned show. And is this show chocked full of tunes. "A House Is Not A Home" was a warm, melodious welcome mat of an opening. It also punctuated the clever visual ending, which will undoubtedly have changes throughout the season. The 60s playlist only lacked one thing: Dionne Warwick's voice. Intricate in both musical and visual design, the Devils always belie common perception. Percussion and brass wove in and out of songs, just as the performers and color guard careened around and constructed with the eye-popping white PVC props. This show will be an eight-week "build-to-championships" for sure. Here's my single, solitary beef with the Cavaliers: You have used the same format for the last 45 seconds of your show for almost a decade! Please shuffle your iPod. From the sound of your standing-arc ending, along with the over-long discussion/rationalization of 250 pages of drill to be learned, it will be the same this year. Not that it won't work. "XtraordinarY" is pretty darned cool! What other units attempt to do with props, the Green Machine does with its members. The Cirque de Soleil "touch" was a great surprise and delight, and the upside-down tenors -- well, they have already gone viral! Is there nothing that visual designer Michael Gaines -- long overdue for his year's Hall of Fame induction -- can't bring to life? His artistry is such a perfect match for the fraternity of The Cavaliers, it is uncanny: subtlety and bombast burst forth in equal measure, and in harmony, with the show theme every year! With the strength and power of both brass and percussion, and what may the year's most unusual color guard -- stilts? Super! -- there's some heavy "medal" angling going on right up in here. So you won't forget: The Bluecoats are presenting art. That, from soon-to-be legendary designer Michael Gray, who reminded us of the fact when asked if the corps is feeling additional pressure this season, after winning its first medal last year. Blank canvas. Endless possibilities. Creepy, really. So the Radiohead song "Creep" was the by-default song-of-the-year in Winter Guard International this season, but amped up via brass and percussion, it makes for a terrific opening to "Brave New World." ("What the hell am I doing?" voiceover notwithstanding.) Mr. Gray and the rest of the creative team at Bluecoats have developed a crisp template from which the corps presents its into-the-future shows that incorporate sampled electronic sound into the precision of classic drum corps. It is a fresh take, and a highly competitive approach. Of all the very likeable moments in Carolina Crown's "Rach Star," my favorite, oddly for the non-percussion guy I am, is "Paint it Black." I think that's partially because the show needs some more black. Literally. Black leather, black flags, rock concert black. Black lights! That's it ... by season's end, bring in some black lights! So nice to see Crown ratchet back the nuance, dig into the music, and stage a concert that everyone is gonna dig. The corps is kinda king of the music-morph, and the head-bobbing delight of Queen-to-Rachmaninoff is kinda the bomb! Add in that Box 5 color guard (even in the wind), and here's a show that needs neither greener pastures nor a second chance to RACH/ROCK the drum corps world. Straight from George Hopkins: the Cadets are as ready this season as they were in 1983! And that, for both long-time and new viewers, was a very very good year for the corps. Just like 1983, "Between Angels and Demons" showcases what the corps does best, when it is at its best: aggressive marching and playing at dizzying speeds, only to be interrupted by a gorgeous ballad. This one packs some more emotional wallop! But Mr. Hopkins is focused on beats-per-minute as general effect. Are BPM on the judging sheets? Or is his notion that speed should equal numbers an effect of his own making? Granted, I grab my chest for air when The Cadets whiplash through a drill set. My heart races at the same BPM as does the corps, I think. This year is no exception, and grabbing that mantle out of the gate is some more accomplishment, particularly when it comes with the terrific color delineation of the drill writing. Just wow! This year, though, I'll take the ballad home with me (as I did two years ago with "A Boy Like That/I Have a Love" from the anniversary show). Just may become the best two minutes in drum corps this season. Phantom Regiment's "Juliet" is an unexpected, but lush, recitation of the Shakespearean tale, as musically "told" and visually "dramatized" from the view of Miss Capulet (the very beautiful women of the color guard.) Nice to see an all-female guard again. It is also more than a bit revival in its feel; what with charts from the ages -- "Elsa's Procession" be still our drum corps hearts, marching drill as opposed to choreographic visuals, even a splendid nod to a 70's version of the guard -- down the 50 -- in the famous "Rockford File." Here's the revival I felt: pulsing drive, desire, and despair from the echoing horns and thunderous percussion. Now that is the kind of stamp any Regiment show can use. In the final spot, the Blue Stars continue to defy definition and convention, with the riveting, action-adventure "Rebourne." Trying to capture the mood, the textures, and the feel of the Jason Bourne movie trilogy, the Stars appropriated music from that movie franchise, and from "The Matrix" movies, to mount an elevated, 11-minute chase. This kind of bold programming demands a bold presence; Blue's brass is stellar in cranking up the volume, and drama. Its color guard, always an asset to the corps' storytelling, provides the sweep and "characters" needed to flesh out the plot. From the scaffolding to the velocity, this 3D tale will expand over time, leaving audiences, by season's end, likely clamoring for a sequel. To a clamor of sequels: do this again! It was a perfect marketing opportunity, and if the crowd in the theater I was in is any barometer of interest -- my eyes said there were as many fans as there are for the mid-August Quarterfinals -- then this curtain raiser is worth the effort. __________________________________________________________________________________ MY 35-YEAR AFFAIR WITH DCI (from 2007)
  4. David Hill

    New year, New theme

    IN A SIMILAR VEIN: It was payback time, apparently; time to settle the score, level the playing field: designer vs. the Internet. Expressing frustration that audience members and ... watchers did not let the work proceed at its own pace or free from criticism, constructive or otherwise: "Twitter and Facebook and blogging just trump you. It's very hard to create. It's incredibly difficult to be under a shot glass and a microscope like that." "When you're trying to create new work, and you're trying to break new ground and experiment, which seems an incredibly crazy thing to do in (this) environment, the immediate answers that audiences give are never going to be good." "It's just in the nature of things that when you're doing something very new, audiences don't know how necessarily to talk about it immediately. Which in my world, and in your world, is a good thing. You want people to absorb, they should be entertained, they should have a great time, but they should also be stimulated enough that when they go home or talk to their kids, they are actually digesting, thinking, talking about it." George Hopkins? David Gibbs, perhaps? Certainly no one from the mute Carolina Crown camp. Madison? Would anyone from Madison take on the "Internets"? Nope. It was none of them. But it might have been, yes? Here's who slammed criticism of their now-thwarted creative process.
  5. David Hill

    wgi mission statement

    A detailed process, that can lead to outstanding outcomes. If they do. Here is my distillation of some very good thinking on the subject.
  6. David Hill

    Field and Floor FX

    But it's not Field&Floor... and vice versa. This company is not affiliated with Field&Floor, the blog ... well, save for grabbing the name.
  7. David Hill

    2010 Color Guard season in review

    2011 is now in the rear-view mirror, too. Some great stories from the season, "bracketed" here.
  8. David Hill

    The years ahead:

    ... The "floor" folks are taking steps in what feels like a very right direction.
  9. Appropriating the "Guiding Principles and Values" of the federal government's Fiscal Commission co-chairs report for both field and floor: We have a patriotic duty to come together on a plan that will make "field and floor" better off tomorrow than it is today. -- Neither drum corps nor color guard can be great if we go broke. Our activities will not grow -- indeed, their future is in jeopardy -- without a plan to move through the changing national economy. -- Throughout American history, sacrifices have been made to make our nation stronger over the long haul. That's the same promise towards which we should work: to give our children and grandchildren the same marching pageantry experiences we have enjoyed. -- American families, school systems, and individuals have spent the past two years making tough choices in their own lives. They expect us to do the same. Pageantry folk are counting on us to put politics aside, pull together not pull apart, and agree on a plan to live within our means and make field and floor strong for the long haul. Only thing: I wonder why it's the leadership that has to be convinced of this, not the fans, not the organizations, and certainly not the young people who want to participate? New York Times columnist David Brooks looked ahead at a post-election crossroads America. Interestingly, his description of how the country got here has as much applicability, if not more, to the pageantry world as it does to politics. "Howard Gardner of Harvard once put together a composite picture of the extraordinarily creative person: She comes from a little place somewhat removed from the center of power and influence. As an adolescent, she feels herself outgrowing her own small circle. She moves to a metropolis and finds a group of people who share her passions and interests. She gets involved with a team to create something amazing. "Then, at some point, she finds her own problem, which is related to and yet different from the problems that concern others in her group. She breaks off and struggles and finally emerges with some new thing. She brings it back to her circle. It is tested, refined and improved. "The main point in this composite story is that creativity is not a solitary process. It happens within networks. It happens when talented people get together, when idea systems and mentalities merge." "She" is any of the thousands of creatives who have led marching pageantry as we know it, over the decades, to its evolved state. The state is not immune, however, to the same downturns and challenges that face each of us every day, in life. However, to hear much of the leadership talk, marching pageantry remains in some sort of "bubble", immune to anything but their whim. First the downest side of the dichotomy: drum corps. Add it up (down): fewer units, with fewer participants (overall), shorter season, smaller crowds, and decreased revenues. Yet the oral argument for economic sustainability is to give the top performing units -- as chosen by self-appointed judges -- a larger piece of the diminuitive financial pie. Even Mr. Beck and his blackboard would have trouble mapping this one for emotional effect. For whatever it's worth, I'm crying his alligator tears. All the while, self-appointed new expenses are voted in; each one chewing away at diminishing bottom lines, all in the name of idiomatic "relevance". Pssst: larger chunks of fewer ticket sales won't make up the financial difference for eight units, or four, or two, or even one. The floor folks are taking steps in what feels like a very right direction. Knowing that school system budgets are slashing -- particularly -- arts programs with little thought to their relevance, super regionals will bring the championship experience close to you. (And when this darned economy even levels off, we hope you'll be able to join us in Dayton for the Big Dance again.) "Spinfest", the high-end how-to event that has been held as an after-championship digestif, is going straight to the people, at several locations across the country. Unit erosion recognized, the spidering, and long-term effects are being addressed. As for the effects within units, it was clear last year how they manifested: music from the public domain, fewer pieces of equipment, more straight-forward programming (read: purer examples of classic color guard), and in the gutsiest, medal-winning move of the season: no plastic tarp under foot. Funny, the power of performance. HD-ification of the arts Following the lead of Drum Corps International -- could it be?: "Opera houses, ballet companies, even the National Theater in London, are competing to lure audiences to live high-definition broadcasts in movie theaters, many of which are then shown again." Been there (for years), doing that. The brillant Fan Network system also brings cable-style programming to both field and floor (and bands, too!) It's such a triumphant tri-fecta, its' use and impact on access will surely, and should, be broadened. Why not a preview show of the year's "coming attractions," as an all-in, crash the servers, offering? For color guard, a "Project Runway"-formatted costume competition among the advertisers. For drum corps, individual and ensemble competition. The uses are endless, the staff is in place, the gains: priceless. ALTHOUGH ... as something of a "wonder if, how, and when for us", this: "While the HD phenomenon has brought performances to millions of people who would not otherwise see them, it also raises major questions. How will it reshape the way shows are cast, directed and designed? Will the photogenic gain the upper hand? Will musicians start acting for the camera? Will stage direction be shaped for close-ups instead of for the view from the balcony? What effect will it have on attendance at local orchestras, theater companies and operas? In a cultural world in which even the use of a microphone creates shock waves, how will the new onslaught of electronic sound change people's aesthetic expectations?" Are you "nostalgic" for ... ... the activity, either field or floor, as you first found it? Fell in love with it? Recount it to friends and family? Many advertisers are too: Brut, Cotton Inc., General Mills, McDonald's, Pepsi-Cola, and Mr. Peanut are banking on what is being called a "new retro", reviving "classic ad mascots, slogans and jingles to appeal to present-day shoppers." Research company Mintel International Group lists new retro "among a dozen trends that will shape the marketing of consumer packaged goods in 2011." "But nostalgia is not what it used to be, particularly when it comes to younger consumers, so the goal is to be perceived not as old-fashioned — fusty and out of date — but rather as old-school — from an earlier era and worthy of respect." The new animated, talking, Mr. Peanut is being taken "back to his roots," complete with turn-of-the-19th-century duds. Along with "new retro" as an upcoming marketing trend, is "Professionalisation of the Amateur". Think of field and floor as ... give me a minute ... ummm ... here it is: "Marching Music's Major League" for example, or "Sport of the Arts". It's everything that defines marching pageantry, and it's available to exploit right now! I read the online "chatter", and it's clear that among this sub-group of fans and followers -- these top-of-the-line consumers and patriots for the causes -- is ready to come together on a plan that will make "field and floor" better off tomorrow than it is today. Dig in, leadership! Your followers have deeper roots than you might think. The future is at stake. Genuinely. For me: I want the activities to outlive my digital archives. (With thanks to Mr. Hrothgar15 for his on-point comment.)
  10. David Hill

    Closers Only

    " " by Rufus Wainwright ... as interpreted by the Boston Crusaders.My fervent wish.
  11. I like it old, I like it new ... but I really do like ... and honor ... and respect the "relevancy" of drum and bugle corps. And I had it brought directly to heart just yesterday.
  12. Here for the parsing are Field&Floor's personal bests from 2010: in the annual mash-up, drum corps V color guard
  13. Here for the parsing are Field&Floor's personal bests from 2010: in the annual mash-up, drum corps V color guard
  14. David Hill

    Mark Petrash

    This is a bigger issue than many folks want to admit; here is how I weighed in after other such incidents in marching pageantry.
  15. David Hill

    The OFFICIAL Pro-G7 Thread

    GIVE US THE CHANCE ... to come through? If it's good enough for the ballet, surely it might help ... drum corps? Curious, and essential reading, to consider with the topic at hand. (With links)