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Open Class Prelims

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Open Class Prelims is my favorite show of the year. For most of the corps, this is my first viewing. For those I have seen before, it has been several weeks and they are much improved. I enjoyed all the programs presented and was impressed by the quality of all the corps this year. While it is a shame that there are so few corps left, the ones that were there put on a great show. My focus was taking pictures, but I did take some notes so that I can provide some impressions of each group.

Racine Scouts - The corps presented their 2013 production "From the Ashes" featuring Firebird Suite. The challenging music was enjoyable to hear. At one point the brass took up rifles to supplement the small guard. The show has come a long way in just the few weeks since my first viewing in Minneapolis. Well done and congratulations on making the top 12.

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Blue Saints - This small corps always finds a way to entertain. The 2013 production "A Canadian Journey" provides a celebratory feel as the corps makes use of picture frames to highlight the guard and musicians. I was impressed by the big sound the 10 person brass line could acheive. The small guard contributed visually beyond their numbers through well staged work and picture frames. At one point the battery adds visually through some nice flag work. Nice work by the trumpet and baritone soloists at the beginning of the show.

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Les Stentors - The corps is celebrating their 25th season and paying tribute to songs from past shows. Puzzle pieces announce the year for each of the songs and then are placed in a frame at the back. The show ends with the puzzle turned around to reveal a big 25. The highlight for me was the bass drum feature where the guard was tossing rifles all over the place. I think the percussion judge was taken by surprise as a rifle went sailing over his head.

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Taipei Yuehfu - Competing in the International Division, Taipei Yuehfu presented their 2013 production "The Butterfly Lovers" which is a Chinese legend of a tragic love story of a pair of lovers. It is often regarded as the Chinese version of Romeo and Juliet. After the man dies, the woman throws herself into the grave. Their spirits are reborn as butterflies. Beautiful guard costumes and a great visual presentation all around.

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Colt Cadets - The Red theme certain fit the corps well. The opener from Carmen included a string bass prop. The young trumpet soloist really got the crowd excited as he leaned back and hit his high note. The pit had a lot of fun and the young synth player displayed a confident presence not often found even in World Class.

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Raiders - The Edgar Allan Poe poem The Raven formed the basis for their 2013 production "The Raven: A Descent Into Madness!" The reading of the poem continues throughout the production adding to the dramatic effect of the original music. The show has come a long way in the month since my last viewing. This show was packed with emotion. Loved the guard work.

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Legends - The corps presented the story of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow in their show entitled "Icabod." Recorded narration at the beginning helps set the stage and explain the production. Beautiful guard costumes, well staged show, and a wide range of emotions made for an enjoyable show. Following their successful 2012 (The Edmund Fitzgerald) show, the classic American storytelling genre really suits the corps well.

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Gold - I saw Gold early in the season and very much enjoyed the show then. I was really looking forward to seeing the integration of the members from China and the improvements in the program. I was not disappointed - in fact this exceeded my expectations. Aided by a quality guard, the Chinese acrobats really brought home the East Meets West theme. Major goose bumps at several points in the show. High energy. Tons of fun. The original music by Scott Director very enjoyable and really enhanced the visual presentation.

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7th Regiment - the show Luminous starts on Side 1 and moves across the field, moving from night to day. The corps makes full use of the field. Great equipment work, especially the rifles and the ensemble flag work at the end when the yellow flags make a big statement. The show starts and ends with pointing skyward where we find the lights. Very enjoyable show.

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Spartans - Always a favorite of mine, the 2013 show "Live Free" begins with chains and the guard partially covered in black over their face and various parts of their costume. Over the course of the show, the chains are gone and the black disappears. The reprise of Swan Lake at the end has a hopeful feel and left me feeling happy about the show. The show also included music from The Matrix and a piece by Philip Glass entitled Naqoyqatsi,

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Music City - My second viewing of this show found them to have made a lot of progress in performance quality and attention to detail. The corps brings a big sound and their "Postcards from Havana" show provides opportunity for a lot of individual expression (which I love). I found the guard to be very exciting and took note that this was the most expressive pit thus far in the show - I love an expressive pit, especially when I'm seated in the center, row 2.

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Genesis - The 2013 production "mOZaic" makes heavy use of music from various Wizard of Oz shows, along with other songs by Pink Floyd, The Doors, Dead Mau5, and Skrillex. Despite the other music, this is a great Wizard of Oz show - complete with Tin Man and Flying Monkey visual references. Musically and visually intense, this corps belongs in the Top 3 of Open Class. The show was very well designed, featuring some big emotional moments, including a nice company front,

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Vanguard Cadets - I saw this show early in the season and thought it had championship potential. "The Art of War" includes a Key Poulan original for the opener and closes with Hut of Baba Yaga from Pictures at an Exhibition. From the time they take the field, there is a sense of purpose. Early season they were on at the beginning of the shows, so it was nice to see them under the lights. At one point the whole guard (35 or so I think) was on rifles which was a great effect. Toward the end they do a huge company front stretching between the 10s.

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Blue Devils B - I saw this show several times in June. It is nothing like what I remembered. They have added so much visually from the drum heads, to several large arches, to tarps on the field, to uniform changes. I though the battery and pit were both excellent. I loved the soloist who gets "trapped" in a square created by the arches. He tries to bust out and then finally realizes he need to open the door and just steps out.

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Great Review and some beautiful picture one could not ask for more ,hopefully DCI will relize what they have here in open class and give them there due .But for now it is what it is ,

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Such good photos from you, as ever. Thanks for posting this! (And much faster in appearing than my review of Avon Lake.)

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Great photos!! Love your review notes as well. Thank you!!

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Great pictures! Thanks for the review. It is much appreciated by those who follow the Open class corps!

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