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Let's kick off the holiday season with the Corps with the most festive colors: Santa Clara Vanguard.

What are your top 1-5 all time SCV shows?

(Optional) What are your 1-3 least favorites from them?

You can go into as much or little detail as you like but please please try to keep things positive.

For a quick recap in case you missed it and/or want to add your contributions:

Week 1- Cavies- 2006 the Machine is the favorite and 2012 15 min of fame is the least favorite.

Week 2- Jersey Surf- 2012 Bridgemania favorite

Week 3- Blue Knights-1994 Trittico for bras band favorite. least  2001Blue Toons

Week 4- Spirit of Atlanta- 1980 favorite

Week 5- Carolina Crown- Favorite: 2015 Inferno; Least Favorite: 2017 ...It is

Week 6- The Mandarins- 2017 inside the ink for favorite.

Week 7- Boston Crusaders- 2000 RED is the favorite.

Week 8- Pioneer- 1996 Celtic Twilight is the favorite.

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Santa Clara has done some amazing shows over the years, so this is tough. The top spot goes to the combination of Vanguard's portrayal of Phantom of the Opera. When the corps got permission to

I gotta go with 89. Their 04 show was special too!

Even with my recency bias of only really knowing shows from 2000 - present, this is still pretty tough.   In chronological order: 2001: New Era Metropolis is just such a Vanguard show.

Oof.  Now we get into another of the hard ones.

Favorites -

Phantom of the Opera (1989) - yes, it's cliché at this point, but it is *the* definitive SCV Broadway-type show.  I don't care that the corps didn't disappear completely, or a tenor managed to totally lose his stick in a live close up, or the weird phasing between brass and battery during Don Juan Triumphant.  SCV made this show an event much greater than the sum of its parts.  Based on DCI streaming statistics, video sales and online voting (remember the "Classic Countdown"?), everyone seems to agree on this.

Pathways (2003) - A lot of people were "meh" on this show at the time, but it is absolutely brilliant visual design, and genius musical writing.  If you ever get the chance to listen to the isolated battery score, the drums are actually playing complementary melodic lines to the brass.  Casella/Gusseck had many good years, but to me this is their best.  The driving ostinato from Orawa is both opener, closer and framing device, and works beautifully in giving the show an urgency to it from start to finish.

Ouroboros (2017) - I did not expect to have this on my "best ever" list, and if you just listen to the CDs it doesn't really do it for me, but paired with the visual it is incredible!  The whole show has a very restrained, effortless and smooth feel, like the corps was a coiled spring almost.  It's packed with "did you see that?" moments, as championship contenders need to be.  All in all, I still would have had them in first this year, and in many other years as well.

Honorable mention -

Inventions for a New Millenium (1999) - DA da da DA da da DA da DA da... oh yeah.  It did in fact turn out to predict the next decade of DCI.  And it was good.


A Walton Trilogy (1993) - Lee Rudnicki's chronicle of this summer notwithstanding, it just doesn't hold up as that good of a production.  The visual (especially the uniforms) was all over the place, and the music didn't have a whole lot of "there" there. 

Scheherezade ... Words 2 Live By (2014) - First off, it felt way too soon for a reboot.  Second, as reboots go, it was almost exactly the same show, just shifting much of the horn book to the pit.  I had read here once this was a backup-plan show after the initial plan fell through, but ... man, oh, man... no.  Just no.  Exhibit A on why corps should not bring back their own classics.

Not the Nutcracker (1995) - Every so often, SCV just puts on a show that leaves you questioning sanity. Yours and theirs.  This was just a huge swing and a miss, not the least of which was that they pretty much abandoned the "Not the" part halfway through.  The back half was *exactly* the Nutcracker.  They would have been better served just playing it straight.  Or going completely Tim Burton.  Or doing pretty much anything other than what they actually did. 


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1. 2015- The Spark of Invention- this is by far my favorite SCV show and one of my favorite DCI shows of all time. I know it wasn't their best from an execution standpoint but I just love the visual design and the music book. I even love the stupid little add ons like the theremin and the lights on their uniform. Great to watch and listen to and that soloist had magnificent tone in the ballad.

2. 1987- Russian Christmas Music and Pictures. A big, powerful, beautiful, fantastic show. Classic SCV

3. 1999- Inventions for a new millennium. Absolutely love this opener.  Good show start to finish

4. Scheherezade- words 2 live by- 2014- I didn't know a lot about SCV nor did I pay attention to them much when I was in highschool and college- and this show catapulted my view of SCV from being one of the greatest corps of the past to being one of my current favorites. I know it was way too early for a reboot but the trombones made all the difference in the world. I think this show should have gotten silver and I am a Bluecoats fan.

5. 1975- I love SCV in the early years of DCI.


1989- phantom of the Opera- One of the most classic DCI shows of all time. 

2016- Force of Nature- OMG is this show beautiful and clean. I think it was robbed of a medal.

2017-Oroboros- This year SCV REALLY had it together. Heck of a show for music and visuals- fantastic execution from a performance standpoint. I was hoping it would win gold but BD really had a nice production on 2017 too.

1988- Phantom of the Opera- this show is just as good as '89

2011- the devils' staircase- I really enjoy this show. The escape from hell, good music, good visual design...just a great show.

I really have to think about least favorites...a lot of SCV shows run together... perhaps I will make another post later.

Edited by ThePlanets
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Top 3, (in no particular order)
1984 (gotta show some love for a show that beat us WAS too many times!)

1988 (Sorry...I prefer the version of PoTO that SHOULD have won to the one that did)

1987 (come can you NOT love this one?)


HM....far too many to list.


Least 3 ( order)




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oh God. it's easier to pick out the least favorites.

and by all means thats 2010, 05 runner up



top 5 faves: Yikes









17 gets honorable mention but just isnt there yet. 15 and 16 here too. 2000 and 2001 too. 80 still doesnt get enough love. 89 great, liked 88 far better. 98 as well. christ anything not above in the top 5, and top 2 disliked it honorable mention

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Favorites: 1987, 1989, 1999, 2004, 2016, 2017.

Honorable Mentions: Too many to list. They've come out with SO many good shows, including a number of overlooked gems.

Least Favorites: 1995, 2008, 2010.

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Top 5 (all of them seen live, cuz I'm old that way)


Least Favorites...the Nutcracker show was a stretch, and the '92 show was a little sad (retro always sounds better in the planning than in the execution), but even still, I've never found them to have a total dog.


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5 hours ago, Jeff Ream said:

oh God. it's easier to pick out the least favorites.


Based on my early viewings of SCV that enthralled me (69-74,) I'd give kudos to their shows from the mid to late 80's, as well as so many of the mentions made here of much more recent shows. I always find something amazing, although subtle about their presentations (like how they always had a mm in motion around the field when they did the time-in-perpetuity show,) the subtle points of Devil's Staircase,  the Guard GE in Les Miz, and of course their great musical selections over the years particularly under Mr. Royer.

Although I very much enjoyed this past year's show, I hated what the corps wore, found some of the prop movements too sloppy for a SCV style of class, and definitely am not a fan of mic'd horns when the rest of the line is tacit.

All in all, I agree with Jeff Ream's comment and it's nuance of least favored, not necessarily disfavored.

For it's time, a classic and well ahead of it's time in many ways:


Edited by xandandl
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