It’s no surprise that Robert Smith is a musical phenom. After all, not many drum corps participants can trace their piano instruction “teaching tree” back generations, in a direct line of succession including the famous Nadia Boulanger (who mentored Copeland) and further, all the way to Frederic Chopin.
Starting in ’76 as a soprano player in the Charioteers, he moved on three years later to the up-and-coming Suncoast Sound, becoming their Drum Major, Program Coordinator, Brass Arranger, Caption Head, and eventual Director. In ’81 when they broke into DCI’s Associate Membership, his creative arrangement of “Lullaby of the Leaves” caught the ears of fans and his fellow arrangers alike. Robert’s charts were fresh, not derivative. He sounded like no one else, the perfect candidate to create “original” music for drum corps.
Shows that followed, like “Vietnam”, “Florida Suite”, and “Symphonic Dances for the Contemporary Child”, spawned a new genre of music for marching units and opened the door for many forward-looking arranger/composers, though few of them ever matched the quality of his output.
Over the years, corps like Spirit of Atlanta, Velvet Knights, Cadets, Magic of Orlando (which he founded), Glassmen, Music City, Madison Scouts, Empire Statesmen, and Troopers have all benefitted from his skills. Robert is a member of the DCI Hall of Fame (2010), teaches in the Music Industry Program at Troy University, has composed 3 symphonies, and has had his music performed by the US Navy and Air Force Bands, the Boston Pops, and the Atlanta Symphony.
Somewhere, Chopin is smiling. He may even be a bit envious.