Hall of Fame selects Bucs and Blue Devils for second time as corps of the decade

Posted on August 14th, 2021 by Gail Langan

The World Drum Corps Hall of Fame has named Reading Buccaneers and Blue Devils as corps of the decade 2010 to 2019.  Both organizations have previously been honored: Blue Devils as junior corps of the decade 1980 to 1989 and Buccaneers as all-age (previously senior) corps of the decade 2000 to 2009.

The Buccaneers of Reading, Pennsylvania, won the Drum Corps Associates (DCA) championship nine times in the past decade, including eight years in a row from 2012 to 2019.   The Blue Devils of Concord, California were Drum Corps International (DCI) chsmpions six times in the decade.

Blue Devils have expanded operations far beyond the drum and bugle contest field since 1957 when the Concord Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) branch founded Blue Devils Performing Arts (BDPA) after acquiring the Martinettes, a local all boy drum section and all girl drill team.  The group’s new name referred to the color blue associated with the VFW and local landmark Mount Diablo.  With fewer than 50 members, the Blue Devils began as an all boy drum line and separate all girl marching team. 

In 1958, the Blue Devils became a drum and bell corps by adding glockenspiels to the percussion line.  A color guard was added in 1961.  The drum and bell corps, including boys and girls, dominated in that era as well, going undefeated in the California state championships for 13 years.  The Blue Devils became a drum and bugle corps in 1970, adding 10 brass players to the drum and bell unit.  The corps first toured nationally in 1973.  Blue Devils swept all categories to win their first DCI title in 1976, never finishing out of the top five since then.

The organization now includes Blue Devils Music School with students as young as four; the Diablo Wind Symphony serving students ages 14 to 18; an On-Stage series of theatre productions; performances and clinics with world-renowned artists; BD Entertainment, offering site-specific entertainment for corporate events, trade shows and special events including live television performances.

Buccaneers are DCA charter members, winning the inaugural championship title in 1965.  Since then the Bucs have become the most decorated corps in DCA history, winning 17 titles, finishing second nine times and third seven times.  The Buccaneers were DCA champions on their 50th anniversary in 2007 and 60th anniversary in 2017 and were the final corps to win the VFW national title in 1962, after which the award was retired.

The Reading Buccaneers originated in 1957 as a parade corps including former members of local junior corps and veterans of both World War II and the Korean War.  For the first appearance corps members wore borrowed trousers and played instruments purchased with borrowed money.  The ship’s wheel featured in the corps logo reflects the Bucs initial nautical theme.

The leap from parade corps to the competition field came May 30, 1958 when the Buccaneers performed at the Preview of Champions in Jersey City to fill in for a corps that had cancelled on short notice.

Field contests in the VFW circuit began the same year, with the Bucs taking the title three years in a row: 1960, 1961 and 1962.

Junior and all age corps selected by the Hall of Fame for earlier decades are: 1940 to 1949: Holy Name Cadets and Lt. Norman Prince; 1950 to 1959: St. Vincent’s Cadets and Reilly Raiders; 1960 to 1969: Chicago Cavaliers and Hawthorne Caballeros; 1970 to 1979: Santa Clara Vanguard and Hawthorne Caballeros; 1980 to 1989: Blue Devils and Sunrisers; 1990 to 1999: Cadets of Bergen County and Empire Statesmen; 2000 to 2009: Cavaliers of Rosemont and Reading Buccaneers.

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Joseph T. Capone passed away at the age of 98 on June 16, 2021

Posted on July 28th, 2021 by Gail Langan

Joseph T. Capone passed away at the age of 98 on June 16, 2021, in Pittsburgh, PA. Interment with military honors took place on June 25th.

Joe was one of the founding organizers of the Pittsburgh Rockets Drum and Bugle Corps, serving as the units’ business manager for 27 years. He was inducted into the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame in 1980. He was the last of the original seven corps directors who voted to form Drum Corps Associates in 1963. Joe stayed active in the WDCHF for many years serving as the historian and chaplain, honoring the deceased members.

He was the second of four generations in his family that marched in drum corps. His father (Florindo) marched in a post-WWI drum corps affiliated with the local American Legion; it was his vision that created the Rockets in 1947.  Joe, along with his brothers Carmen and Valentino were long-time members of the Rockets with Val joining him as a member of the WDCHF in 1985. The third generation included Joe’s sons, Jim, Thom and Joe marching with the Rockets and Thom with Steel City Ambassadors. Thom’s sons Leo and Tony round out the 4th generation with Tony (Cadets2 and the Cadets), and Leo (Cadets2, Bluecoats and currently the “Commandants Own” Marine Drum & Bugle Corps). 

During World War II, Joe served with the 104th “Timberwolf” Infantry Division, 415th Regiment, Company E, in the European Theatre of Operations as a rifleman scout. During his tour of duty, he participated in four major campaigns in Northern France, the Netherlands, Ardennes, and Rhineland. He was subsequently awarded the Bronze Star (with cluster), Purple Heart (2 clusters) Combat Infantryman Badge, Presidential Unit Citation (with cluster), and Good Conduct Medal. In 2009, he was awarded the French Legion of Honor at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Pittsburgh.

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Two President’s Choice inductees have made major contributions apart from marching with an individual drum and bugle corps

Posted on July 22nd, 2021 by Gail Langan

Bill Ives and John Kreitzer, who have each made major contributions to drum and bugle corps activity outside of membership in an individual corps are the President’s Choice award winners for 2021.  They will be inducted into the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame during a ceremony in Valley Forge Casino Resort in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania on Saturday, November 20.

Bill Ives has amassed thousands of items and hundreds of vintage uniforms in his efforts to preserve the history of drum and bugle corps activity.  John Kreitzer has been judging marching bands and drum and bugle corps for more than 40 years.

Inducted into the Hall of Fame as an Associate Member in 2018, Bill Ives has been a key figure in the movement to preserve the history of drum and bugle corps activity.  He has amassed a staggering 24,000 items: memorabilia, souvenirs, programs, newspaper and magazine articles, corps buttons and badges and more than 350 vintage uniforms.  These items are stored and available for viewing by appointment only at the Archer-Epler Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 979 in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania.

For the past 20 years he has displayed many of these items regularly at drum corps events in the United States and Canada.  He has also created a detailed computerized listing of drum corps in the USA and Canada.

Earlier this year, his campaign to collect items for a proposed Marching Pageantry Arts Museum was the subject of a feature story in the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper.  The Inquirer is the country’s third oldest continually operating daily newspaper, founded in 1829.

He has served in various committee and management positions with groups including Jersey Surf and Archer-Epler Musketeers.  He has marched in various color guard positions and played bass drum with the Musketeers.  He was named Musketeer of the Year in 1982; received the Spirit of the Musketeer award in 1996; was named Drum Corps International (DCI) volunteer of the year in 2011.  He is a member of the Pennsylvania Drum Corps Hall of Fame.

John Kreitzer has been involved with drum and bugle corps and marching bands for more than 40 years.  Following his time as a brass performer, he began instructing many drum corps and high school bands.  He still plays tuba with large groups and smaller ensembles in central and southern Delaware.

He began judging in 1978 with the Mid Atlantic Judges Association, then the National Judges Association.  He began judging with Drum Corps Associates (DCA) in 1985, serving as DCA Judging Coordinator since his appointment to the position in 2008, just prior to DCA directors considering a new judging system at the 2009 Rules Congress.  

Under his direction, the judging administration worked with corps representatives to develop this new system that focusses on the audience.  Communicating and engaging with the audience was a new idea that required enhanced professional development for the judges so they could meet requirements different from other judging systems.  DCA program designers had to realize the judging response could be more emotional and less analytical. 

As the drum corps world has adapted to performing in pandemic times, he has provided extensive guidance to DCA member corps this year on how make the best use of cameras in covering field shows during virtual competition. 

During his time with DCA, he has judged each visual caption on many prelim and final championship tournament weekends.  He has also judged championship events with organizations including Cavalcade of Bands, Cavalcade Indoor, Keystone Indoor, Festivals of Music and Homestead Festivals.

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Jeff Kievit has been a high achiever everywhere he goes: on the contest field, in recording studios and Broadway theatres

Posted on July 20th, 2021 by Gail Langan

Jeff Kievit will be inducted into the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame (WDCHOF) for his Distinguished Professional Achievement during a ceremony in Valley Forge Casino Resort in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania on Saturday, November 20.

Widely considered the premier soloist in the drum corps community during his years with Hawthorne Muchachos, he has subsequently worked with many of the world’s best-known musicians; played trumpet for Broadway shows and produced a Grammy-nominated album.

As trumpeter, arranger, composer and producer, he currently works mostly in New York and south Florida.  Recent projects include performances with The Fab Faux, Bobby Caldwell, Chuck Mangione, Broadway shows and other live concerts.  He has also been recording for CDs, advertising jingles, TV themes and movies.

He has toured with artists and groups including the Bee Gees, Sammy Davis Jr., KC and the Sunshine Band, Lyle Lovett, Ben E. King and Frank Sinatra.  He has worked with such traveling shows as All Shook Up, Annie, Camelot, Chicago, The Drowsy Chaperone and Hairspray.  He has recently performed in concert with Debbie Boone, Beatles 1964 Tribute, Garth Brooks, Dave Grohl, Norah Jones, Brad Paisley, Kid Rock, Darius Rucker and James Taylor.

He was a member of the Muchachos for 15 years, joining at age 7 in 1960 when the corps had only 15 horns through the 1970s including years with 50 or more in the horn line. He played with the Hawthorne High School Band while still in elementary school.  He earned a bachelor’s degree in music at the University of Miami after studying for a semester at the Manhattan School of Music.

He won the Drum Corps International (DCI) individual soprano championship in 1974 and 1975, and was New Jersey State Champion the same two years.  He was also DCI East champion in 1974.  He has been a member of the Buglers Hall of Fame since 2006.

He was the brass arranger and instructor for Muchachos from 1971 to 1977, including five years when he was still performing as soprano soloist.  He was arranger and brass instructor with Hawthorne Caballeros in 1983 and again in 2000.

Following his drum corps years, he played lead trumpet with Chuck Mangione’s band from 1978 to 2012.  He was music director for the group from 2005 through 2012.

He has performed on trumpet, flugel horn or piccolo trumpet on more than 20 top selling albums, featuring such artists as Stevie Wonder, Chuck Mangione, Tony Bennett, Shirley MacLaine, Gladys Knight and the Pips. Frank Sinatra, Luther Vandross, Lionel Richie, Lady Gaga, Bruce Springsteen and Burt Bacharach.

He was the producer of Vanessa Williams’ Grammy-nominated album Star Bright.  He also co-arranged, produced and played when she sang the national anthem at the beginning of the Super Bowl XXX football game played January 28, 1996 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona.

He has performed in seven Broadway shows, beginning in 1990 playing second trumpet in Oh, Kay!  

He played first trumpet in Kiss of the Spider Woman in 1993.  With Steel Pier in 1997 and the original production of Ragtime the following year he played trumpet.  He was lead trumpet in three shows: The Boy From Oz in 2003; La Cage aux Folles in 2004 and Chita Rivera: The Dancer’s Life in 2005.

Broadway theatre refers to theatrical performances presented in 41 theatres, each with 500 or more seats, located in midtown Manhattan in New York City.

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International inductee Roger Steele widely honored in the United Kingdom for the impact of his outstanding service to the drum corps community

Posted on July 17th, 2021 by Gail Langan

Roger Steele, a leading figure in the British and European drum corps movement for more than 40 years will be inducted into the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame (WDCHOF) in the International category during a ceremony in Valley Forge Casino Resort in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania on Saturday, November 20.

His role as a leader in the drum corps community is widely recognized in the United Kingdom.  He is a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE), an award bestowed by Queen Elizabeth II in 2010.  The MBE is awarded for outstanding achievement or service to the community that has had a long-term, significant impact. 

As director of Concord Drum and Bugle Corps since 1984, he has developed a thriving stage and festival performance section to meet the challenge of performing off the field.  He was a founder of the indoor Music Games in the United Kingdom in 2018, served as vice chairman in 2020 and is a current board member.

He was a founding member of the British Drum Corps Federation in 1987 and a key leader in the formation of Drum Corps United Kingdom (DCUK) in 1989, serving as vice chairman in the early 1990s.  In 1992, he spent the summer with a number of Drum Corps International (DCI) corps as part of a research project with the Winston Churchill Foundation.  Established in 1959, the Winston Churchill Foundation was founded by American friends of Churchill, who wanted to fulfill his wish of always having gifted young American graduate students at Churchill College at the University of Cambridge.

He was inducted into the DCUK Hall of Fame in 1995.

Over many years, he has worked in the background as a mentor to staff members of many new and upcoming drum and bugle corps, helping organizations create and maintain successful operating foundations.  With Concord well established as a perennial championship contender he turned his attention to younger participants beginning in 2000, producing another string of championship units.

Concord Drum and Bugle Corps won the DCUK A Class championship in 1985 and 2006; British Drum Corps Federation championship in 1987 and 1988; British Drum Corps Federation Winter Guard championship in 1987 and 1988; European Drum Corps championship in 1991.

Since the turn of the century, Concord’s youth groups have won several DCUK championships:  Cadet Class in 2001; Junior Class in 2003; four straight Junior Class titles from 2015 to 2018.

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Years of activity by 10 new Associate inductees cover eight decades from 1940 all the way up to today

Posted on July 15th, 2021 by Gail Langan

Years of activity by the 10 new Associate members to be inducted into the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame (WDCHOF) during a ceremony in Valley Forge Casino Resort in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania on Saturday, November 20 cover all the years from 1940 right up until today. 

Associate members have dedicated at least five consecutive years of service to any drum and bugle corps as a performer or in a support role.  The individuals to be inducted in the class of 2021 are:

Joe “The Colonel” Brancati has been continuously performing for more than 80 years, beginning in 1940 when he played solo soprano with Lions Club Junior drum and bugle corps.  He also played solo soprano horn with H. Daly Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) drum corps, Bill’s Boys and ROMEO Cadets. Along the way, he was instructor for Flagstaff–Perth Amboy in 1945, the first African American corps in New Jersey history.  In 1948, he was cofounder, instructor and featured soloist with Amboy Dukes.

He won the Interstate Circuit individual soprano title in 1958 and 1959.

He has been a journalist with Drum Corps World and Drum Corps Heritage Magazine.  He received an award for service, along with astronaut John Glenn, from the governor of Kentucky.

He has served in a number of administration positions, including treasurer and business manager for Bill’s Boys.  He has been director of the ROMEO Cadets since 1989.

He became a member of the Buglers Hall of Fame in 2010 and was inducted to the New Jersey Drum Corps Hall of Fame the following year.

John Carr is currently DCA president after serving as treasurer and board member since 2016.  He is well known for taking the initiative in establishing the March of Champions contest in Kingston, one of DCA’s most popular and well-attended shows for more than 25 years.

He began playing soprano horn with Hawthorne Muchachos at age 11 in 1968, continuing until 1978 when the corps disbanded.  He has been involved with the Muchachos Foundation since its inception in 2012, currently serving as president.  The Foundation provides scholarships to young people in today’s competitive drum corps.  Active members of both DCI and DCA corps have received scholarships worth more than $20,000 in total.  As well, the Foundation provides funds for special families at holiday times.

The March of Champions originated as a fund raising project for the Children’s Home of Kingston.  He is treasurer of the board of directors, assisting with financing, development and fund raising.  The Home serves boys from age six to 18 with residential and outpatient clinical care.

After the Muchachos disbanded, he was part of the team that merged the Imperial Knights, Dynamic Royal Aires and Valley Grenadiers to create Fantasia III, with corporate sponsorship from Burger King.  In addition to serving on the board of directors he was show designer and marching instructor.

Brad Coleman is a triple threat drum corps veteran who has performed in both percussion and horn sections; marched as drum major; served as both a percussion and drill tech. 

His drum corps career began in 1974, when he played double tenor and tympani with N.J. Saints.  During his time with New York Skyliners from 1976 to 1983 and again in 1993, he was assistant drum major and tympani and drill technician.  While a member of the Sunrisers from 1985 to 1990 and 1994 to 1997, he was drum major and soprano horn player.  He was percussion tech with Hawthorne Caballeros in 2002.

He has enjoyed two lengthy terms with New York Skyliners Alumni, serving as drum major and brass tech for 10 years from 1998 to 2008 and from 2016 to the present.

He was inducted into the New Jersey Drum Corps Hall of Fame in 2017.

Mike DiMuro already loved the music of the Big Swing Band era when school friends invited him to a Ridge Culver Statesmen drum and bugle corps practice in 1953.  He played soprano bugle with the corps through 1958.  He was prompted to learn more about music and improve his performance level by Ridge Culver Statesmen instructor Lois Weibold, who continuously encouraged him by regularly adding new lesson plans to help acquire higher skills.  

He performed with the Rochester Crusaders horn line from 1959 to 1965 as soprano soloist, including the Crusaders’ American Legion national championship performance in 1965.  His original drum corps days ended when he joined the United States Army in 1966.

He returned to drum corps activity in 2010, performing with Prime Time Brass ensemble.  He has been a soprano soloist with St. Joe’s Alumni Corps since 2011.

Fran Haring has been the familiar announcer voice at DCA championship and regional contests for 35 years.  Many drum corps members have heard him introduce them on the field for their entire marching careers.  His professionalism and style elevate drum corps events, raising the excitement level and image of each performance.  His voice is familiar at many drum corps ceremonies and formal gatherings.

Away from the microphone, he has been a Drum Corps World contributing writer since 1983.  He was one of the staff members who produced the DCA Championship Yearbook in 1983, 1984 and 1985.  He was publicity director of the Long Island Sunrisers from 1980 to 1982.

In addition to announcing every DCA championship contest for more than three decades, he has been at the microphone for such prominent events as the DCA Alumni Spectacular, American Legion National Championship, DCI East and DCI Central championships, National Dream Contest, Drum Corps Grand Prix, Hershey Spectacular, Parade of Champions, Drumfest.  He has also emceed such well-known events as the Yankee Rebels Dixie Stinger, Reading Buccaneers Spring Preview, Inter-Service Academy Drum Corps Championships and the 2014 Army/Navy game.

On the field, he played French horn/mellophone with Sacred Heart Crusaders in 1971-1976 and French horn with Sunrisers from 1977 to 1983.

He was inducted into the Sunrisers Hall of Fame in 2010 and the Maryland Drum and Bugle Corps Hall of Fame in 2021.

Chris Maher is one of the principal historians and archivists in the drum corps community.  His significant contributions as a researcher, conservator, writer, photographer and database/web architect over more than 20 years have evolved into the online museum Drum Corps Xperience (DCX, available at dcxmuseum.org), which houses the history of thousands of drum corps, past and present. 

His collection includes repertoires, contest scores, photos and videos, with audio excerpts coming soon. He is one of the leading photographers in the drum corps community, taking pictures for Corpsreps, DCA and Drum Corps World since 2005.

He is currently working with Bill Ives, WDCHOF 2021 President’s Choice award winner, to document more than 230 vintage uniforms in Ives’ collection for display on DCX.

He played in the percussion section of the Westchester Horizons in the 1970s, and since 2002 has volunteered in a parent support position with Lehigh Valley Knights, Crossmen, Phantom Regiment and Blue Devils.

Shirley “Babe” McGrath was a member of the Emerald Cadets Jr. Drum & Bugle Corps of Rochester, (Irondequoit) N.Y. in 1962, the Emerald Statesmen in 1966 and 1967 and the Emerald Cadets competition color guard in 1968 and 1969.  She was a member of St. Joe’s Jr. Drum and Bugle Corps of Batavia, N.Y. in 1970 and 1971 and a member of the Phoenix Senior Drum and Bugle Corps of Rochester, N.Y. in 1976. 

She was in the St. Joe’s Alumni Corps from 2009 through 2012 as an instructor and Honor Guard Captain in 2011 and 2012. She was Captain of the Honor Guard for Bugles Across America at the DCA Championships, and a member of the Empire Statesmen Honor Guard for two competition seasons

In 2008 and 2009 she assisted Darcy Davis in the streamlining of the WDCHOF induction ceremony. She later became the banquet chairwoman from 2010 through 2014.

In 2011 Shirley promoted the idea of making an audio-video presentation for each new inductee to Bob Glovna, for viewing at the induction ceremony. Gail Langan secured the special audio-visual equipment needed for those presentations and Frank Dorritie, with his professional background in studio-music production, guided that process to a successful conclusion.  This initiative was one of Shirley’s more noteworthy contributions in modernizing the annual WDCHOF ceremony.

Dennis “Dino” Myers was a contrabass player with Reading Buccaneers when the corps won back-to-back DCA championships in 1979 and 1980.  Off the field, he has been business manager for three different corps and since 2014 has been co-chair of Reading Buccaneers Alumni’s popular Music in the Mountains indoor show.

He has been involved in drum corps activity for most of his life, since he was introduced to the activity in 1957 when at age 10 he joined the Pleasureville Cadets, American Legion Post 799 parade corps.

More than 60 years later, he still plays contrabass with two alumni corps: Buccaneers Alumni since 2011 and Hanover Lancers Alumni since 2014.  He also played with Yankee Rebels Alumni from 1989 to 1992.

He was business manager with York White Roses junior drum and bugle corps in 1970 and 1971; Reading Buccaneers in 1979 and 1980 and Buccaneers Alumni from 2014 to 2018.

He switched to contrabass when he joined York White Roses and performed with them from 1964 to 1968, then performed with Yankee Rebels and Reading Buccaneers at various times between 1969 and 1982.

He also supported marching arts activities during his years as marching and drill instructor with New Oxford, Whitehall, Dover and Penn Manor high school bands from the mid-1970s through the late 1990s.

He was inducted into the Reading Buccaneers Hall of Fame in 2016.

Bill Siddon had an early start in music and marching.  He started playing trumpet in grade 5; played in the high school band the following year; joined the hometown Rensselaer Valiant Crusaders junior drum and bugle corps at age 11 in 1953, playing single valve soprano horn.  He became a solo soprano player three years later and drum major in 1957, replacing future Hall of Fame member Alan Smythe.  He joined the Interstatesmen in 1960, playing solo baritone until 1967.

After a year with Syracuse Brigadiers, he found his long time drum corps home with New York Skyliners, marching from 1969 to 1975.  During his years on the field, Skyliners won the DCA championship title in 1971.

He instructed several corps during the 1960s and 1970s.  He was both horn and drill instructor for Averil Park Cavaliers from 1963 to 1965.  He was horn instructor for Berkshire Pom Poms all girl drum and bugle corps and Pittsfield Skyhawks and drill instructor for Capital District Defenders in 1977 and 1979.

After taking time off to raise his family and teach corps in the Albany, New York and Pittsfield, Massachusetts area he joined the newly formed Skyliners Alumni Drum Corps in 1993, playing baritone for 15 years, becoming assistant drum major for two years then drum major in 2011.  He retired from drum corps activity in 2017 at age 74.

Dan Wildonger has helped keep the wheels moving for the Reading Buccaneers since he joined the organization in 1997.  While he played mellophone or baritone in the horn line for the following 10 years, he was also active with administration duties.

The Buccaneers have won 13 of their total 17 DCA World Championships while he has been contributing on the field and in administration duties.  These include six undefeated championship years from 2005 to 2010; four titles from 2012 through 2015 and three from 2017 to 2019.

He served on the Buccaneers membership committee from 1997 through 2004.  He became secretary to the board in 2005, remaining in that position until 2014.  He has been the assistant director since 2015.

Many of his contributions to corps activity are behind the scenes.  He is often the person driving a truck, placing lines on the field or making sure water bottles are available to corps members, tasks completely separate from formal administration duties but just as important to keep the whole operation running smoothly.

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New Regular members have been making an impact across the continent and around the world for 50 years

Posted on July 8th, 2021 by Gail Langan

Six new Regular members will be inducted into the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame during a ceremony to take place in Valley Forge Casino Resort in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania on Saturday, November 20.  The inductees have been making an impact on the activity across the continent and around the world for the past 50 years.

The Hall of Fame class of 2021 includes inductees in five categories: Regular, Associate, President’s Choice, International and Distinguished Professional Achievement.

Regular members from administration, brass, percussion and visual categories to be inducted this year are:

Administration:

Richard “Dick” Eschenmann has dedicated 30 years of service to Drum Corps Associates (DCA), beginning in 1985 when he was one of the Westshoremen representatives at DCA meetings.  As a representative of Grey Knights, he was part of the group that in the late 1990s proposed that DCA initiate a Class A division.  He subsequently served as the Class A coordinator for three years.

He became DCA business manager in 2004, serving in that position for the following 15 years. He was appointed following the untimely passing of DCA president Mickey Petrone, a World Drum Corps Hall of Fame member inducted in 1977.  One of the major tasks during his tenure was insuring that all corps were in compliance when the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) began requiring licensing fees from drum and bugle corps that performed music of artists represented by those groups.

He simultaneously served as championship contest chairman for DCA’s Labor Day weekend tournaments in four different cities in three states: Scranton, Pennsylvania; Rochester, New York; Annapolis, Maryland and Williamsport, Pennsylvania.  He previously served as the gate/field coordinator at DCA championships in Scranton and Allentown, Pennsylvania and Rochester and Syracuse, New York.  His introduction to the administrative side of the drum corps activity came in the 1980s and ‘90s when he served as administrative assistant with Westshoremen, then with the Grey Knights.

Prior to his term as DCA Chief Judge from 2008 to 2017, he was a tabulator at DCA contests.

His performance career includes playing soprano with Les Saints drum and bugle corps from 1961 to 1963 and with Lebanon Entertainment Express in 1981 and 1982.

Bill Hamilton first joined the Bluecoats of Canton, Ohio in 1972 as a soprano horn player.  He’s been with the organization ever since, devoting 48 years to the same corps.  Over that time span, he has been an instructor, held various administration positions and still found time to be a DCA brass judge in 1997.

As Bluecoats began to rise higher in competition, he recognized that his full time job as a band director prevented him from devoting the time needed to help the corps continue to move up.  In 2003, after 10 years as corps director he worked with the board directors to find a candidate to replace himself.  In the time since he has worked along side director David Glasgow, providing guidance and support.  He was program coordinator in 2004 and 2005 and has served as corps manager since 2006.

He began to instruct the brass section in 1983, shortly after the corps almost folded because of financial problems.  He was brass instructor in 1987 when Bluecoats became the first Ohio corps to make the Drum Corps International (DCI) championship finals.  The corps then missed the finals only once before the Bluecoats won the 2016 DCI championship.  

Moving on to the administrative side of corps operations, he was tour coordinator in 1992, corps director for 10 years when he shifted gears again to support his replacement in the administration structure.

Brass:

Michael Klesch started his drum corps career at the pinnacle of success.  Now a world-renowned brass arranger, he came to drum and bugle corps activity as a piano player who played bass drum with Garfield Cadets in 1982, became drum major in 1983 then moved to the brass staff in 1984.  The following year, at 23 years of age, he became brass caption supervisor and arranger, replacing outgoing World Drum Corps Hall of Fame arranger Jim Prime, as the Cadets won their third straight DCI championship.

During his time with the Cadets, the corps won DCI titles in 1983, 1984, 1985, 1987 and 1990 and four Jim Ott Awards for best brass performance.  Since he became brass arranger and musical director for Carolina Crown in 2003, the corps won the DCI championship in 2013 and seven Jim Ott Awards.

After his connection to the Cadets, he worked with many other top drum and bugle corps.  He has established himself as a highly talented and effective educator, working with drum corps including Phantom Regiment, Spirit of Atlanta, Colts, Crossmen, Troopers, The Academy, Hurricanes and Sunrisers.

He currently operates his own music arranging business, working with ensembles around the world.  He was assistant band director at the University of Massachusetts from 1995 to 2006.

He became a member of the Cadets Hall of Fame in 2003 and the DCI Hall of Fame in 2012.  He is also a member of the University of Massachusetts UMass Band Hall of Fame.

Key Poulan III is a composer and arranger who has helped produce championship groups in three separate divisions: DCI Open Class, DCA World Class and DCA Mini Corps.

He has also composed works for drum and bugle corps in countries around the world, including Allegiance Elite and Pride of the Lions in western Canada; Juliana of Middelburg, Netherlands; Millenium of Bergamo and Brianza of Veduggio in Italy; Siamyth of Thailand; La Tansa of Indonesia; and Strangnas of Sweden.

He is an innovator who used an ensemble of 12 tenor trombones for the entire show, not just a brass feature, by the Mandarins in 2018.  Last year, he created a special quintet featuring soprano, alto, tenor, bass and contrabass trombones for Genesis.

He is widely admired for assisting drum corps in addition to composing and arranging.  He also provides input and interpretation and is readily available for consultation with design and technical staff throughout the contest season.

His string of championship titles began in 2003 when Hawthorne Caballeros won the DCA title.  The same year, Esperanza of San Diego won the DCI Open Class title, the first corps from southern California to win a DCI championship since 1972. He also won DCI Open class titles with two other corps: the Vanguard Cadets in 2013, 2015 to 2017 and Spartans in 2004, 2005, 2007.  He was arranger when Star United won four of its DCA Mini Corps titles.

He served as a DCI music judge in effect/ensemble brass from 1990 to 2002.

He has been arranger/program and design coordinator with Mandarins since 2011.  Before that, was composer/arranger for both Santa Clara Vanguard and the Vanguard Cadets.  He was composer/arranger for Hawthorne Caballeros from 2003 to 2006 and 2011 to 2015; Fusion Core in 2019 and 2020; Hurricanes from 2018 to 2020.

His first involvement with drum corps activity came in 1983, when he played baritone horn with Blue Devils, of Concord, California.

Percussion:

Paul Rennick’s percussion groups have won the DCI Fred Sanford Award for Percussion Performance eight times.  In a rare feat, he has won percussion caption championships with two different organizations: Santa Clara Vanguard and Phantom Regiment

He was music composer/arranger, instructor and percussion manager as a member of the team that developed Blast, the Tony and Emmy Award winning Broadway production

He is an artist and product consultant with Dynasty USA, helping design the Custom Elite series of marching drums.  He has designed three signature sticks for Innovative Percussion. He is an artist and clinician for Remo Inc. and Avedis Sildjian.

He is renowned for his percussion arranging, designing tasteful and musical writing.  Working with his wife Sandi, who writes the front ensemble parts, they have created nuanced percussion arrangements that elevate the entire musical ensemble.

As music coordinator, percussion director and arranger for Santa Clara Vanguard, he captured the Fred Sanford Award a record five times in six years and the DCI championship in 2018.  He served as director of percussion for Phantom Regiment from 2003 to 2010, winning the Fred Sanford Award three times and the DCI world title in 2008.  He has instructed such well known drum and bugle corps as Blue Devils, Sky Ryders, Velvet Knights, Carolina Crown and Troopers.

He has been percussion arranger for many groups, including Rochester Crusaders, Connecticut Hurricanes, Sunrisers and Yokohama Scouts of Japan.

Since 1989, he has written and designed the competitive shows for the 22-time Percussive Arts Society (PAS) International Champion University of North Texas (UNT) indoor drum line.  He has been assistant professor of percussion at UNT since 1991.  He was featured soloist with the UNT Wind Symphony recording Percussive Palooza and during a showcase concert at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC) in 2006. 

He has spent more than 30 years in drum corps activity, starting in the drum line of the Bayonne Bridgemen in 1985 and 1986.

Visual:

Denise Bonfiglio 

During a drum corps career that spans six decades, Denise Bonfiglio has worked from coast to coast, setting high standards as a color guard performer, choreographer, technician, design consultant, visual judge and director of various units.

In the 1990s, she served as an instructor representative on the Winter Guard International (WGI) team that wrote the WGI judging philosophy.  She is a visual judge with several organizations, including WGI, Mass Judges Association and Musical Arts Conference.

She first carried a rifle in the color guard of Immaculate Conception Reveries in 1965.  She moved on to the guard of the 27th Lancers, the corps founded by her father George Bonfiglio, a charter member of the DCI Hall of Fame.  She is co-founder with her sister Janine McWilliams of the Bonfiglio Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides scholarships to DCI corps members.

After aging out with 27th Lancers in 1975, she remained with the corps for the next 10 years working as caption head, choreographer and technician.  She served as choreographer and technician with Cadets of Bergen County for the following decade.  She also served as design consultant and staff coordinator with Santa Clara Vanguard in recent years before returning to the Cadets as staff coordinator in 2019, becoming CEO and director in 2020.  She is winner of five DCI championships as choreographer or design consultant: three with the Cadets and two with Santa Clara.  Under her leadership, Santa Clara Vanguard winter guard won three gold, three silver and two bronze world championship medals.

She is also a member of the WGI, Music Educators and DCI halls of fame.

 

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New members will be inducted during ceremony in Valley Forge, PA on November 20

Posted on June 28th, 2021 by Gail Langan

After skipping an induction ceremony and banquet in 2020 because of COVID 19 pandemic restrictions, the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame will induct new members during the 2021 ceremony to take place in Valley Forge Casino Resort in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania on Saturday, November 20.  The date and location of the event is a departure from earlier ceremonies, which were traditionally held on the same weekend and location as the Drum Corps Associates (DCA) championship tournament on Labor Day weekend.

The Hall of Fame class of 2021 includes inductees in five categories: Regular, Associate, President’s Choice, International, Distinguished Professional Achievement.

Regular members are honored for their dedication, contributions and achievements over a long period of time in areas including administration, arranging, adjudication, instruction, innovation and design.  Associate members have dedicated at least five consecutive years of service to any drum and bugle corps as a performer or in a support role.  President’s Choice award winners are selected for exceptional activities in support of the drum and bugle corps community.  International Award recipients are selected on the same criteria as regular members.  The Distinguished Professional Achievement award recognizes former drum and bugle corps participants with outstanding career achievements in areas including music and other business activities.  

Regular members from administration, brass, percussion and visual categories to be inducted this year are:

Administration:

Richard Eschenmann became DCA business manager in 2004, serving in that position for the following 15 years.  During that time he also served as DCA championship contest chairman at tournaments in Scranton, Pennsylvania; Rochester, New York; Annapolis, Maryland and Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

William Hamilton has been associated with the same drum and bugle corps, the Bluecoats of Canton, Ohio, for almost 50 years.  Since playing soprano horn in 1972, he has instructed the brass line, served in various administrative positions including corps director and judged brass for DCA.

Brass:

Michael Klesch was arranger and brass staff member for Garfield Cadets in the 1980s, when the corps won six Drum Corps International (DCI) championships and four Jim Ott Awards for best brass performance.  He is considered one of the preeminent brass arrangers in the drum corps community.

Key Poulan III has been composer/arranger for such top North American drum and bugle corps as Santa Clara Vanguard and Vanguard Cadets, Hawthorne Caballeros, Fusion Core and Hurricanes over the past decade.  He has also composed for drum and bugle corps in Canada, the Netherlands, Italy, Thailand, Indonesia and Sweden.

Percussion:

Paul Rennick’s percussion groups have won the DCI Fred Sanford Award for Percussion Performance eight times.  In a rare feat, he has won percussion caption championships with two different organizations: Santa Clara Vanguard and Phantom Regiment.  He was a key member of the team that developed Blast, the Tony and Emmy Award winning Broadway production.

Visual:

Denise Bonfiglio has won five DCI championships serving as choreographer or design consultant: three times with Cadets of Bergen County and twice with Santa Clara Vanguard.  Under her leadership, Santa Clara Vanguard won three gold, three silver and two bronze World Championship medals.  She co-founded the non-profit Bonfiglio Foundation to raise funds to provide scholarships to DCI corps members.

The new Associate members are:

Joe Brancati, known fondly as “The Colonel,” has been performing continuously since he began playing soprano horn in 1940: a span of more than 80 years.  In 1945, he instructed Flagstaff-Perth Amboy, the first African American drum and bugle corps in New Jersey history.  He co-founded and taught the Amboy Dukes in 1945.  He was also Amboy Dukes featured soloist, performing an iconic version of Sugar Blues in 1958.  He has been director of ROMEO Cadets since 1989.  Cadet recruits must be age 70 or more! 

John Carr has been involved with the March of Champions contest in Kingston, New York for 25 years.  It is one of DCA’s most popular and well-attended shows.  He has been DCA treasurer and board member since 2016.  He played soprano horn with Hawthorne Muchachos for 10 years until the corps disbanded in 1978.  He then helped obtain Burger King corporate sponsorship to support the creation of Fantasia III. 

Brad Coleman has applied his widespread drum corps skills in brass, percussion and drill to several top rated corps.  He has been a tympani player, assistant drum major and drill technician with New York Skyliners; drum major and soprano horn with Sunrisers, drum major and brass tech with Skyliners Alumni and percussion tech with Hawthorne Caballeros.

Mike DiMuro began playing a soprano bugle with Ridge Culver Statesmen in Rochester in 1953 and quickly rose to the position of soloist before moving on to play solo soprano with Rochester Crusaders for six years, including 1965 when the corps won the America Legion national championship.  He returned to drum corps activity in 2010, performing with Prime Time Brass and St. Joe’s Alumni Corps.

Chris Maher has been a key historian and archivist in the efforts to preserve various aspects of drum and bugle corps activity, including music scores, photos, videos and narratives.  Over more than 20 years, his contributions as researcher, conservator, writer, photographer and database/web architect have evolved into the online museum Drum Corps Experience (DCX).  

Fran Haring has been the voice of drum corps for more than 35 years as the announcer at DCA regional and championship shows, National Dream contest, Drum Corps Grand Prix, Parade of Champions, American Legion championships and many others.  He has been a Drum Corps World contributing writer since 1983.  His drum corps involvement began when he played French horn with Sacred Heart Crusaders in 1971.

Shirley McGrath was active with color guards of several top Rochester area junior corps, starting in 1962 when she marched as the corps mascot for Emerald Cadets of Irondequoit: she was too short to manoeuver a full sized flag.  After two years, she moved to rifle then to a flag spot in the competition color guard.  She was World Drum Corps Hall of Fame banquet manager for five years and has instructed the St. Joe’s Alumni honor guard.

Dennis “Dino” Myers first became involved in drum corps activity at age 10 in 1957.  In addition to playing contra bass with Reading Buccaneers and Yankee Rebels over the years, he has served as business manager for York White Roses, Reading Buccaneers and Alumni.  He has been co-chair of Buccaneers Alumni indoor show Music in the Mountains since 2014.

William Siddon began playing a single valve soprano horn at age 11 in 1953, the start of a drum corps career that includes more than 30 years with New York Skyliners, first playing baritone then eventually marching out front as drum major with Skyliners Alumni.  He has been a horn and drill instructor for many upstate New York corps, introducing hundreds of young people to drum corps activity.

Dan Wildonger keeps the wheels moving behind the scenes for Reading Buccaneers: loading and driving the truck, lining the field and making sure corps members have water.  His more formal duties since joining the Bucs in 1997 including performing in the horn line, serving on the membership committee, secretary to the board, and assistant director.   

President’s Award (two inductees):

Bill Ives has amassed more than 16,000 items and more than 230 vintage uniforms in his efforts to preserve the history of drum and bugle corps activity.  For 20 years, he has been displaying samples of his collection at various events in Canada and the United States.

John Kreitzer has been involved in marching bands and drum and bugle corps for more than 40 years.  He began judging with Drum Corps Associates (DCA) in 1985, serving as DCA Judging Coordinator since his appointment to the position in 2008.  He has provided extensive guidance to DCA member corps this year on how make the best use of cameras in covering field shows during virtual competition. 

International Category:

Roger Steele, of Sheffield, South Yorkshire, United Kingdom began serving as director of Concord Drum and Bugle Corps in 1984.  Since then, the corps has won 13 championships in six different classes.  He was a founder member of the British Drum Corps Federation in 1987.

Distinguished Professional Achievement:

Jeff Kievit was a soprano soloist with Hawthorne Muchachos junior drum and bugle corps who has since performed on trumpet with artists and groups popular around the world.  He has also performed on many Broadway Musical cast albums.

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‘Agawam’s Music Man’ Darcy Davis was two-time winner of VFW solo soprano title

Posted on May 24th, 2021 by Gail Langan

World Drum Corps Hall of Fame (WDCHoF) member Darcy B. Davis Jr., a two-time winner of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) national individual bugle solo soprano performance championship passed away early in 2020 at the age of 93.  Notice of his passing was not widely circulated at the time.

He was inducted into the WDCHoF in 1987.  He was also a member of the Buglers Hall of Fame, inducted in 2012.  A short video presented at his BHoF induction is available at BHOF 2012 Inductee – Darcy Davis

He passed away peacefully on January 29, 2020 surrounded by members of his family.  Those wishing to honor his memory can make donations to the Agawam, Massachusetts, High School Marching Band or the First Baptist Church of Agawam.

While teaching music at Tabor Academy in Marion, Massachusetts from 1949 to 1951, he became the school’s first full time band director and also played soprano horn with Lieutenant Norman Prince drum and bugle corps.  He won the VFW national individual soprano title at the 1950 convention in Chicago.  He won the individual title again in 1953 in Miami as the Princemen again also won the VFW title. 

His involvement in drum corps activity began in 1939, as a member of Troop 31 Boy Scout Drum Corps.  By 1940, he was the drill, drum and bugle instructor for the VFW junior drum and bugle corps in North Adams, Massachusetts, the town where he was born October 18, 1926.  North Adams, located in the northwest corner of the Berkshires is the smallest city in Massachusetts, offering a bustling cultural life including contemporary art and indie music activities.

He served as a judge with the All American and Northeast associations as well as Drum Corps Associates (DCA) and Drum Corps International (DCI).  He also judged in World Open, US Open, VFW Nationals, Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) and International Open contests. He coordinated the WDCHoF induction banquets for several years in the early 2000s.  He also worked closely with WDCHoF founder Vince Bruni to assemble stories and memories told by Hall of Fame members on audio-tape to help preserve the history of the activity.

After graduating from high school in North Adams he served in the United States Army Air Corps before graduating from Williams College.  He then entered post-graduate studies at Boston University College of Music, with further studies at Harvard, Columbia and Hartt College of Music.  He began teaching in Agawam in 1955, serving as band director and supervisor of music for Agawam Public Schools.

During his career he produced more than 20 Broadway musicals on the high school stage while the Agawam High School Band won many local and national awards.  His band was selected to represent Massachusetts at the world premiere of the hit show The Music Man in Mason City, Iowa.  

After retiring he remained active in music, performing with Marksmen Alumni Drum and Bugle Corps, the Memories Big Band in Somers, and the Agawam Senior Center Melody Band.  He organized and served as director of the Agawam Senior Center Chorus. He was parade marshal for the daily afternoon parades during the Eastern States Exposition.

He was fondly known throughout the community as Agawam’s Music Man.  His legacy is extended by the music performances at the Darcy B. Davis Jr. Band Shell in School Street Park in Agawam. 

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Widely admired performer, arranger and innovator Ken Norman

Posted on May 12th, 2021 by Gail Langan

Widely admired performer, arranger and innovator Ken Norman, inducted into the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame in 2006, passed away peacefully in hospital in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on Sunday May 9 shortly after suffering a massive stroke.  Because of continued pandemic restrictions a celebration of life is delayed until an appropriate time.

Born in Racine, Wisconsin in 1943, he began arranging music for the Racine Kilties brass section in the 1960s, while he was playing French horn with the corps.  He was Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) French horn champion in 1963 and 1964.  In later years, he played mellophone with Kenosha Kingsmen and the Kilties senior corps.  The junior Kilties, founded in 1934, won three VFW national championships during his time in the 1960s: 1964, 1968 and 1969.

Frustrated with the limitations in range and flexibility of traditional military style bugles, he headed the effort to develop the G – F horn, which allowed more notation options and gave the instrument a more legitimate aspect in wider music circles.  The new instrument was a bugle keyed in G with the valve tuned in F and a rotary valve tuned in B flat, mimicking the first and second valve of a trumpet.

That innovation is now considered to be the most important development in drum and bugle corps brass instrumentation.  He helped develop the proposal that convinced the VFW to accept the new style bugles in competition, then was involved in manufacturing a set of instruments for the 1968 Kilties to showcase the new technology and expanded arrangement possibilities.  He was instrumental in the first use of the mellophone as a solo and ensemble instrument in brass voicing.  

His influence helped the drum and bugle corps community move away from the tight rules and restrictions of the national veterans organizations, toward a new era of musical excellence and recognition as an art form.  He helped develop a new judging caption first used in 1971: a music analysis sheet that was not based on the “tick” system: a concept that forms the basis for current judging systems.  

He made a major impact on drum corps activity as an arranger, creating charts for more than 100 drum and bugle corps around the word.  His classic arrangement of Auld Lang Syne is performed throughout the drum corps community.

He was inducted into the Buglers Hall of Fame in 2010 and the Drum Corps International (DCI) Hall of Fame in 2011.

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