Bracken Alumni Holds First Practice in Six Months

Posted on September 24th, 2020 by Gail Langan

The Bracken Alumni Corps, of Bristol, Pennsylvania started out-of-door practices the week of September 18, following weeks of inactivity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There are no performances scheduled, so it was just for the camaraderie of getting together, and to keep our chops in shape,” stated music director and brass instructor Chuck Smith, an associate Hall of Fame member inducted in 2002.

“Everyone enjoyed playing with a group, for the first time in over six months, and the corps sounded better than expected after the long lay-off,” he added.

Chuck Smith began a long association with corps in the Philadelphia area in 1954, with Duquesne Dukes.  He then spent seven years with the Pittsburgh Rockets before several decades of service with Archer Epler Musketeers as a baritone player, music arranger, and instructor and arranger for the chorus.  He also served as an instructor or arranger with a number of nationally known corps in the 1970s, including Steel City Ambassadors, Audubon Bon Bons, Bracken Cadets and Bristol Cadets.  He was a high school band director in Bensalem PA for 25 years and has sung professionally with a number of organizations.

The Bracken Cavaliers are widely considered the first junior drum and bugle corps in the United States, formed in the early 1920s.  The Cavaliers won Pennsylvania state championships in 1932 – 35.  The corps is named after Bristol High School grad Private Robert W. Bracken, of Company C, 15th Machine Gun Battalion.  He was the first Bristol casualty of World War I.

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Associate member Gail Langan appointed new Hall of Fame webmaster

Posted on September 17th, 2020 by Gail Langan

Associate member Gail Langan, inducted in 2017, is the new World Drum Corps Hall of Fame (WDCHoF) webmaster, replacing Dan Rippon, a regular member inducted in 2012, who will continue to serve as website assistant.  The appointment was announced by WDCHoF president Richard Templin on September 14.

Those who have attended Hall of Fame induction banquets for the past few years are familiar with the major contribution Gail Langan has already made to Hall of Fame activities: she has been producing the induction video features since 2011.  She also conceived of and produced the videos for Buglers Hall of Fame induction ceremonies from 2010 to 2012.  She has conducted video interviews with prominent drum corps personalities.

She is a founding member and board member of the Drum Corps Experience virtual museum, which debuted online in the summer of 2017.  From 2010 to 2015, she handled public relations for Park City Pride Alumni.

She played lead soprano with ND-ettes drum and bugle corps (Notre Dame Girls High School) in Bridgeport for five years, winning four major championships: the 1969 and 1970 World Open All Girl Championship; the 1970 U.S. Open All Girl Championship and the 1970 Greater New York Circuit All Girl Championship.  The following year, she was assistant brass instructor with ND-ettes.  She played soprano and mellophone with Park City Pride Alumni from 2004 to 2011 and more recently played mellophone with St. Rita’s Brassmen Alumni and the Romeos Brass Ensemble.

Dan Rippon also made important contributions to the drum corps community off the contest field.  He proposed and served as the first coordinator of the Drum Corps Associates (DCA) Class A division.  Ten Class A corps competed in the 2005 DCA championship preliminaries, making it the largest prelim show in DCA history to that date.  He provided computer automation support to the National Judges Association for website design and a judging profile system.  He also provided design and support services for the computerized DCA tabulation system.

He has served in many DCA positions, including secretary, vice president, business manager, executive board member and assistant treasurer.  He was the first outside member of the board elected to Five Star Brass Productions.  When the Westshoremen were facing difficult times, he stepped in to serve as corps director, helping to create a successful turnaround.  He has judged for DCA and the National Judges Association.  In his early years in the activity, he marched with several corps, including Rochester Crusaders, Grey Knights of St. Mary, Pennsylvania and Johnsonburg Diplomats.  He first marched with the Buck-tail Regiment, playing cymbals in 1976 and 1977.

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Private funeral services held for Elmer “Red” Winzer, one of the first to introduce classical music to field shows.

Posted on September 15th, 2020 by Gail Langan

At the request of his family, private funeral services for Elmer ‘Red’ Winzer have been provided by Bell-Hennessy Funeral Home, Inc., 420 South Main St. in Williamstown, New Jersey.  He passed away Tuesday September 8 at age 80.  Those wishing to send flowers to the family or plant a tree in his memory should visit the Bell-Hennessy Tribute Store.  He was inducted into the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame in 2005.

In a career that began playing baritone horn as a charter member of Reading Buccaneers in 1957, his activities spanned more than 40 years as a topnotch horn player, music arranger, brass instructor, drill designer and instructor.  Between 1957 and 1973, he played baritone horn with Reading Buccaneers and the United States Air Force Drum and Bugle Corps.  He began instructing and arranging for the Buccaneers’ horn line in 1972.

He was one of the first music arrangers to adapt classical music to field show routines.  His arrangement of Morton Gould’s “American Salute” (adapted from the Civil War era tune “When Johnny Comes Marching Home”) was a highlight of the field show when Blue Rock of Wilmington, Delaware won both the final Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) national championship and the U.S. Open in 1971.  Other notable arrangements include Verdi’s “Requiem,” Stravinski’s “Firebird Suite” and Shostakovich’s “Fifth Symphony.”

Between 1967 and the mid 1990s, he was either the music arranger, brass instructor or brass caption head for many top ranked corps on the eastern seaboard, including junior corps Blue Rock and Haddonfield Royaleers of New Jersey and several senior corps including Emmaus Sentinels, Reading Buccaneers, Baltimore Yankee Rebels, Archer-Epler Musketeers.  He was also brass caption head for Yankee Rebels Alumni and Reading Buccaneers Alumni.  He judged all music captions for the Mid Atlantic Association, Drum Corps Associates (DCA), Drum Corps International (DCI), and the National Judges Association.

A 1958 graduate of Emmaus High School, he held music degrees from West Chester University and was a Doctor of Music Arts candidate at Temple University.  He served as the supervisor of music for the Souderton Area School District and was the principal bassist with the Delaware County Symphony and Mainline Symphony Orchestra.

He is survived by beloved companion Kumiko Murashima, children Kristen Chocheli, Melanie Winzer, Brennan Winzer and two grandchildren.

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Memorial service for associate member Tom Wilbur planned for September 26at Legion Post 199 in Hawthorne postponed because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Posted on September 14th, 2020 by Gail Langan

A memorial service for associate member Tom Wilbur, inducted in 2002, originally scheduled to be held Saturday, September 26 at American Legion Post 199 in Hawthorne, New Jersey has been postponed because of COVID-19 restrictions.  A new date has yet to be confirmed.

He passed away August 31 of pancreatic disease and is survived by his wife Nancy, son Brian and his wife Brenda and grandchildren Austin and Evelyn.

Tom Wilbur began his drum corps activity 1960, when he first played baritone horn with Dumont Police Cadets.  In the following years, he was a member of Fair Lawn Police Cadets, Blessed Sacrament Golden Knights, New York Skyliners and Hawthorne Caballeros.

He competed in winter color guard contests with Dumont Cadets in 1963-1964 and Fair Lawn Cadets in 1965.  He played contra bass with the Golden Knights in the winter of 1965-1966 before being drafted into United States Army Intelligence.  He returned to drum corps life in 1968, playing baritone with Skyliners.

In the 20 years after joining the Cabs in 1975, he marched in the color guard, played contra bass, helped as equipment manager, then marched in the honor guard, serving as captain from 2005 to 2007.  He also marched in the honor guard as a member of the Summer Music Games All Star Drum and Bugle Corps in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in New York City.

He played contra bass as a charter member of the Hawthorne alumni corps from 1994 to 2007, serving as color guard instructor and drill technician.  He also played contra bass with St. Lucy’s Alumni Corps in 1996.

He was a member of Hawthorne Caballeros Alumni Chorus. He served as president of the Hawthorne Alumni Association beginning in 2000, after serving as vice president for five years.  He also served on the executive committee of the alumni corps, the advisory and fund raising committees of the competing corps, and was Hawthorne’s Grand Prix contest program book chairman.  He served as vice commander of Hawthorne American Legion Post 199.

He was a member of the New Jersey Drum Corps Hall of Fame.

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Passing of Member Norm Peth

Posted on July 20th, 2020 by Dan Rippon

Norm Peth, one of the most admired and influential drum instructors in the four decades following World War II passed away Friday, July 10 at age 95.

A member of the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame since his induction in 1997, he was also certified as a master drummer by the International Association of Traditional Drummers (IATD). He was the first recipient of the IATD’s John Sterling Pratt Prestige Award, bestowed earlier this year on January 13, 2020.

John Pratt, a prolific percussion composer and a former student Norm Peth, also passed away earlier this year.

Norm Peth’s performances ranged from theatre and club stages to the drum corps contest field. Many of his students became top musicians performing around the world from Las Vegas to Singapore. He played drums professionally with the Jerry Wald Orchestra and many other groups during the Big Band era, working for and with many of the great jazz drummers of the day. Over the years, he was involved with 114 different music groups ranging from street parade corps to big field competition drum and bugle corps.

A list of his students is a virtual “who’s who” of high achievers in drumming. In addition to teaching drum and bugle corps percussion sections, he had students that later played with and taught the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and West Point Hellcats drum lines. Other students became high school and college teachers and professional drummers.

Some of his students went on to become members or instructors of such well-known drum and bugle corps as the Seneca Chiefs, Rochester Grey Knights, Tri-County Incorporated, Geneva Appleknockers, Syracuse Brigadiers, Interstatesmen.

He made contributions in every area of drum and bugle corps activity: playing, instructing, organizing and adjudicating, mainly in western New York. He was a judge for the All American Drum and Bugle Corps and Band Association, more commonly known as “The All American,” who judged many American Legion events as well as New York/Canadian Association contests and the New York/Canadian Individuals

He became widely known in the late 1940s as the drum instructor for the Seneca Chiefs Senior Drum and Bugle Corps of Seneca Falls, New York. Under his instruction, the Seneca Chiefs drum quartet won the New York/Canadian ensemble championship for three straight years, from 1963 through 1965.

He retired from drum corps activity more than 30 years ago, moving from western New York to enjoy the sunny climate of Florida. During his retirement he continued to play with various nightclub groups and, occasionally, live theatre bands.

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Passing of Associate Member Bob “Wags” Wagner

Posted on June 7th, 2020 by Dan Rippon

Charter Hall of Fame charter associate member Bob Wagner passes at age 83

Wilbert Robert “Wags” Wagner, III of Manchester, Maryland, inducted in 2001 as a charter member in the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame Associate Member category, passed away recently at age 83. His long career in drum and bugle corps activity began in 1943 and extended more than 60 years well into the alumni drum corps era and the turn of the century.

Along the way, his teachers with various competitive and alumni drum corps included some of the best-known arrangers and instructors in the activity, many of them now also members of the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame.

He became a member, and eventually president, of the Yankee Rebels Alumni Drum and Bugle Corps in 1988, playing soprano and mellophone under the direction at various times of Ray Eyler, Ray Fallon, Truman Crawford, Jamie Bennett and Larry Kerchner. From 1991 to 2000, he played soprano horn with Archer-Epler Musketeers Alumni, with instructor Ray Fallon.

Beginning in 1994, he played mellophone with Reilly Raiders Alumni, taught by Bob Adair, Larry Kerchner and Bill Pusszi. From 1996 to 1999, he played mellophone for New York Skyliners Alumni, under Bucky Swan. He played mellophone with Hawthorne Caballeros Alumni beginning in 2003 and Music Express in 2004, under Larry Kerchner.

He first marched, at age seven, in 1943, continuing non-stop with several top competitive east coast corps until 1969.

From 1943 to 1949, he played drums under Joe Soistman and bugle under William S. Hart at P.S. School 83 in Baltimore. From 1945 to 1949, he also played bugle with instructor Webb Rice for Tall Cedars Junior Drum and Bugle Corps. He played bugle with St. Michael’s from 1949 to 1951. For the next four years, he was a bugler with Kenwood Cadets and Kenwood Cavaliers.

From 1955 to 1957, he played with Baltimore’s Hamilton Post 20, with Bill Rennie, Skip Groff and Truman Crawford as instructors. Bobby Adair was his instructor with Reilly Raiders from 1957 to 1960. He played with New York Skyliners in 1960 and 1961, when Hy Dreitzer was the instructor. He spent his final years of competition, from 1961 to 1969, marching with Baltimore’s Yankee Rebels, with instructors Skip Groff and Truman Crawford.

A graduate of Johns Hopkins University, he retired from Dow Chemical Company in 2000. He had served in the Maryland National Guard. He is survived by his wife Arleen, daughters Stephanie Brewster (Bill) and Cynthia Barbe and two grandchildren.

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WORLD DRUM CORPS HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 2020

Posted on May 6th, 2020 by Dan Rippon

Thank you to all who participated in voting for the Class of 2020 as well as the screening and selection committees.  Your vote was recorded and an outstanding Class of 2020 was selected.  Voting results have not been announced at this time and will remain confidential.  We are all painfully aware, as a result of the pandemic, the entire drum corps season has been canceled.  This of course includes the Annual World Drum Corps Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.

The Executive Committee has determined the Class of 2020 will become the Class of 2021 (there will be no class of 2020).  In the spring of 2021 members of the Class of 2021 will be individually notified followed by a public announcement.  There will be no voting in 2021.  Nominations will continue to be accepted and processed in preparation for 2022 voting .  While there were many options to handle the current situation, the Executive Committee agreed the adopted procedure will afford the newly elected members a complete and undiminished experience.

Richard Templin
President WDCHOF

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Passing of member Jack Pratt

Posted on April 12th, 2020 by Dan Rippon

Most prolific drum corps percussion writer Jack Pratt passed away April 6

John S. “Jack” Pratt, one of the most prolific percussion writers in the drum and bugle corps community, passed away early Monday, April 6 2020 from advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease. He had also undergone triple-bypass heart surgery in December 2000.

Because of the effects of the current corona virus pandemic, family members are not certain when a memorial mass or funeral can be held. He was born on January 13, 1931 in Seneca Falls, New York.

He was inducted into the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame in 1990. He was also a member of the Percussive Arts Society (PAS) Hall of Fame and an honorary member of Canadian Associates Drumming Rudimental Excellence (CADRE).

While still in high school in the late 1940s, he marched beside Hall of Fame drum instructor Norm Peth in the Geneva Appleknockers’ big drum line including four snares, four tenors, two bass drums and two cymbals. After graduating from high school, he enlisted in the Army.

He began serving as rudimental drum instructor of field music with the U.S. Military Academy band at West Point in 1959, retiring in 1969 after a 20-year military career. He was one of the first to urge the use of large drum lines, paving the way to modern percussion sections of 30 or more members that began to appear on the contest field by the late 1960s. As an exponent of large drum lines, he urged that the level of difficulty not be reduced and that various performance factors not be sacrificed.

In the late 1950s, he submitted a large instruction book to various publishers. Belwin Inc., a New York publishing firm, asked him to divide it into three separate books, which became 14 Modern Contest Solos, Ancient Rudimental Snare and Bass Drum Solos, and 128 Rudimental Street Beats. About a year later, Belwin published another book: 26 Standard American Drum Rudiments and their variations. Over the following 50-plus years he wrote hundreds of drum solos and many other books.

He taught the Interstatesmen in the 1960s, when he introduced the rudimental bass drum to the drum corps community, as part of his unique concept of percussion voicing. “He expanded the horizon of rudimental drumming by extending rudiments over the barline and using deceptive cadences”, said Robin Engelman, a fellow PAS Hall of Fame member. “The swing and musicality of his solos changed the course of rudimental writing and performance.”

He was associated with a number of other corps, including Geneva Appleknockers, Troop 12 Indians, Kingsmen, Lakers, Criterions, Hawthorne Caballeros, King’s Regiment, Doremus Post, Crimson Kings Tri-County Cavaliers, Rochester Grey Knights, Ambassadors. During his ten years with the Caballeros, the corps won three American Legion Championships, in 1974, 1975 and 1980, and Drum Corps Associates (DCA) Championships in 1972, 1973, 1974 and 1976.

He began to judge drum and bugle corps contests in the late 1950s, serving as an adjudicator for the New York chapter of the All American Drum and Bugle Corps and Band Association and also with the New Jersey chapter of the Metropolitan All-American Association.

During his military career, he went to college at night and received an Associate in Arts degree from Orange County Community College in Middletown, New York. He then transferred his credits to Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, New Jersey and graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English. He began a second career as an English teacher at Hackensack High School in New Jersey, which lasted for 25 years until he retired in 1995.

In addition to writing hundreds of drum solos, he was a published poet, the author of an acclaimed thesis on the poetry of John Keats and enthusiastic promoter of the art of rudimental drumming,

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Funeral service for Member Bill Hayes

Posted on February 16th, 2020 by Dan Rippon

Funeral services for World Drum Corps Hall of Fame (WDCHoF) member Bill Hayes were held on Tuesday, February 18 at 1 pm at Tilghman Funeral Home, 52 Main Street, New Egypt, New Jersey, with burial following in Brigadier General William C. Doyle Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Arneytown.

Memorial donations can be made to the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame, attention Richard Warga, 1 Walnut Drive, Pine Brook, New Jersey 07058.

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Passing of Member Bill Hayes

Posted on February 16th, 2020 by Dan Rippon

Born in Bayonne, New Jersey in 1925, Bill Hayes passed away at age 94 at Brookdale of Hamilton senior living center peacefully on February 10, 2020 with his family by his side. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1991, in recognition of his outstanding achievements with several of the best-known corps of the day. He was also a member of the New Jersey Drum Corps Hall of Fame, inducted in 1998.

After distinguished service during World War II, he returned to school, graduating from the School of American Music in New York in 1947. His devotion to music as a trumpet player and instructor led him to work with many top-ranked drum and bugle corps, including Hawthorne Caballeros, New York Skyliners, St. Catharine’s of Sienna Queensmen and Florida Vanguard of Miami. He served as the music and drill instructor of the Blessed Sacrament Golden Knights of Newark, helping them win four national championships,

He was first affiliated with the Sal MacKenzie Post corps. He also judged marching and manoeuvring, horns and music for several judging associations. While playing for the Caballeros, he was widely admired and recognized for his soprano solo in “Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White.”

While a member of the Army Air Corps serving in World War II as a ball turret gunner with the 459th bomb group stationed in Cerignola, Italy, he was a recipient of four Bronze Stars, the Good Conduct Medal, and an Air Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster. He was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and American Legion of Barnegat Post 232.

He moved to Florida in 1960, serving with the Hollywood Fire Department for 10 years while also working as a lifeguard and for the local Emergency Medical Service. After receiving his Bachelor’s Degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University and Master’s Degree in Education from New York University, he taught math and social studies at Village Middle School in Closter New Jersey for 19 years.

He was predeceased by Mary, his wife of 60 years, and by son Michael P. Hayes. He is survived by a daughter, Maureen Kelly and Don of Hamilton; two grandsons, Ryan A. Kelly and Matthew P. Kelly, both of Hamilton and several nieces and nephews.

Regular World Drum Corps Hall of Fame members are honored for their dedication, contributions and achievements over a long period of time in categories 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. Special membership categories include inductees honored for Distinguished Professional Achievement and individuals receiving the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

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