Neal Smith begins his term as president

Posted on December 22nd, 2021 by Gail Langan

Neal Smith, of Canton, Massachusetts is the new president of the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame (WDCHoF).  Outgoing president Rich Templin announced Smith’s appointment during the annual banquet and induction ceremony held in late November in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.  Templin, of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania had served as president since September 2013.

Smith became a member of the Hall of Fame in 2008, following extensive involvement in drum and bugle corps activities including, performing, visual design and judging over several decades.

His design innovations helped change the look of field shows. His visual design talents helped North Star, formed by the amalgamation of the Reveries, of Revere, Massachusetts, Blue Angels of Danvers and Beverly Cardinals, become a Drum Corps International (DCI) finalist in their third year of competition.  The 11-member snare line of North Star, from the North Shore of Massachusetts, was widely recognized as the ‘Chrome Wall,’ named for the chrome finish on the drums.

He created the field show design for Connecticut Hurricanes in 1981, winning all visual captions at the Drum Corps Associates (DCA) championships.  The following year, the Hurricanes won high visual at the DCA championships.

In the 20 years following his first design for North Star in 1976, he was visual designer for many other top-rated corps in the northeast, including 21st Lancers, Rockland Defenders, Boston Crusaders, Connecticut Hurricanes, Rhode Island Matadors and Hawthorne Caballeros.  

He performed with Boston Crusaders from 1961 to 1971 as soprano soloist and drum major.  He was a Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) national champion four times: three times as a performer and once as designer.

He has also served as a visual judge for four organizations: Drum Corps Associates (DCA), Massachusetts Judges Association, New England Scholastic Band Association, United States Scholastic Band Association.

His brother Anthony Smith was inducted into the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame in 2012.

Other current officers on the Hall of Fame board include: Vice President: Bob Findley; Administrator: Larry Hershman; Secretary: Bob Cardaneo; Treasurer: Rich Warga; Membership Chairman: Rick Morey; Public Relations: Roy Wilson; Merchandising Chairman: Roman Blenski; Program Committee/Chaplain: Bill McGrath; Webmaster: Gail Langan; Distinguished Professional Achievement Award: Joe Marrella; Associate Membership: Bob Bradley; Scholarship Fund: Rick Anderson.

The late Vince Bruni of Rochester, New York, who passed away on the Friday evening of the DCA championship tournament weekend in 2003, founded the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame in 1976.  Membership has since grown from six charter members – Vince Bruni, George Bull, Jim Costello, Henry “Lefty” Mayer, Harvey Olderman, Vinnie Ratford – to more than 550 members who have contributed to the activity across North America, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, the Middle East, South Africa and Japan.

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Service and Internment for Eric Landis to Take Place December 22

Posted on December 19th, 2021 by Gail Langan

Visitation and funeral services for Eric Landis are scheduled for the morning of December 22 at Healey Funeral Home, 9 White Horse Pike in Haddon Heights, New Jersey.  He passed away December 15 at the age of 78 after a brief illness.  Internment following the service is at New St. Mary’s Cemetery in Bellmawr.

The funeral celebration will be video recorded for viewing by those not able to attend in person. 

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2003, Eric Landis began his many years of drum corps and bugle corps activity playing snare drum with the York White Roses in York, Pennsylvania.  He played with the United States Air Force drum and bugle corps from 1961 to 1964, and over the next 20 years performed for such well-known groups as Reading Buccaneers, Bangor Yellow Jackets, and Archer-Epler Musketeers.

He was also drum instructor for a number of corps from 1961 to 1984, including Audubon Bon Bons all girl corps, Chessmen, Crossmen, Garfield Cadets and Archer-Epler.

He was a percussion judge for almost 30 years, from 1970 to 1999, for Drum Corps International (DCI), Drum Corps Associates (DCA) and the National Judges Association.  In the following years, he instructed many championship high school percussion sections.

He is survived by Julia, his wife of 56 years; four children: Jeanne Sykes and her husband Weldon, Adam Landis and his wife Jennifer, Susan Eley and her husband Benjamin and Sean Keegan-Landis and his wife Maggy; four siblings: Alec, Marc, Scott and Ione and seven grandchildren.  He was an active member of Trinity Lutheran Church of Runnemede, NJ.

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Three female university students each receive $500 scholarship

Posted on December 13th, 2021 by Gail Langan

The World Drum Corps Hall of Fame (WDCHoF) presented $500 scholarship awards to each of three recipients during the annual induction ceremony and banquet held recently in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

The three female winners, all currently studying in university, are Rebecca “Beca” Findley, Annika Hlywa and Julia Troy.  Two of the scholarship awards were funded by donations from two alumni corps.  Any associate or regular Hall of Fame member in good standing can recommend an applicant, who must be a current high school, college or university student or current active member of a drum and bugle corps.

Beca Findley is a senior at the University of Maine in the college of Education and Human Development, majoring in Kinesiology with a concentration in Exercise Science. She plans to graduate school next year then continue studies for a masters and/or doctorate in Occupational Therapy.  She is a member of the school softball team, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and American Sign Language Club.  In summer, she plays for the Stratford Brakettes softball team and helps coach local youth teams near her hometown of Seymour, Connecticut over summers and during school breaks.

Annika Hlywa, of Bluffton, South Carolina, is studying psychology, with concentration in forensics, at the University of New Haven.  She has an extensive music background, performing with the Crossmen drum and bugle corps and the University of New Haven Marching Band. 

Her scholarship was presented in memory of Donald Friesing, inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2001.  He first played drums with the Joseph B. Garrity Post American Legion in 1938.  By 1943 he was teaching others to drum, and over the following 50 years produced many of the most accomplished percussion players in the drum corps community.  He drummed for eight years with the Raymond A. Gabarina Post (Skyliners).  He was a participant in the founding meeting for the organization of Drum Corps Associates (DCA)

Julia Troy, of Levittown, New York, is currently a freshman at Binghamton University who will be attending Hofstra University in the spring.  Her current major is Biology on the Pre-Med track. After receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Biology she plans to continue on to Physician Assistant (PA) School, a two/three year program leading to a Master’s degree in PA Studies.  She is currently a member of the Wishmaker’s Club, Paws and Effects Club and American Red Cross Club. At home, she works at a bakery and babysits children for multiple families. 

Her scholarship was presented in memory of Richard “Butch” Anderson, inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992 and best remembered as the flamboyant drum major of the New York Skyliners throughout the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s.  He joined Skyliners in 1970, as a soprano player. He was also a solo soprano player, horn instructor and show co-ordinator with Skyliners.  He also marched as drum major with both the Marksmen and Syracuse Brigadiers.

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Celebration of life to come soon for Art Mura, whose connection to Holy Name Cadets began in 1937 at age eight

Posted on November 11th, 2021 by Gail Langan

A celebration of life will be held in the near future for Art Mura, who passed away November 5, 2021.   

His brother Al was already a member, inducted in 1989, when Art was inducted into the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame in 2002.  He had been elected to the New Jersey Drum Corps Hall of Fame a year earlier and was named to the Cadets Hall of Fame in 2010.  

His lifelong connection with one of the best-known and highly regarded drum and bugle corps in North America, began at age eight in 1937 when he joined the Holy Name Cadets, later to become the Garfield Cadets. 

The Mura family lived in Garfield, New Jersey around the corner from Most Holy Name Catholic Church, so interaction with the drum and bugle corps was an everyday occurrence.  Three family members, Al, Charles and Marc were founding members of the corps, with Art and two other brothers Edward and Louis joining soon after.

He was a junior drum major for three years before playing bugle for one year.  In 1942, he moved to the percussion section as a snare drummer, performing through 1949.  During 12 years with the Cadets, the corps won its first three national championships: in 1940, 1948 and 1949.  He also won the Bergen County and New Jersey State individual snare drumming titles in 1946 and 1947 and was runner-up in 1948 and 1949.

After his discharge from the U.S. Army in 1953, he joined the Hawthorne Caballeros snare line.  The Caballeros won the American Legion senior national title that year, while the Cadets won the junior title.

For more than 20 years he was a rudimental drum instructor to junior corps including the Garfield Cadet Plebes, Paterson Cadets, Dumont Police Cadets, St. Ann’s Cadets, Wood Ridge Townsmen, and the Hawthorne Muchachos.  
He served as a percussion judge with the Charles R. Nabor Eastern States Judges Association, the Mid-Atlantic and the Drum Corps Associates (DCA) judges associations from 1958 through 1982.

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Charter associate member Bob Bond passes away at age 80 after decades of contribution to drum corps activity on both sides of border

Posted on November 11th, 2021 by Gail Langan

Charter associate member Bob Bond, one of the initial class of associates inducted in 2001, passed away November 4 at age 80.  He had been active in drum and bugle corps operations on both sides of the Canada/United States border for more than half a century, serving in various performing, instructing, judging and administration positions with junior and senior competing corps and alumni corps.  He was born in Toronto and later lived for many years in the Rochester area.

A celebration of his life will be announced at a later time.  Drum corps was a full family commitment.  His late wife Diana, an associate member inducted in 2002, also served as a performer, instructor and administrator for corps in Ontario and New York state beginning as a member of the colour guard in the Alpine Girls drum and bugle corps in Rochester.  Two sons and a daughter marched with Garfield Cadets and Phantom Regiment. 

Bob Bond first became involved in drum and bugle corps activity in the 1950s, beginning as a bugler in the Westhill Lions Club drum corps in Toronto.

He was a member of such top Canadian corps as Preston Scout House, Toronto Optimists, Jolly Jesters and Canadian Commanders.  He also played soprano horn with New York Skyliners for three years before serving as business manager and drill manager of the Peterborough Crescendos. He was also the drill writer and drum major of Kawartha Kavaliers in the Peterborough area.

Moving back to New York state in 1979, he became director of the Greece Shoreliners in the Rochester area, and director of the Greece Cadets. He was a playing member and sometimes drum major for the Skyliners and Hawthorne Caballeros.  He was a member of the administrative staff when the Empire Statesmen were founded by Vince Bruni in 1983.  He also served on the administration staff again from 1999 to 2004.

He marched as drum major of Mighty St. Joe’s alumni corps during two separate periods. From 1981 to ‘89, he was a marching and maneuvering judge and consultant.

Predeceased by his wife and brother Barry he is survived by his brother Nelson (Marie) Bond, sons Kevin (Laney) Bond, Robert (Wendy) Bond, Jr., daughter Denise (Andrew) MacKinnon, three grandsons and two step-grandsons.

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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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