Summer in the United States offers many unique opportunities for music lovers to enjoy the weather while seeing a favorite group or hearing an entirely new genre. One such genre is a lesser-known but inarguably entertaining tradition. It is a gathering of musicians, dancers, and other performers, all between the ages of 14 and 21. They play at a professional level, bringing to their audiences some of the most challenging music and breathtaking choreography this country has to offer. They are none other than Drum Corps International: Marching Music’s Major League.
An Open Atmosphere:
Most people experience music in the concert hall, especially large brass or percussion. And most people experience expert choreography on a stage in a dance hall. But a DCI summer show brings both to the open air, presenting an experience very few have had before. Most of these shows are held in stadiums or performed on college or high school football fields, giving audiences the chance to enjoy the summer weather while also seeing some of the most amazing performances they will witness in their lifetime. Listen while each drum corps fills up the stadium and literally shakes the bleachers as they play.
But the stadium is only part of the experience. Before each show, the participating drum and bugle corps go off to warm up in the parking lots. This gives attendees the opportunity to see the inner workings of how these groups prepare for their demanding performances. Brass and percussion warm-up arcs can offer a lot of educational and helpful techniques for both students and teachers. Watching a color guard spin together with flags, sabers, and rifles while practicing their choreography is a rare chance to see some amazing art. In short, you may never see anything quite like a DCI show again.
Comfort in the Familiar:
Concertgoers can expect at some point to hear familiar repertoire. The music and shows these corps produce are truly extraordinary: from pop artists like Billy Joel, The Rolling Stones, and Radiohead to jazz from the likes of Pat Metheny, Chick Corea and Louis Armstrong to the classical works of Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, and Stravinsky; even Broadway shows like The Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon, and West Side Story – all have been arranged and performed on the field by DCI. Some adventurous corps have even mixed and matched a number of genres to create amazing shows and themes that take audiences on a journey none has ever traveled before.
Of course, patriotic music is always in the repertoire of these drum corps. After all, most of them started in the military or in VFW halls. Some of the most stirring renditions of the National Anthem, America, and God Bless America ever played were arranged by
drum corps. Though these arrangements may come from familiar places, each DCI performance is truly one of a kind.
One of the things that makes DCI shows so special is the ever-changing members, staff, writers, and choreographers. A show that is written and performed in 2015 by a particular group will never be performed again as written after that summer; and that group will never perform together again after the DCI World Championships in Indianapolis. That said, don’t miss out if the DCI summer show comes to your town. For more information and a full schedule of events, go to www.dci.org. If DCI trucks roll into your neighborhood, put down the iPad, turn off the TV, and get outside and enjoy a spectacular show of sight and sound.