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Stewart Stadium lit up Wednesday night as eight of the nation’s best drum and bugle corps convened to showcase their talent in a pre-competition exhibition for the community.
“Corps Encore”, an event hosted by Ascend Performance Arts, is the Utah stop for a variety of the nation’s junior drum corps on their way to the Drum Corps International World Championship. Though the competition held at Stewart Stadium does not count towards the competition for the championship, it does give the winning corps the right to brag until next year.
Many of the corps have been practicing daily since the end of May. Ken Adams, President of the Blue Knight Organization, has not only participated as a member of the board, but in his younger days was a participant in the drum corps. He noted the great effort the Blue Knights had made in their performance.
“It’s a pleasure to work with these kids,” Adams said. “They each have been giving their all every day and I am proud of how they have improved.”
Like many of the competitors in this competition, the Blue Knights traveled overnight from Boise just to be at this event.
“We travel at least 400 miles a night just to make events,” Adams said. “Some days it’s four hours of sleep and then out to practice the next day.”
C.J. Garcia, who has been a drum major for the Blue Knights for two years, loves performing at Weber State University.
“We had a really good performance in Boise last night,” Garcia said. “But we love performing here, it’s one of our favorite venues.” He added that the Blue Knights love Ogden because the people are so welcoming.
Some corps in the competition aren’t as big or well-funded. Impulse, a drum corps out of Buena Park, California was one of the smaller corps in the competition yet were equally as excited to perform here.
“We love Utah and performing here,” said Henry Sue, drum major for Impulse. “Though this is my first time here, the energy level of all who are participating is very high.”
On Wednesday night, the corps took the field and showcased what months of practice have led up to. The crowd of about 4,000 people cheered their loudest as each group performed. As the music played, musicians and color guard members danced in pattern to tell the story behind each song. With bright colors and great music, the crowd was taken away with each performance.
As the night moved on, the bigger corps took the field, and the routines became more and more elaborate. The crowd responded
with enthusiasm. One corps, the Santa Clara Vanguard, had a program entitled “Scheherazade”, and choreographed their entire routine with the theme of an ancient Arabian tale.
Most of the performers are between the ages of 17 to 22, and for a corps member, that means retirement comes at an early age. For those adults involved, they relish in the opportunity to help make a difference in the members’ lives.
Ray Santos, one of the directors for Impulse, loves the opportunity that drum corps gives the youth.
“It is amazing,” Santos said. “The youth come from many backgrounds, some not as positive as the others. The fact that we are able to take a kid from off the street and help him become something more, something greater, is something special.”