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Event Preview: Summer Music Games drawing 7 top corps

Sunday, July 30, 2000

By Ken Mrazik, Post-Gazette Sports Writer

The Blue Devils. The Cadets. The Phantom Regiment.

Three Rivers
Summer Music Games

Where: Baldwin High School's Cibik Stadium.

When: 7 p.m. tomorrow.

Tickets: $14 and $16; available at the gate or by calling 412-207-7730.


Those names might not mean much to some people, but ask any enthusiast of drum and bugle corps events about them, and the recognition is immediate.

The three corps are among the cream of the Drum Corps International crop. They will be among the seven corps competing at the Three Rivers Summer Music Games at 7 p.m. tomorrow at Baldwin High School's Cibik Stadium.

The Blue Devils of Concord, Calif., have won a record 10 World Championships, including last year, when they tied the Santa Clara Vanguard for first place at the DCI finals at Madison, Wis. The corps has placed in the top five every year since 1975.

Equally impressive are the accomplishments of the Cadets of Bergenfield, N.J., which set new standards for marching with their fast-paced and extremely difficult drill designs. The Cadets have won seven DCI titles, most recently in 1998.

Phantom Regiment of Rockford, Ill., tied the Blue Devils for the 1996 DCI championship and has consistently placed among the top 10 at finals.

"This is a showcase of what DCI has to offer," said Bill Drescher, president of the Baldwin Music Patrons, host of the competition. "It's a big draw. We have people coming from Canada, Florida and Georgia."

Four other well-known and popular corps also will be at the competition: the Boston Crusaders; the Bluecoats of Canton, Ohio; Spirit of Atlanta; and the Troopers of Casper, Wyo.

Those attending can expect to see and hear a wide variety of entertainment and music.

Known for their powerful brass, the Blue Devils often try to blow fans out of their seats. This year's production of "Methods of Madness," featuring the music of Bernard Herrmann, has drawn rave reviews throughout the country. The corps also traveled extensively in Europe this month.

"They are an awesome group," said Gary McKeever, band director at Baldwin High School. "In addition to their power, you'll see very physical and innovative dancing from the corps' color guard."

The Cadets' show, "We Are the Future," includes music from Walt Disney World's "Millennium Celebration" and gives the corps the opportunity to show its versatility and skill with difficult brass licks. Typical for the Cadets, an exhilarating, amoebae-like drill carries through much of the show.

"They're more of a finesse corps, but they're still powerful and strong," McKeever said. "I'd say the Cadets' style is more of a serious contemporary."

Fans accustomed to Phantom Regiment's traditional all-black uniforms may not recognize the corps this year, when it will be adorned in white and tan, but the traditional symphonic pageantry the corps is known for remains.

Phantom Regiment's production of "Masters of the Mystique" includes Igor Stravinsky's "Petrouchka" and "The Rite of Spring," Claude Debussy's "Jeux" and Arnold Schoenberg's "Transfigured Night."

The Boston Crusaders surged into ninth place last year at the DCI finals, the highest the corps has placed in its 60-year history. The corps is even stronger this season and has the potential to upset one or two corps ranked ahead of them.

Boston's production of "Red" offers a colorful look at rhythm, romance and dance that uses the corps' colors of red and black. Listen for a mini-version of "Conquest," which has become the corps' trademark, worked smoothly into a repertoire of three movements -- "Intensity," "Passion" and "Fire."

The Bluecoats have combined the sound of big band and contemporary jazz in their show, titled "Threshold." It features Patrick Williams' "And on the Sixth Day" and "The Witch" and Claus Ogerman's ballad "Air Antique."

"We're really excited about this competition," McKeever said. "You can expect to see some of the best marching musical groups in the world. The Blue Devils and the Cadets have more national championships between them than anybody. The Bluecoats have many local ties, and the Troopers and Spirit of Atlanta always are fan favorites. This is one of the best shows to come to Pittsburgh in quite a while."

All of the corps at the competition are en route to the DCI World Championships Aug. 7-12 at College Park, Md. WQED will televise a taped broadcast of the top five corps from 7 to 10 a.m. on Aug. 13.

Earlier tomorrow, corps will be rehearsing at the following sites: Blue Devils at Steel Valley High School; Cadets at Baldwin High School; Phantom Regiment at Paynter Elementary School, Baldwin; Boston Crusaders at Harrison Middle School, Whitehall; Bluecoats at Elizabeth Forward High School; Spirit of Atlanta at Whitehall Elementary; and the Troopers at Belle Vernon Area High School.

At the conclusion of the competition, the Baldwin High School percussion line will play all of the corps onto the field for the Olympic-style retreat.

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