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Top-notch drum corps ready to step out

Thursday, July 24, 2003

By Ken Mrazik Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Their stage is a football field. Their acts are 11 1/2 minutes of music, motion and energy that bring cheering crowds to their feet. The drama will be provided by two of the most successful drum and bugle corps of all time.

The nationally ranked Pioneer Drum & Bugle Corps from Milwaukee will compete Monday night in the Three Rivers Summer Music Games competition at Baldwin High School's Cibik Stadium.
Click photo for larger image.

Tickets, $18, $17 and $15, can be purchased at the gate or by calling 412-885-7900, ext. 6775, or by visiting

A showdown between the Cadets from Bergenfield, N.J., and the Santa Clara Vanguard from Santa Clara, Calif., will highlight the Three Rivers Summer Music Games competition at 7 p.m. Monday at Baldwin High School's Cibik Stadium.

The lineup also includes five other nationally ranked corps: the Boston Crusaders from Boston; the Crossmen from Bergenfield, N.J.; Southwind from Lexington, Ky.; the Troopers from Casper, Wyo.; and Pioneer from Milwaukee.

The corps are in the seventh week of a summer tour that concludes with the Drum Corps International World Championships Aug. 6-9 in Orlando, Fla.

The Cadets, celebrating their 70th season, will perform "Our Favorite Things," a show not just of past favorites of the Cadets, but also a tribute to some of their competitors.

After warming up with "My Favorite Things," the Cadets flow into "Fanfare and Allegro," which was performed by the Santa Clara Vanguard in 1972, 1973 and 1984. Next is "Malaguena," done by many corps but made legendary by the Madison Scouts and the Hawthorne Muchachos. The closer is "Rocky Point Holiday," which the Cadets performed in 1982 and 1983, the year they won their first of eight Drum Corps International championships.

At the other end of the spectrum is the Santa Clara Vanguard, known for its sophisticated and innovative style that has helped the corps win six Drum Corps International titles.

Their production, "Pathways," delivers a visual display that includes velocity and movement in various directions as the corps appears to march through virtual mazes.

This will be Santa Clara Vanguard's first Pittsburgh area appearance since the early 1980s at Butler and one fan, Murdeen Newton of North Huntingdon, is eagerly awaiting their return.

"I always think of Santa Clara as an older-style corps. The way they play their music still gives you the chills and I love their cymbals. You often think a cymbal line does nothing until you see what Santa Clara does. They are constantly in motion," said Newton, who was in the Finleyville Royal Crusaders' color guard from 1976-1978.

Although no local Division I drum corps exist, many from the area participate in the activity.

Among them are four members of Pioneer: Elizabeth Huff, a South Park High School graduate; Austin Osterhout from Beaver; Amanda Burton and her sister Susan from Waynesburg. In addition, Huff's mother, Jane, drives one of Pioneer's coach buses.

"It's going to be very nice to show our family and friends what we work so hard for all summer," Elizabeth Huff said.

Jason LaRosa, a 1999 Norwin High School graduate who is a snare drummer with the Cadets, said being in the corps has helped him learn about life. LaRosa attends Lincoln University.

"Being in the Cadets has helped me learn to work harder for what I want," LaRosa said. "You learn how to work as a team, because if you don't, everything falls apart."

Some other corps members from the area include the Crossmen's Patricia Plan, a South Allegheny graduate, and Rachael Bond, who attends Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Ken Mrazik can be reached at or 412-263-1725.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

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