Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Drum Corps Captured Her Imagination and Changed Her Life

This article appeared in the August 9, 2008 edition of the Herald-Times, Bloomington, IN

There is a unique phenomenon rolling into my town very soon, in the form of large coach buses driving through our streets, brass music and percussive rhythms, and ensembles of 100+ sun-baked young people on local football fields repeating choreographed movements and musical passages, putting the finishing touches on the performances they have been working on since winter.

All these buses and young people will converge on Memorial Stadium for three days in August, the culmination of many hours of sweat, hard work, and pushing themselves further than they could possibly imagine. They will compete for the crown jewel of their activity: the Drum and Bugle Corps World Championship.

I was first introduced to Drum Corps in 1979, the summer before my seventh grade year, at the Drum Corps Midwest Championships in Whitewater Wisconsin. I will never forget the feeling that swept over me when my family and I entered Warhawk stadium. A corps by the name of The Troopers from Casper, Wyoming was on the field, and they produced a brass sound so rich, so bright, and so LOUD, that it raised the hair on my arms. When we found our seats I was treated to a visual delight as well. Their show was based on a civil war theme, which befitted their uniforms, and I remember their color guard forming a circle around the flag and saluting. I was captivated by this focal point and how it created a climax of the performance. I was sold on drum corps from the very start.

Back at home, I listened to homemade recordings of the shows and memorized each corps’ repertoire. This educated me about classical, jazz, broadway, and contemporary music. I watched video tapes of the performances and taught myself the choreography, learning the beauty of how movement and music can intertwine.

I auditioned for the Bloomington-based Star of Indiana in 1986. As a member of the color guard, it was thrilling to perform to this electricity. It energized me and allowed me to persist for many days of 12, sometimes 16-hour practice sessions. I was in the best physical shape of my entire life. I learned valuable lessons from our talented staff, especially George Zingali, our visual designer. His passion for the activity was contagious. He taught me to approach each performance as if it were my last, to put my heart and soul into it, and to consistently put forth my best effort. His fast evolving, curvilinear designs on the field revolutionized the activity from the military formations to the artistic realms it explores today. These shows are full of tension and release, subtlety and climax – a hallmark of this activity that has entertained audiences since the beginning.

So the Drum Corps are coming to town! Be ready! Enjoy this special opportunity to experience this unique performance art form. The Troopers will be here – in fact, they are celebrating their 50th anniversary season this year.

Our family returned to Whitewater for several summers. I remember walking through the souvenir stand area behind the stadium one year, telling myself, “Someday I will marry someone that knows and loves drum corps.” This was more prophetic that I could have imagined: my husband Trent knows and loves drum corps. We met in 1986 as fellow corps members.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Heart in the Sky

Yesterday while Olivia and I were driving through the parking lot at the mall, she spotted this heart shaped cloud. It was a puffy fluffy cottony heart right there in the blue sky. Its shape was changing quickly - shortly after I snapped this image with my cell phone it had evolved into something more abstract. I was happy she spotted it when she did. Reminds me of the painter on public television who painted "happy clouds." Remember him? What was his name? Jim-something? If anyone knows, please post a comment.

A safe and happy 4th of July to everyone!