Earlier this month the Santa Clara Vanguard and Vanguard Cadets capped off a summer of travel with the Drum Corps International Championships in Indiana.
Vanguard Cadets, which won the Open Class division in 2008, 2013 and 2015, were ready to impress with its 2015 show, “On Cloud Nine,” with music by Harry Gregson-Williams (“Life” from “Prometheus”), Reinhold Heil, Johnny Klimek and Tom Tykwer (“The Girl with the Plums” from “Perfume”) and Henry Jackman (title track from “Big Hero 6”). The program, which was inspired by universally experienced moments of blissful happiness and celebrates feelings that arise from life’s journey, uplifting, defining and inspiring humanity, scored an 81.225 and was enough to win the championship.
“We nailed every single thing that we had and we gave it our all and it really paid off,” said Vanguard Cadets Drum Major Carl Huang.
“This is the fourth World Championship they’ve won in their class,” said Santa Clara Vanguard Chief Executive Officer Jeff Fiedler. “We’re definitely excited about that.” Fiedler added that the Cadets, which were also able to compete against the World Class corps, finished in 16th place, four spots out of making it to the final day of World Class competition.
Santa Clara Vanguard, however, did not fare nearly as well as the Vanguard Cadets, but the corps put together a groundbreaking performance with its 2015 program, “The Spark of Invention.” The show, which pieced together Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Invention in A Minor,” Amin Bhatia’s “Virus Attack,” Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley’s “Imagination” and John Corigliano’s “Piano Concerto,” was inspired by the spellbinding genius of Nikola Tesla and rocketed through a kaleidoscope of ideas, emotions and inventions that culminated in the literal lighting up of the Vanguard musicians and color guard – something that had never been done in competition.
“We lit up the whole corps,” said Fiedler. “The entire corps had lights – LED lights – somewhere on their body and at the end of the show we actually had fake Tesla coils – 14 of them – and we maneuvered them around in the show. At the end of the show we lit the show up and we lit the corps up … We kind of used Nikola Tesla as influence. That’s how we came up with the Tesla coils and they were good props. It was all battery powered. It was a great effect. It was probably the best effect of the year. People just went crazy over it.”
Vanguard also broke the mold by including a Theremin, an electric instrument the musician controls through hand movements, in its performance – yet another aspect of SCV’s show that had never been done in drum corps before.
“It’s going to impact marching band across the country,” said Fiedler. “People loved the show. It’s one of the fan favorites.”
Unfortunately, as good as Vanguard’s performance was, the corps finished fifth in the extremely competitive World Class division, scoring a 93.850 and finishing behind the Blue Devils (Concord, Calif.), Carolina Crown (Fort Mill, S.C.), Bluecoats (Canton, Ohio) and The Cadets (Allentown, Penn.).
Santa Clara Vanguard and Vanguard Cadets will begin auditions for Winter Guard in September. Visit www.scvanguard.org for more information.