Chicago Royal Airs seek recruits, prepare for 2004 season

Royal Airs Alumni (Chicago, IL)
Photo by David Rice

The Chicago Royal Airs Drum and Bugle Corps, which marched as a reunion corps in 2002 and 2003, “will be back for more in 2004” and is actively recruiting new blood, said Director Jackie Lurye Borrelli.

The 2004 Chicago Royal Airs Senior Exhibition Drum and Bugle Corps has evolved into a melting pot of talented individuals who proudly represent more than 55 different corps and color guards. While much has changed over the past 30-odd years, certain things, such as the corps’ signature sound and allegiance to its “core” ideals of faith, honor and humility, remain constant.

Even membership requirements hearken back to another era. “While experience and talent are impressive, we tend to be more interested in a recruit’s enthusiasm, work ethic and level of commitment,” said James Angarola, president of the executive board, soprano soloist and a name long associated with the Chicago Royal Airs. “That’s what we’ve always been about.”

Angarola says that membership is open to any adult, age 21 and over, who possesses the willingness and physical ability to perform and participate in the revival and continuation of the Chicago Royal Airs’ signature style music and marching. By definition, a field performance by the Chicago Royal Airs is “military” in nature, and includes a flag presentation, precision marching and a “start and finish” line.

“We’d like to see an influx of recruits who marched with junior corps in the 1950s and 1960s,” added John C. Olker, chairman of the corps’ recruitment/retention committee, “as well those who recently aged out of junior corps and still want to march, but don’t have the time or finances to join a competitive senior corps. We’re committed to excellence and innovation through hard work, and are shooting for a membership of 175 men and women.”

The Chicago Royal Airs do not hold auditions, except for solo parts and the positions of drum major and color guard sergeant. A brief interview with the caption head will determine a member’s position placement within the corps, Angarola said.

Instruments and equipment for the 2004 season will be provided. There is a membership fee and members must purchase their own uniforms. Members hail from 12 states and Canada.

The Chicago Royal Airs offer a flexible rehearsal schedule, relatively low membership dues and a manageable summer performance schedule, Angarola said, not to mention an exciting new repertoire written and arranged by musical director/brass arranger John Zimny. In addition, former Chicago Royal Airs soprano soloist, Tom Devitt, has been hired as a brass instructor for the 2004 season.

“We are very excited about taking the corps’ signature-style music to the next level,” Borrelli said, “and showing our fans that we are a visionary corps grounded in and by our traditions.”

The proposed 2004 repertoire includes Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans?, Strike Up the Corps, Stars and Stripes, God Bless the Child and What Kind of Fool Am I? or Where Are You?

For more information, including times for and directions to rehearsal camps, please visit the Chicago Royal Airs’ Web site at For general recruitment information and membership applications, e-mail recruiter Larry Nelson at