Michael Carlson, DCW columnist
Off the Line
The hot, Midwest sun gives way to another evening as excited fans settle into the stadium. The drab, hard bleachers will be their home for the next few hours. On the field, a slight breeze stirs the gathered colorful costumes, flags and uniforms. Though a relief from the steamy summer evening, the breeze does little to distract the concentration of the musical force positioning themselves on the field. This team fused together by a single “can do” attitude is ready to explode into a vibrant collage of movement, rhythms and music.
The flash of a snappy salute triggers off an explosion of sights and sounds that distorts the spine with chills. The brass power of the first impact threatens to dislodge the stands from their weakening anchor bolts. There is only one way out. It’s a straight ahead, “give all ya got, make ‘em standup and cheer, make ‘em weep, leave ‘em in awe, take no prisoners” eleven minutes of awesome entertainment . . .
. . . Okay, okay, so the season hasn’t started yet, and yes, you are a witness to the sad sign of cabin fever in the frozen wastelands of Nevada. But hey, we are now only days away from the kickoff of another great summer. Oh, the smell of the valve oil and the roar of the crowd are just about upon us!
California division II/III corps will make a full-court press on the annual division II/III tour this summer. The Mandarins, Vanguard Cadets and Impulse will be joined by two additional Golden State corps on the trek to Madison. Alliance and Esperanza, both from San Diego, will make their first Midwest and DCI Championship appearances.
When it comes to its members, Quest Drum and Bugle Corps puts as much focus on developing tomorrow’s leaders as it does creating today’s quality performers.
A couple of years ago the corps’ executive director, Thomas Fisher, created an off-shoot of Quest called the Quest Explorers. The corps was designed not only to serve as a breeding ground for future performers for Quest, but also to serve as a medium for intensive training of future Quest instructors and administrators.
“We are very much focused on this part of our program,” says Fisher. “Our leadership project is developing extremely well and has grown to eight participants. (Each has) committed to leadership roles in our division III corps upon their age out . . . Of course, this is still four to five years away, which gives us plenty of room for growth and development as instructors, designers and administrators.”
The selection process is very selective, Fisher said. Once chosen to participate, the students are constantly evaluated on their technical ability and their progress in a leadership role.
Sporting brand new uniforms, the Quest Explorers will be attending shows throughout the Garden State Circuit this summer and competing in division IV.
As for Quest, “This year is a year of internal growth and a total restructure of our administrative and artistic staff,” explains Fisher. Some of the new members to the organization include: Chris Szabo (visual designer), Helen Lewis (visual caption head), Jack Mansager (front ensemble arranger and instructor), Donny Allen (brass arranger), Keith Markey (brass caption head and arranger) and Tish O’Shea (guard designer and instructor).
Fisher stated that the changes are all positive. And despite the corps’ smaller size this season, “They will be better prepared to perform, execute and enjoy their production.”
The corps has traditionally performed works that are rich in complexity and passion. Their 2002 production, however, features a more eclectic line up. “This musical style change was a by-product of the organizational change,” Fisher said. As part of the transformation, Fisher and his staff went to the corps members and asked them what music they liked and didn’t like. As a result, Quest will step off the line this summer with a new sound, a new look and a new attitude.
Fisher extends his youth involvement beyond Quest. As vice president of the Garden State Circuit, he carries the same passion for success as he does for his own corps.
he says with a sly grin. “The Garden State Circuit has created an associate membership