By John Lentz, Senior Music Director | FirstCom Music
It is the close of another summer signaling the end of many youth activities that occur all over the world. One of these is Drum Corps International (DCI). Thousands of youths, ages 14-21 spend their summer perfecting the marching and playing of music in a twelve-minute show to the delight of fans and supporters. These performers tour the nation for 53 days culminating at the DCI Championships at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN. This summer over 330,000 spectators paid to see 107 contests on the DCI Summer Tour.
DCI championship history has a long list of drum corps making their way to the finals having a good idea of where they will finish. Most of the time, the drum corps that has been scoring the highest throughout the summer wins the gold medal at season’s end. However, 2015 proved to be different in many ways. The summer started with The Blue Devils of Concord, CA winning their first nine contests to stretch their winning streak to 38 consecutive victories. On July 11 in Minneapolis, MN, The Cadets of Allentown, PA nosed out the Concord Express handing them their first defeat since August, 2013. The Cadets seemed poised to arrive in Indianapolis as the favorite until Carolina Crown of Fort Mill, SC started to rise in the standings. At the DCI Southeastern championship in Atlanta, GA, the Crown beat both The Blue Devils and The Cadets setting the stage for some interesting battles down the stretch. Carolina and The Blue Devils slugged it out with both corps winning contests against each other leading up to the championship.
The DCI championships consist of two elimination rounds and a final, championship round. Only the final round is counted for the championship. In the World Class Prelims, Carolina won easily over The Cadets. The Blue Devils had the unthinkable happen when they finished fourth due to a penalty. All of DCI was abuzz with this highly unusual penalty so late in the competition committed by the defending world champions. Semi-finals were the next day and Carolina won again, but this time The Blue Devils corrected their error and finished 0.15 points behind in second place. The drama for the championship had just intensified. Many of the 24,638 fans (a new DCI attendance record) at Lucas Oil Stadium felt like Carolina would win the title due to their victories in the prelims and semi-finals. This is what usually happens. However, The Blue Devils were still stinging from their fourth place finish in prelims and finished 1.025 points better than their semi-finals performance. Carolina Crown could only improve by 0.30 points. When the final scores were announced, The Blue Devils (97.650) had won the championship over Carolina Crown (97.075).
This was the first time The Blue Devils had ever come from behind to win a title. They had defended their 2014 championship by winning their DCI record setting 17th gold medal. Soprano co-section leader Elizabeth Lentz of The Blue Devils (daughter of FirstCom Senior Music Director John Lentz) said, “This one was even sweeter than last year. After prelims, there was a fire lit inside all of us and we knew what we needed to do. The staff and members continued to push for perfection in every rep and the drive of the corps took a new level. On finals night you could feel the energy throughout the corps and the performance was undeniable. We left everything on the field and we knew it was our best performance of the season. It was the perfect way to end my drum corps career and continue the tradition of Blue Devils excellence.”
Auditions for most drum corps for their 2016 squads begin in November. If you know a youth between the ages of 14-21 who loves performing marching music, encourage them to try out for one of the dozens of drum corps in DCI. Performing in drums crops builds musicianship, character, discipline, and memories that last a lifetime. No one is going to forget the extraordinary season of 2015 anytime soon.