A Tribute to Ralph Randall Pace
By Joe Marrella
We remember vividly those in our beloved drum corps activity who share their unique talent, dedication, creativity, and life philosophy, toward catapulting the activity and its performers to greater heights. Their greatness stands out in the manner with which they leave their mark and influence on each person who crossed their path. Ralph Pace is one such giant.
by Tom Lizotte
Where would drum corps be if Don Angelica were still alive?
I think Don would applaud the progress we have made in improving performance levels (he NEVER accepted substandard performance), but would be disappointed in the direction the activity has taken creatively and in terms of the state of judging.
He stood for great music. In the early ’80s the Cadets were doing things such as “Rocky Point Holiday” and Bernstein’s “Mass.” He supported that tack, and George Zingali’s work, because although in the formative stages, this approach was a major improvement and the activity’s future direction. If the visuals were a bit messy, the activity could not afford to lose the genius.
The Ever-Changing Face of “Excellence”
by George Oliviero
“Have We Abandoned Excellence?” was a question asked of American society and workers, in general, more than ten years ago, in an essay by Lance Morrow in Time magazine. The question is still relevant in society and is heard more and more in our activity. The story is that we are no longer as “clean” as we used to be. There is a longing for the good old days when we say precision and we knew, and the audience knew, that there were very few mistakes. How beautiful, how nostalgic: why did we ever get rid of the tick, which was the preeminent force to foster such precision?
by Jack Weir
The result was the same for all of us. The circumstances leading up to it differed in many cases but the effect never varied. We were stricken by the “Drum Corps Virus,” i.e. chills, goose bumps, and an insatiable thirst to be a part of the group.
The following is an excerpt from “The March on Massachusetts,” a history of Massachusetts Drum Corps from the mid 1920s to the present. It will be available in early ’97.
In the Beginning There Was a King
*In the beginning, there was a king and this king ruled over a young band of crusaders. They all went off to a great war and returned victorious, but not without having paid a great price. The king gathered his troops and they collectively became known as “Prince.”
The king was Arthur “Scotty” Chappell. His vision, creativity, compassion, inventiveness, and oh yes, talent, had the most profound impact on the direction that drum corps was to take, not just in Boston and Massachusetts, but indeed the entire world of the marching arts!
On Saturday evening, August 31, 1996, Mr. Al Saia was inducted into The World Drum Corps Hall of Fame, founded in 1976. This is a most prestigious honor, as Al joins fellow New England corpsmen Scotty Chapell, Dom Bianculli, Earl Sturtze, Vinnie Ratford, Pepe Notaro, Alan Smyth, Tom Long, Darcy Davis, Dominic Del Ra, Joe McNaught, Ray Samora, Jack Whelan, Duke Ducharme, Ed Trainer, Cliff Fisher, Jim Pinette, Gerry Shellmer, and Gil Silva.
Al’s drum corps career had its start with the Sacred Heart Crusaders of Malden in 1937 and a life-long relationship began with Arthur “Scotty” Chappell, and the corps’ spiritual director, Father Sheehan. He started out in the horn line, but early on the powers-to-be spotted something special and he was promoted to drum major.
Gerry wasn’t like the other drummers and instructors. Hell, he wasn’t like anyone you ever met before, a unique, creative, intense and driven genius. He now resides in Wilmington, Delaware and his current passion is sailing. He screams at the waves, the seagulls, the sails, the sun, and anything else that amuses him.
New England has had more than its share of innovators going back to Chappell in the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s and too many others to mention here, but along with Chappell and George Zingali, the visual giant, Gerry Shellmer changed the face of marching percussion for all time.
However checkered its history in winning championships may be, Massachusetts has traditionally featured many national contenders. From the late 1950s to the mid 1980s, this state had a formidable national presence that resulted in intense – often bitter – local rivalries.
In the 1950s, the nationally contending corps were I.C. Queensmen, Salem P.L.A.V., St. Thomas More, the Holy Trinity Cadets, Most Precious Blood Crusaders, and the Braintree Warriors, with Cambridge Caballeros, St. Kevin’s, Majestic Knights, and St. Rose Scarlet Lancers just reaching national maturity. (more…)
Dear Aunt Mildred,
You’re probably wondering why I sent this letter to you care of Masters of the Marching Arts. I happen to be a personal friend of your nephew, R.C., and he gave me the inside track on this new gig of yours and told me that you don’t get paid if there are no letters in an issue. Whereas this is the first issue, how could you be expected to have letters? He sure is one smart dude.
Anyway, my question is this: What is the story on the 27th Lancer Alumni Corps? I think they’re the greatest! I was a little disappointed this year to see them at the Lynn and Beverly shows and then to find out later that there was some kind of a rift – the drummers were mad at the buglers or vice versa? What gives?
By Gerry Shellmer
In my opinion, listening to a drum corps percussion section is as musically boring as a politician’s campaign speech. Imagine how interesting and musically rewarding a drum corps contest would be if the instrumentation were not limited to mere drums and cymbals. The contest would evolve into an enjoyable show and therefore a more saleable product which would realize more $$$ for the corps.
Honestly, consider the amount of musical orientation drummers receive who play in even the finer lines in the nation. Hopefully they will at least learn how to read music and play in time. They learn to play with precise execution – the snare drum, the tom tom, bass drum, cymbals and tympani. Whether or not they learn to play these instruments with the proper technique is in serious doubt.
Before a percussion student is accepted into any good music college, he must demonstrate a degree of proficiency on a keyboard mallet instrument, usually the marimba. Where does he get the training? Certainly not in the drum corps!!!