If you hear drums in the distance this weekend, follow them and you will be in for a treat. 37 separate drum corps are invading Annapolis and Anne Arundel County and will be taking to 35 practice sites on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, honing their routines for the Drum Corps Associates (DCA) World Championships to be held at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium this weekend.
The extravaganza (no better word) will commence on Thursday night at City Dock in Annapolis at 5:00pm for a free demonstration. If you like what you hear, you can come out to the stadium on Friday evening at 5:00pm for another free demonstration featuring Individual and Ensemble demonstrations.
But this is all gearing up for the world championships which will take place on Saturday and Sunday. All performances on Saturday and Sunday require tickets.
Allen Buell is the Vice President of the Drum Corps Associates which is in its 49th year. He explained that this is the only organization in the world that allows all ages to participate. “We have folks as young as 16 and up to about 60.” Buell said that the regimen is difficult and on par with most athletes, so once you hit 60, it becomes impossible to keep up.
This year, the 37 units hail from all over the world–of course the United States; but also, Canada, and Germany. It is truly a “world championship.” When asked about which corps dominates, Buell was somewhat non-committal but did say that the Reading Buccaneers (last year’s champ) looks pretty good this year, but that the Minnesota Brass is nipping on their heels.
The teams have been practicing and competing since June for this grand finale and points accumulated through the summer determine their seeding in the competition. Each unit is given 17 minutes to enter the field, perform, and exit the field. The clock starts when the first toe crosses the end zone. Their routines must be at least 10 minutes long–so there is little room for error. But if there are any errors, the panel of seven judges will be there to spot them. Akin to the Olympics, the judges each have specific aspects of the performance to judge–visual, tonal, time, etc.
DCA expects more than 10,000 to attend the finals on Sunday. But Buell said that Saturday was the better deal. “If you see a corps and like them, you can come out on Saturday evening and see every corps in the competition in one evening.”
This is the second year that DCA has come to Annapolis and unfortunately they will not be returning next year. Rochester, NY won the bid for the next two years, and Philadelphia seems to be in the lead for the following bid at this point. “We love the town, unfortunately the Navy had a scheduling conflict so Annapolis was unable to participate in the bidding,” said Buell.
At the end of the day, there can be only one winner. After all of the teams have performed, there will be a march-on of sorts where they will take a victory lap and line up for the presentations. Each team will earn a plaque for their participation and the individuals in the top three teams will earn medals. The overall winner will be named the World Champion and receive a large trophy before putting on an encore performance for the crowd.
And after Labor Day, Allen Buell who is a former corpsman–no music, just rifles and sabers, will return to his day job as the Special Events Director at the George Eastman House: International Museum of Photography and Film.