Bluecoats Alumni Corps sets the stage for Rhythm IN BLUE reboot



Hundreds of alumni of Canton, Ohio’s Bluecoats made a memorable splash at the 2022 DCI World Championship Semifinals — performing with the Bluecoats 50th Anniversary Alumni Corps.

But Bluecoats alumni had been performing together long before the summer of 2022.

A past participant in Drum Corps International’s SoundSport program, Bluecoats’ alumni-focused Rhythm IN BLUE has, for a number of years, entertained fans across the DCI Summer Tour.

Capitalizing on their SoundSport experience in addition to the success and widespread reach of their 2022 alumni corps, the Bluecoats are taking the opportunity to reboot their Rhythm IN BLUE ensemble, opening the doors to the group to any and all performers 18 years or older starting in 2023.

The ultimate aim is to provide the “Bluecoats Experience” at a lesser time commitment and lower barrier to entry for participants.

“SoundSport fills a unique niche in the marching arts community,” said Rhythm IN BLUE education coordinator Rachel Spencer. “We can have a student-centered and performance-based approach, without the costs of a full touring drum corps model.”

For the 2023 SoundSport relaunch of Rhythm IN BLUE, the group will be working on a six-minute show remotely throughout the winter and spring. It’s an educational process the group fine tuned as part of last summer’s alumni corps. In all, the group has plans to meet just four weekends over the summer, with seven performance opportunities on their 2023 schedule. It will conclude with DCI’s SoundSport International Music & Food Festival in Indianapolis, August 12.


For that six-minute production, director Jay Wise says that Rhythm IN BLUE is looking forward to “branching out and investigating the SoundSport genre.” With the influence of Bluecoats’ accomplished designers, Wise said that Rhythm IN BLUE’s productions will carry a similar style and tone to the World Class corps’ programming.

“It’s got to be cool,” he said. “And it’s got to be good. So, that’s what we’re trying to aim to do. You look at our product, whatever it will be, and go, ‘Oh, that’s totally the Bluecoats, but I’ve never seen the Bluecoats like that.”

An added bonus, the all-inclusive, any-instrument nature of SoundSport allows for ultimate creativity.

“Our creative team loves this idea, because there are really no rules,” Wise said. “You can really make it what you want to make it.”



VMAPA Executive Director Resigns


Santa Clara, CA. March 8, 2023 – The Vanguard Music and Performing Arts (VMAPA) Board of Directors announces the resignation of VMAPA Executive Director Jeremy Van Wert with gratitude for his work with the organization. A mutual agreement will allow Mr. Van Wert to continue with the organization until March 17, 2023, to ensure a successful transition of responsibilities and programs.

Mr. Van Wert was named VMAPA Interim co-Executive Director in July 2020 and became Executive Director in 2021. Since then, he has been instrumental in leading the organization in many new initiatives and innovations, particularly during uncertain times brought about by the pandemic. Mr. Van Wert’s contributions and accomplishments include the development of virtual fundraisers, the production of 2021’s “Wait for Me” original performance video, the engagement of alumni through projects such as the Vanguard Historical Society, supporting the formalization of the Vanguard Hall of Fame procedures, the establishment of a new Health and Wellness program for performers, the exploration of new market opportunities, and the execution of partnerships, such as Southwest Airlines, to further the Vanguard brand. Returning to the post-pandemic DCI competitive stage in 2022, the Santa Clara Vanguard earned a top-5 placement, and the Vanguard Cadets celebrated their seventh Open Class gold medal while Mr. Van Wert served as Executive Director. Most recently, Mr. Van Wert has been supporting a team to improve the experience of Vanguard Bingo.

“It has been an honor to serve as the Executive Director of Vanguard Music and Performing Arts for the past two and a half years,” says Van Wert. “I want to express my deep appreciation to all of those who have supported, dedicated themselves, and contributed to the organization’s success during my tenure. As I step down from this role, my greatest hope is that Vanguard will continue to provide a transformative, life altering, and enriching experience for high achieving performers. I wish the organization all the best in its path forward.”

The VMAPA Board of Directors sincerely thanks Mr. Van Wert for his dedication and commitment to Vanguard during his time as Executive Director. While VMAPA is presently focused on optimizing operations and prioritizing those efforts, we’d like to thank our current management team, which will continue running the organization’s day-to-day needs. The Board of Directors also continues to assess organizational needs in furtherance of VMAPA’s mission to enrich lives by increasing opportunities for participation, education, and excellence in the performing arts. On Behalf of the Board of Directors,

Amy Lipshy

President | Board Chair

Vanguard Music and Performing Arts

The Cadets Announce Move to Erie, PA


Erie Cadets

Cadets Arts and Entertainment, Inc., has announced that The Cadets Drum Corps and all of the organization’s operations have found a new home in Erie, Pa.

In 2022, The Cadets entered into a partnership with the Erie Sports Center as the new spring training site for the corps’ May-June rehearsals. Since then, the City of Erie has welcomed The Cadets with open arms, offering access to local business relationships, services, volunteers, and new opportunities for funding and partnerships.

The experience has been very positive — so positive, in fact, that it led to discussions about relocating the corps to Erie permanently. Those talks have now come to fruition, resulting in a decision to move The Cadets and all operations of its parent, 501(c)(3) organization, Cadets Arts & Entertainment, Inc., (CAE), to Erie, Pa. The CAE Board of Directors approved this decision on Monday evening, February 13, 2023, and CAE has signed an agreement to make the Erie Sports Center The Cadets’ year-round home.

Situated on 60 acres, the Erie Sports Center has nine sports clubs, just over 100 dorm rooms, numerous sports fields, and a domed turf field with lights, all within a short walking distance. Also on-site are a small theme park with miniature golf, beach volleyball, go carts, and live entertainment; a small restaurant; and an outside food stand. The new agreement includes office space, storage space and parking for year-round operations, as well as rehearsal facilities for The Cadets’ audition and rehearsal weekends, spring training, community performances, and housing for the early-August Erie Fanfare drum corps show.

Troy Bingham, Owner of the Erie Sports Center, commented, “We are so excited to bring The Cadets to the Erie community. I was in awe of the dedication, discipline, and attention to detail when I visited The Cadets’ rehearsals last year. It motivated me to bring these athletes to Erie long-term and to showcase what world-class performers look like. This partnership has a positive economic impact on the city and an amazing opportunity for our local arts community to interact with the oldest drum corps in the country. I am thrilled to welcome The Cadets to Erie.”

In addition to reliable, well-equipped facilities, the partnership also offers The Cadets a home and a network of people excited to help create a stable foundation for the corps for years to come. In the months leading up to this momentous decision, CAE management and Board members have held meetings with representatives from the City of Erie Mayor’s Office, the Erie Bureau of Police, the Erie Community Foundation, VisitErie and the Erie Sports Commission, the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority, the local drum corps community including the Erie Thunderbirds and Lake Erie Fanfare organizations, local businesses, and several school districts and educational institutions in the greater Erie area.

“We’re thrilled that The Cadets are moving to Erie and making a permanent home at the Erie Sports Center,” Erie Mayor Joe Schember said on Monday. “In the near future, we look forward to partnering with The Cadets on many events and initiatives that will benefit City residents and our community overall. We’re excited about this incredible opportunity.”

Brenton Davis, Erie County Executive, has also spoken positively about the partnership: “We welcome the opportunity to continue to expand youth activities, tourism, and local business in Erie County,” he said. “We are thankful for the work of Troy Bingham and the Erie Sports Center and look forward to their continued success.”

“We have received such a warm welcome from the Erie Sports Center, city and county government officials, the drum corps and pageantry arts communities, and local businesses,” said Vicki Ferrence Ray, Interim Executive Director of CAE. “As a Pennsylvania native, I am pleased that the state has served as a good home for The Cadets since our move to Allentown in 2004. We may be changing cities, but the identity of The Cadets will remain, just as it has in the past. Making Erie our home simply gives us the added benefit of a vibrant community that will support and celebrate The Cadets and help us sustain our legacy of excellence on and off the field,” she said.

Every summer, Cadets alumni and fans eagerly await the DCI Eastern Classic (DCI East), which has long been a favorite show for the East-Coast corps. Held annually the first weekend in August at Allentown’s historic J. Birney Crum Stadium, DCI East will undoubtedly continue to be a sentimental homecoming for the corps for decades to come. Allentown, Pa. has served as a wonderful home to The Cadets since 2004. The Cadets Administration, Staff and Board of Directors express heartfelt gratitude to the Lehigh Valley community for their support these last 18 years.

CAE Board Chairperson John Broschak commented, “As a culmination of multi-year strategic planning initiatives, The Cadets have found a new home in Erie that the Board is confident will support CAE’s long-term sustainability through 2034 and beyond. This major step forward should allow the organization to grow and diversify our funding sources, create thriving partnerships with new support networks, and pursue year-round program offerings supporting the local performing arts community and expanding the outreach of CAE. I couldn’t be more excited about the potential benefits of this strategic decision.”

Garfield, N.J., will always be The Cadets’ original hometown and birthplace. According to, “Garfield earned the nickname ‘City of Champions’ because… the Holy Name/Garfield Cadets were frequently winning DCI/National Drum and Bugle Corps Championships… and because of the exploits of other Garfield heroes.” As The Cadets begin their 89th season and build towards the centennial anniversary, the Erie community will become a new home base and network of support for this time-honored drum corps. Fittingly, the Erie agreement has a term of 11 years until December 31, 2034 — after The Cadets’ 100th season of performance.

“As a founding member of DCI and the oldest drum corps in the nation, it’s wonderful to see this next chapter open up for The Cadets, as they set a course for success and stability for the next 100 years,” said Dan Acheson, Executive Director of DCI.

The Cadets’ relocation will begin this month with the expectation of completing the move prior to the corps’ first full-corps rehearsal weekend, April 28-30. Stay tuned for upcoming news about performances during spring training and on tour.

Erie is Pennsylvania’s fifth-largest city and its only port on the great lakes. To find out more about the City of Erie, visit For more information about the Erie Sports Center, visit

Bluecoats Launches Rhythm IN BLUE as SoundSport® Ensemble


soudsport stage

Today Bluecoats announced the re-launch of Rhythm IN BLUE as a DCI SoundSport ensemble. Formerly a Bluecoats alumni-focused ensemble, Rhythm IN BLUE is now open to any performer 18 or older. The launch was initially planned for the 2020 season, but canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Now, the new vision for Rhythm IN BLUE returns, providing a more accessible and affordable program offering the Bluecoats Experience.

“SoundSport fills a unique niche in the marching arts community,” said Rhythm IN BLUE Education Coordinator Rachel Spencer. “We can have a student-centered and performance-based approach, without the costs of a full touring drum corps model.” Program fees for the season will hover around $1,000 for commuters.

Conceptual rendering of 2023 Rhythm IN BLUE musician look.

Rhythm IN BLUE will audition virtually, starting January 18th, and those invited to continue the experience will learn the six-minute show remotely throughout the winter and spring. “We are only going to meet four weekends this summer,” stated Ensemble Director, Jay Wise. “Our approach will be very different to get the most out of the performers in a short period of time, leveraging Bluecoats technologies and practices developed during the pandemic, including Bluecoats School of the Arts.

The show design and creative approach of Rhythm IN BLUE will echo that of the Bluecoats, including custom costuming from Stanbury Uniforms, top-of-the-line instruments from Yamaha and TAMA | Bergerault, and cutting edge electronic sound design. “SoundSport offers such a unique platform to do all sorts of amazing things” said Wise. “Rather than try to follow any existing model, we are going to try to blaze our own path through this unique format within DCI, and open our program to so many more performers eager to get a taste of the Bluecoats Experience.”

“We have always seen Rhythm IN BLUE as a great potential platform for extending the Bluecoats Experience to a wider audience,” said Mike Scott, CEO. “We have assembled an incredible staff of Bluecoats alumni, recent Bluecoats Fellows, and other experts from around the activity. Making Rhythm IN BLUE 18 and older, leveraging Bluecoats School of the Arts, and bringing together these amazing people, is sure to bring the Bluecoats Experience alive for this new generation of participants in our programming.”

To learn more about joining Rhythm IN BLUE in 2023, visit

Drum Corps International CEO to retire in late 2023


Dan Acheson

INDIANAPOLIS – Drum Corps International (DCI), the leader in producing events for the world’s finest marching ensembles for student musicians and performers, announces today that Dan Acheson, executive director and CEO since 1995, will retire at the end of 2023.

Having led the organization for what will be 28 years, Acheson is a 2008 inductee to the DCI Hall of Fame, in recognition of a lengthy list of achievements throughout the marching arts and most specifically for his contributions to the drum corps activity; including his decade-long leadership of the Glassmen Drum and Bugle Corps of Toledo, Ohio, prior to being tapped for DCI’s top position.

In acknowledgement of his service to and advocacy for music education, Acheson was named a Lowell Mason Fellow by the National Association for Music Education in 2008. In 2016, he was honored by the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame as the recipient of its prestigious “President’s Award.”

With a steady hand and uncompromising devotion to the organization’s mission, Acheson has tirelessly led Drum Corps International through a period of unprecedented growth and emergence as a worldwide brand synonymous with the pursuit of excellence in the scholastic performing arts. Each year tens of thousands of students participate in DCI-sanctioned activities around the world, to the delight of millions of educators, spectators, friends and supporters who enjoy their performances.

“It has been the greatest honor of my life to serve as CEO of Drum Corps International through an enormous series of changes over the decades, all the way to our organization’s 50th anniversary this past year,” Acheson said. “I am extremely proud of all that we have accomplished, along with each of the participating corps who have contributed to this rich legacy, and for the opportunities we’ve had the good fortune to provide to hundreds of thousands of remarkable young people who have chosen to take part. I am pleased to retire with DCI as a strong, vibrant organization that is ready for a wonderful next chapter which is waiting to be written.”

“Dan is an outstanding, passionate leader, and his long and successful tenure will leave us with enormous shoes to fill,” said Chris Holland, outgoing chair of the DCI board of directors. “Our search process for his replacement is well underway, and our intention is to have our next CEO in place early this spring, so Dan can lead a smooth transition throughout the 2023 season.”

2023 rules proposal voting results


INDIANAPOLIS — Five of six proposed rules at the 2023 DCI Rules Congress — held as part of the annual DCI winter business meetings January 5-8 — were either withdrawn or voted down in instructors caucus sessions. The sixth rule, regarding competition times, was passed with modifications by the instructors caucus, before being passed with further modifications by the DCI voting membership.


2023 DCI Rules Congress proposals at-a-glance


Six proposed changes to Drum Corps International’s rulebook will be up for discussion the first week of January during the annual DCI winter business meetings.

The DCI Rules Congress is a process that is directed primarily by the participating drum corps. During scheduled sessions January 6-7 in Indianapolis, drum corps instructors and designers will meet by caption in individual caucus sessions to discuss the proposals that have been vetted by DCI’s Artistry and Competition Steering Committee (ACSC).

Instructors from World Class member corps and the previous season’s Open Class finalists will be polled to determine whether or not the proposal should be passed along to the full membership to debate, discuss and eventually vote on in the final round of the rules change process.

As part of the Rules Congress process, the ACSC, which is made up of corps-affiliated representatives from the instructional community and members of the judge leadership team, may also bring up any relevant procedural and administrative changes for 2023 which may also be discussed and considered in both individual instructor caucus sessions and by representatives of DCI’s member organizations.


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