The Cadets Suspend Competition for 2024


Erie, Pennsylvania (October 13, 2023) — Cadets Arts & Entertainment (CAE), the non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that oversees The Cadets Drum Corps, has announced the suspension of The Cadets 2024 competitive season.

This decision follows a thorough CAE Board review of the organization’s current financial condition. The board concluded that, while overall planned expenses for the 2023 season were managed within expectations, the organization fell short of its fundraising goals for the year.

“This was a difficult decision to make, one that will inevitably be met with great disappointment and sorrow,” said CAE Board Chair John Broschak. “Simply put, budgeted fundraising amounts did not materialize as anticipated, which has led to an unsustainable financial situation and concerns about providing a quality Cadets experience for 2024. For these reasons, the CAE Board has no other choice but to suspend The Cadets’ 2024 competitive season.”

CAE also announced that Vicki Ferrence Ray has resigned as Executive Director. Brian Murphy continues as Cadets Corps Director.

Broschak noted that, since CAE’s fiscal year ends on October 31, the organization is determined to do the responsible thing by suspending before the new season begins in earnest.

“The care and concern for our students remains our top priority,” Broschak said. “We would only have moved forward with the competitive season if we had the ability to provide a quality experience for our members, staff and volunteers. The CAE Board will continue to evaluate our path forward in the coming weeks.”

Despite recent financial challenges, The Cadets had an admirable year, achieving fifth place and ending the season with the corps’ highest Finals score since 2015. Earlier this year, CAE successfully relocated The Cadets Drum Corps and the organization’s operations from Allentown, Pa., to the Erie Sports Center in Erie, Pa.

“On behalf of the entire CAE Board, I want to express our heartfelt gratitude to all members and supporters who contributed to this past year’s success and that of years prior. I also want to recognize the tireless efforts of our staff and volunteers who donated countless hours to help provide an extraordinary experience for our members,” Broschak said.

Established in 1934, The Cadets is the oldest corps of its kind, and one of the most decorated drum corps in history, having won 10 American Legion National Championships and 10 Drum Corps International World Championships.

Southwind Drum and Bugle Corps to Cease Operations


Mobile, AL – October 11th, 2023 – The Empower Youth in the Performing Arts, Inc. (EYPA) Board of Directors is announcing the difficult decision to cease operations of Southwind Drum and Bugle Corps.

“We are very sad to shut down the corps,” said EYPA Board President Cathy Chandler. “But the continued rising costs of transportation and housing within the current tour model, which accounts for almost 65 percent of the corps’ budget each summer, have placed the corps in a position where we are no longer able to participate and maintain financial stability. As an organization that cares first and foremost about its students, we are unwilling to lead them into a fiscally irresponsible situation that could leave them hanging for the summer. Rather than risk their experience, we are making the tough choice to cease operations.”

Southwind Drum and Bugle Corps has been proud to offer a one-of-a-kind musical and educational experience for its students since its founding in 1980. Throughout the years, hundreds of youth have had the opportunity to explore, grow, and excel with Southwind. This past summer saw the corps’ return to the medal podium with a third place finish in Open Class. Previously, Southwind won championships in 1991 and 1992 in Class A/Division II, and its highest placement was in 2000, when the corps ranked 13th in what is now the World Class division.

Southwind is grateful for all members and supporters who have contributed to the corps over the years, and we thank the staff and volunteers that have spent countless hours working with members to help them grow as musicians and people.

The organization has made it a priority to work with individual members and their families to ensure they are properly equipped and supported through this process. The EYPA organization will continue to support these members as they transition to finding new opportunities within the marching arts.

Going forward, EYPA will continue its dedication to serving young people in performing arts, providing opportunities for artistic expression, personal growth, and community involvement.

Robert W. Smith, pioneer of “original” drum corps compositions, dies at 64


Robert W. Smith

Prolific concert band composer and music educator Robert W. Smith, who in the 1980s broke new ground writing original music composed specifically for the drum corps idiom, died on Thursday in Montgomery, Alabama. He was 64.

Smith’s wife Susan reported his death on Facebook, the result of complications from cardiac surgery.

The path to the “football field stage” of the drum corps and marching band universe has been an interesting journey for this award-winning composer and educator who has penned more than 600 compositions with multiple credits in television and motion pictures.

According to Smith, who was inducted into the DCI Hall of Fame in 2010, it all began thanks to a small drum corps out of Troy, Alabama, called the Charioteers.

“I must give credit where credit is due, and I have to begin with the corps that were willing to take a chance on a very young and very opinionated writer,” Smith said during his DCI Hall of Fame induction in August of 2010. “The Charioteers introduced me to Drum Corps International, and I sat there in 1976 in Philadelphia at Franklin Field and went, wow, there’s something here, and there’s something for me.”

In the early 1980s, Smith hooked up with the fledgling central Florida-based drum corps, Suncoast Sound. It was here he played an integral role in creating some of the most innovative and thought-provoking productions of all-time, changing the history of Drum Corps International show design for years to come.

It was Suncoast Sound’s 1984 “Vietnam” show, themed on the turbulent era of the 1960s, where Smith was given his first opportunity to pen compositions written solely for the drum corps stage. In one of the most poignant moments of this show, behind a field of white crosses representing fallen soldiers, color guard members raised 28 fabric panels off the ground to reveal the shape of Washington’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

1984 Suncoast Sound | “Vietnam”

This Memorial Day, we remember all those who paid the ultimate sacrifice to keep us free. Without them, we would not enjoy all we have and all we sometimes take for granted. We are grateful for their service and we will never forget their selfless sacrifice. 🇺🇸 📰:

Posted by Drum Corps International on Friday, May 27, 2022

Another original set of compositions for Suncoast’s 1988 “Symphonic Dances for the Contemporary Child” according to Boo is “one of the most intriguing, audience-challenging, innovative and controversial shows to hit the field in Drum Corps International competitions.” But the bar had effectively been set as the floodgates opened for show designers to stretch their creative bounds, propelling the drum corps activity to new heights.

“Full of emotion, effect and passion; and the visual program was in full sync with the music,” fellow Drum Corps International Hall of Fame member and composer Jay Bocook said of Smith’s creations. “It changed the way all of us looked at putting shows together. The music was like a great soundtrack to a film.”

After Suncoast Sound, Smith went on to compose and arrange for a laundry list of drum corps including the Spirit of Atlanta, Velvet Knights and Cadets of Bergen County (the corps’ popular 1989 “Les Misérables” show). Smith helped another Florida corps, Magic of Orlando, get off the ground in the early 1990s and in the 2000s lent his talents to corps like the Glassmen, Madison Scouts and Troopers.

Smith’s stint with the Troopers was especially meaningful on a personal level, as his daughter Madison marched as a member of the color guard in 2015 where she also performed a vocal solo composed by her father for the corps’ “Wild Horses” production.

“It’s the most special feeling in the world,” Smith said in a 2015 interview for DCI’s “Field Pass” podcast. “Drum corps has been one of the most amazing parts of my life and my career. I love it, but it is so incredibly special when it’s your child out there.”

Smith is survived by his wife Susan and two daughters Savannah and Madison.

Outside of the drum corps activity, it was Smith’s success both as a composer and in the world of music education that helped to lend credibility to an activity that often struggled to get buy-in from music educators at the high school and collegiate levels that drum corps was a valuable educational experience for their students.

“In a bygone era of drum corps we, as a drum corps society, needed credibility with the band community,” DCI Hall of Fame member Freddy Martin said. “Few have given that credibility as clearly and completely as Robert W. Smith.”

Smith’s ability to stand with feet in both worlds helped to usher in a new era as more and more music majors who would become future band directors, music teachers and performers joined the ranks of Drum Corps International ensembles across the country.

“He had an ability to teach us about music and life, in a way that gave us unlimited potential,” said former Boston Crusader corps director Howard Weinstein who was a member of Suncoast Sound during Smith’s tenure. “Each and every one of us learned and understood the value drum corps had and continues to have in our lives, both on and off the field.”

Robert W. Smith Suncoast Sound Snapshots
Robert W. Smith through the years with Suncoast Sound.


Smith’s composing credits include more than 600 published works largely through Warner Bros. Publications and the Belwin Concert Band Performance Music catalog. A significant portion of his composing and arranging in his career has been focused on educational compositions for young musicians, many of which have become standards and standard-setting for music educators around the world to teach to their groups. In 2015 Smith launched the RWS Music Company, “committed to producing music of impeccable artistic and educational value,” which not only showcases Smith’s compositions but also works from nearly 20 additional composers.

Even when not working directly for drum corps, Smith’s works have been popular with designers for their playability by performers of all ages. More than 100 Robert W. Smith compositions have been credited within the repertoires of DCI and all-age drum corps’ productions since the 1980s, a quarter of those credits accounting from movements of Smith’s popular “The Divine Comedy” symphonic band symphony composed in the mid-1990s.

View Robert W. Smith’s drum corps composing credits

Smith’s last credited original compositions on the DCI stage came from Music City’s 2018 and 2019 productions, but in the years since, he stayed closely connected to the DCI community. While nearing Drum Corps International’s 40th anniversary in 2010, he concluded his Hall of Fame induction speech with his vision for the future of DCI, a belief long held throughout his tenure in the marching music industry.

“I think it’s about sustaining the activity for the next generation and moving the activity forward,” Smith said. “It’s important that we reach for the stars. However, the English poet Robert Browning reminds us that a man’s reach should always exceed his grasp … As we reach for those stars, we must not lose our grasp on our audience, and we must not lose our grasp of our primary mission of educating the next generation of incredible performers.”


Drum Corps’ Tribute to Chuck Mangione

Jazz legend Chuck Mangione, who is a native of Rochester, New York, was honored September 1 as part of the 2023 Drum Corps Associates World Championships. With Mangione in attendance, this video retrospective of his music’s timeless influence on the drum corps activity was played as part of the event.


VMAPA Announces New CEO and Plan for Return of the Santa Clara Vanguard in 2024

santa clara vanguard

Santa Clara, CA , Sept 8 2023 – Vanguard Music and Performing Arts (VMAPA) has appointed Dr. Russell Gavin (Russ) as its new Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Dr. Gavin brings a wealth of experience and a fresh perspective to the organization, and his leadership is poised to guide us towards a vibrant future with focus on organizational stability and member experience.

Dr. Russell Gavin holds a Ph.D. in Music Education from Florida State University, an M.M. in Euphonium Performance from the University of Notre Dame, and a B.Mus. in Education from Auburn University. Dr. Gavin currently assumes the role of Dr. Arthur P. Barnes Director of Bands at Stanford University, a position he has held since May of 2017.

“I’m inspired by the number of people who have been working diligently over the last 10 months to make sure the future of the Santa Clara Vanguard is bright for decades to come,” said Dr. Gavin. “I am excited to join this team as we work to reestablish and revitalize the overall organizational health of VMAPA. I am honored to be a part of the legacy of the Santa Clara Vanguard.”

“During our first conversations with Russ, it became apparent how much he respected and loved Vanguard from his days of watching and competing,” says Amy Lipshy, VMAPA Board Chair and President. “Russ is well connected and respected amongst his peers within the DCI community and his professional network. Russ showed a passion for being a part of this organization, and the Board feels strongly that Russ is an ideal fit for our organization and where it’s going. We are delighted to offer our full support as Russ digs into the work ahead.”

Dr. Gavin recognizes the challenges VMAPA has faced, stating, “It is important to acknowledge the VMAPA has suffered a series of organizational missteps over the last several years; however, it is also important to acknowledge the amount of work that has gone into healing those missteps in recent months, and I look forward to continuing and accelerating that healing.”

Dr. Gavin also expresses confidence in the organization’s progress: “In the end, I believe that VMAPA and Santa Clara Vanguard have assembled the right pieces to provide the kinds of life-enhancing and life-altering experiences our members deserve and expect. The progress we have made today is a direct outcome of ongoing work and conversations between senior leadership at VMAPA, DCI CEO Dan Acheson, and the DCI Board, and multiple advisors from the DCI community at-large. I have faith that the collective wisdom of the people advising these efforts will result in a great member experience in the 2024 Santa Clara Vanguard.”

In addition to this exciting leadership news, we are thrilled to announce that the Santa Clara Vanguard Drum & Bugle Corps is taking all necessary steps to return to the Drum Corps International Tour for the 2024 season. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to our loyal supporters who have stood by us through our hiatus.

As we look forward to the future, we do so with a spirit of honesty, transparency, and a deep commitment to learning from our past. We acknowledge the challenges and missteps of the past, but we are resolute in our dedication to rebuilding and revitalizing the Santa Clara Vanguard.

This journey has not been without its difficulties, but we are inspired by the passion and resilience of our members, staff, alumni, and supporters. Together, we have worked tirelessly to ensure that Vanguard reestablishes itself as a beacon of excellence in the drum corps community.

We are excited about the future and the incredible experiences that await our members. The return of the Santa Clara Vanguard in 2024 represents a new chapter in our storied history, and we invite you to join us as we continue to inspire and enrich the lives of our performers and audiences alike.

2023 DCA World Championships Finals

Rochester, NY
September 3, 2023

World Class
1. Buccaneers           99.000
2. Caballeros           97.000
3. Bushwackers          92.200
4. Atlanta CV           91.275


Open Class
1. Hurricanes           89.400
2. White Sabers         89.150
3. Fusion Core          86.550
4. Cincinnati Tradition 84.625


A Class
1. Rogues Hollow        83.200
2. Skyliners            80.200
3. Govenaires           77.325
4. Columbus Saints      72.200


2023 DCA World Championships Prelims

Rochester, NY
September 2, 2023

World Class
1. Buccaneers           97.700
2. Caballeros           95.250
3. Bushwackers          91.200
4. Atlanta CV           89.825


Open Class
1. Hurricanes           88.900
2. White Sabers         88.600
3. Fusion Core          85.375
4. Cincinnati Tradition 83.050


A Class
1. Rogues Hollow        82.625
2. Skyliners            78.825
3. Govenaires           77.125
4. Columbus Saints      71.550


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