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Atlanta Drum Corps take Science Hill stadium audience a few ‘steps’ back to Roaring Twenties

June 18th, 2013 10:20 pm by Kayla Carter

Atlanta Drum Corps take Science Hill stadium audience a few ‘steps’ back to Roaring Twenties

The 150 members of Spirit of Atlanta Drum & Bugle Corps took a Tuesday night audience back in time to the 1920s during their preview performance at Science Hill’s Kermit Tipton Stadium.

Spirit of Atlanta Corps Director of Education and Programming Mark Waymier said the show was designed to first entertain, but to also instill feelings in the audience reminiscent of the Roaring Twenties. 

“Within the theme, we tried to come up with many ways to show the audience things, feelings and music that are going to evoke, if nothing else, the big adjectives we think of when we think about the 20s,” Waymier said.

A lot of research was conducted to ensure the performance has an authentic feel. 

“We did a lot of research on the 1920s for this production,” Maymier said. “We’ve been putting music and ideas together since September. It is our creative brainchild or baby, so to speak, but they have to bring it to life.”

• See a photo gallery from the show.

The performance titled “Speakeasy” began to highlight the Roaring Twenties with a “Chicago” musical tune, swiftly changing into George Gershwin’s Concerto in the key of F. 

From there musicians referenced prohibition with an upbeat ragtime rhythm, which was disrupted by a gloomy piece inspired by speakeasy raids that took place in that decade. 

Art deco illustrations matched the overall theme, but were referenced musically during the next ballad sampled from “Victor Victoria” and referenced as the “Crazy World” portion of the performance among members of the corps. 

The final movement was the nostalgic jazz standard “Sweet Georgia Brown,” which brought their initial performance to a close. 

“We used ‘Sweet Georgia Brown,’ which is from the 1920s and is also a piece that holds a lot of historical significance with the drum corps,” Waymier said. “The drum corps played it back a long time ago when it was first founded.”

After the initial performance was over, the corps brought their instruments closer to the audience by lining up on the track to perform a few more songs.

A Washington, D.C., high school English teacher, Michael Madaio, who teaches the bass drum section in the drum line, said the color guard outfits, which include bowler and fedora hats, and the rolling out of an upright piano onto the field add the right kind of flare special to the 1920s era.

“Our show is evocative of 1920s jazz and we want to show the energy and spirit of that time,” Madaio said. 

For three months this summer, members of the corps have practiced more than 12 hours a day in preparation to perform more than 30 times, which will take them more than 10,000 miles across the country.

Travelling from Newnan, Ga., Daphne Stephens said her 21-year-old son Joseph plays snare in the drum line and it’s his first year performing with the corps.

“This is the first time I’ve seen him in a uniform,” she said.

Perseverance and passion fuels her son’s dedication, which Stephens said all members must possess in order for the corps to uphold their renowned virtuosity.

Tuesday night’s performance is what the corps will take to their first traveling performance in Lexington, Ky., on Friday as well as a live video broadcast performance in Akron, Ohio, on Saturday. 

The performance season will end at the Drum Corps International World Championship on Aug. 10.

Stephens said she was glad to have the opportunity to make the beautiful drive to Tennessee in order to view the preview show before her son is once again out of reach for the summer. 

“It’s a chance to see the whole show and how they perform that era’s music,” Stephens said. “I’m excited for them and I’m a very proud mom.”

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