Every New Year’s Day, Pasadena welcomes an eclectic array of marching bands to Colorado Boulevard for the annual Rose Parade. Differences in their styles and choreography help round out the long-standing tradition while supplementing colorful floats on that January morning. But with the Rose Parade still six months away, local residents can look forward to a different event that will feature similar performances involving music and movement.
For the second year in a row, the Rose Bowl is set to host a national drum and bugle performance competition as part of the Drum Corps International summer tour. The July 2 show, “Corps at the Crest,” will spotlight more than 1,000 high school and college students from 12 different marching bands primarily based throughout the West Coast. These students leave their homes for the summer to participate in the national tour. During the competitions, each band displays an intricate blend of brass, percussion and dance that typically lasts between 10 and 15 minutes.
Diamond Bar’s Pacific Crest Youth Arts Organization is sending a band and also sponsoring the event at the Rose Bowl, which serves as a preliminary venue for a national tournament that will eventually converge in Indianapolis in August.
“We look forward to this event as these spirited bands come together for one fantastic evening of music-making,” Rose Bowl General Manager Darryl Dunn said in a statement.
“Corps at the Crest” also strives to provide outreach to underserved communities in Southern California. The belief of Pacific Crest is that when musically inclined students attend the live summer performance, they are able to witness what their peers can achieve and subsequently return to school with a renewed passion for the craft.
“The band kids are the natural audience for this,” said Pacific Crest Executive Director Stuart Pompel. “If we can get them into the stands, we know that they’re going to be inspired by what they see. They’re going to be charged up and ready to go for band camp and football season and all of that.”
But getting students into the stands isn’t always that easy, especially when they come from economically disadvantaged communities. While “Corps at the Crest” is a ticketed event, Pompel understands that there are many high school students who simply cannot afford to attend. That’s why, as part of Pacific Crest’s partnership with the Rose Bowl, a fundraising group was established to find corporate sponsors in the Pasadena area and beyond.
Heading up the efforts are Tournament of Roses Chief Operating Officer Ed Corey, former Tournament of Roses presidents Mike Riffey (2004) and Rich Chinen (2014), and Pasadena City College Director of Bands Kyle Luck, among others. The Pasadena Convention & Visitor Bureau and Pasadena Chamber of Commerce have since become two of the biggest local sponsors for “Corps and the Crest.” These relationships allowed Pacific Crest to provide no-cost tickets to 345 underserved students and their band directors at the Rose Bowl last year.
“When [the corporate sponsors] find out that they’re giving these tickets to students who are in the band programs at the various high schools, that just promotes it that much more,” said Riffey.
Blair High School and Marshall Fundamental School have already confirmed that they will be attending the event on July 2, and Pasadena High School has also expressed interest.
The tournament championship was last held at the Rose Bowl in 2007. At the time, the audience was the largest that Drum Corps International had ever attracted. This popularity led Pompel to push for the competition’s return to Pasadena and he began negotiating with Dunn in September of 2014. A few months later, “Corps at the Crest” dazzled about 7,500 onlookers in the Arroyo for one of the tournament’s preliminary competitions. Pacific Crest’s goal this year is to exceed that number.
“What we’re trying to say to people who may not know what this is or maybe they remember it from 30 years ago when they were in high school is if you like the Rose Parade bands, you’ve got to come check this out,” said Pompel. “It’s going to just blow you away.”
For more information about tickets, visit pacific-crest.org/outreach.