Phantom sweeps all captions in Hornell

by Ed Medina, DCW staff

Phantom Regiment (Rockford, IL)
Photo by Ron Walloch

July 30, 2003 — Hornell, NY . . . Twenty-year old Amanda Morris, a third-year member of the Phantom Regiment color guard, held her breath along with the Regiment staff as she aired-out her saber at the beginning of Regiment’s show at the 14th Annual Music Under the Stars DCI competition.

Earlier in the day — at the top of PR’s pre-show-rehearsal-ending run-through to be exact — the same saber landed blade first on her forehead, creating and inch-long gash and a bloodied face.

In the performance for the record that evening, however, a collective sigh of relief was felt as the bandaged Austin, TX, native nailed the toss and the show-opening dance solo, helping the Rockford-Loves Park, IL-based corps to its 15th first-place win in 25 tries on the season and a convincing 92.25 score in sweeping all captions (and sub-captions) in front of some 3,000-plus paying customers at Hornell High School Stadium.

Other scores included Crossmen, 85.5; Magic of Orlando, 84.7; Colts, 79.55; and Kiwanis Kavaliers, 79.55. The lone Division II corps in the show was Madison’s Capitol Sound, and it netted 79.55.

“It’s still throbbing,” said Morris of the injury after the show. “Every moment, every second of the show I was holding my breath, much more than usual. I’m usually nervous before shows, what with the judges walking around, the lights and the crowd, but tonight it was a little tougher.”

Thankfully, the injury wasn’t serious enough to warrant emergency medical attention, meaning the show went on like it has every night of the summer this year.

“I was holding my breath because I thought that after getting hit in the head at rehearsal she might be a little dizzy,” shared Regiment’s program advisor, Dr. Daniel Richardson. “But she was brilliant and she caught it exactly the right way. In fact, she was better tonight than she’s been all year.”

And so was the Phantom Regiment color guard, who’s season-high 18.5 color guard score bested the second-place Crossmen’s 17.3.

“I feel very good,” Morris said after the show about the corps’ chances heading into championships week. “The color guard performed big tonight — their facial expressions, their bodies, their equipment — everything was the best we’ve seen so far this year.”

Such is what the corps is hoping for as the season begins to wind down and head for DCI week. Regiment feels confident in its chances heading into DCI East at Allentown and the championships in Orlando.

“Our show just gets better and better; we keep rehearsing the same things over and over again, so we’re cleaning and not making any more changes,” Morris said.

“We feel very confident,” shared Richardson.

“Right now the scores are all 91, 92, 93 for the top five. Were at 92. We had a 92.9 last night (Centerville, OH), and we should be at 93 tomorrow, so we’ll see what happens. If we’re in the top three, excellent, that’s what we want. If we’re in the top five, that’s comfortable too, but we’re feeling good about it.”

Their performance at Hornell pleaded the rediscovered and white-clad Phantom Regiment’s dark-horse case to perfection. The staff added some bodywork to the opener that morning, which communicated very well in that evening’s performance. Morris’ solo work at the beginning introduced a myriad of musical and visual thoughts at the show’s outset, which came together nicely and culminated with punctuations by orange rifles and flags. The drill staging marvelously set up Phantom’s lush, deep and resonant brass sound at seemingly the best spot on the field for numerous statements.

Design-wise, it could be one of Regiment’s best shows in some time.

“This is the best coordinated show we’ve had in a few years,” Richardson said. “At times we didn’t always feel we had the best program, but still won due to technical proficiency. This year we feel we have both aspects which is why we’ve been successful.”

The show gives people what they’d expect from the Regiment: leg kicks, wedges and shimmering high brass that gets more than ample bolstering from the low end.

Crossmen’s 85.5 was 1.1 down from the previous night’s third-place effort at the Lake Erie Fanfare in Erie, PA. Still, the corps was pleased with what they had accomplished.

“I thought today was a wonderful day for us,” said Bones’ program coordinator Larry Markiewicz. “We had a really good show, one of our best of the year.”

The “Colors” theme hits you over the head from the opening strains of Somewhere over the Rainbow that lead to a Crayola-colorful opening statement by the brass and guard, who hold multicolored fabrics in an arc amid a strong brass statement in an aggressive forward stage.

It’s trademark Crossmen near the end of the show, when Blue Rondo a la Turk ends with a driving swing feel, with the drums pounding on beats two and four, reminiscent of the corps’ popular rendition of Birdland — which is quoted by the end of the tune — from a few years ago.

“We put some new changes in that came off very well,” shared Markiewicz. “We’re happy with the kids having more things on their plate and that they handled it well.”

In performance percussion, Crossmen were behind Regiment by just four-tenths (18.3 to 17.9) and copped a 9.0 in the music/percussion sub-caption.

“Score-wise we’re hanging in there,” noted Markiewicz. “This is a competitive year. All the corps are good this year so it’s kind of fun to be in the thick of it.”

Not far behind in third place — eight-tenths behind the X-Men for those keeping score — was Magic of Orlando, which scored second to Phantom Regiment in two captions, namely general effect and ensemble visual. In ensemble visual, Magic was just six-tenths behind Rockford, and it was easy to see why.

A large, expansive — and expressive — stage opened the show and the corps was brought together for the opening statement of the Sinfonia Voci opener quite alluringly. Marchers weaved in and out of horns placed bell-down on the turf before picking them up. When the full corps started to play and move it became apparent rather quickly that this second-year-back corps has grown up a few years in just one.

Their ending, although still a work in progress and set to the music of David Holsinger’s Easter Symphony, is on the cusp of “rocking on,” noted a DCI judge, and was held back only due to some contact between members and the corps still working on handling the physical demand of the visual book. Pulling it off will be key to them repeating as a finalist.

Colts landed a solid fourth with a 79.55. Their show begins and ends with a similar — much the same — drill set. It’s a cross, tilted to its left side and focused at the 40-yard line stage left. The drum solo featured a full-corps mad dash to a covered-down line splitting the side-two 50 and 45, which gained immediate respect for nailing it without the benefit of a painted white stripe on which to guide. Effect marks could have been higher if the jazzier portions of the rather entertaining production weren’t performed so straight.

Kiwanis Kavaliers packed a lot into a somewhat smaller package this year, and they earned every bit of their fifth-place 75.1. Their “All You Need is Love” program featured familiar strains from the Beatles and was done stirringly at times.

Madison’s Capital Sound wasn’t all that out of place among five open-class thorough-breads, netting a respectable 79.55 on division II sheets. Their “Childhood Emotions” show begins as a fully integrated statement with all cylinders firing. The ballad Reflections combines full-corps singing with small ensemble brass passages — memorable to say the least. Sun rays became a full-field arc in the Celebration closer, which also featured some question and answer brass and drums complete with a box-in-and-out ending sequence.