PASIC draws second-largest crowd in its history

by Lauren Vogel Weiss, DCW staff

With 5,669 people spending at least one day at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, the 2002 edition of the Percussive Arts Society International Convention held in Columbus, OH, November 13-16 was the second-best-attended convention in the Society’s history (after PASIC 2000 in Dallas, TX).

Events covered all of the percussive arts — from orchestral to African, from drumset to drum circles — but marching percussion was prominently featured throughout the convention. In addition to clinics by some of the leading authorities from the drum corps activity and contests open to high school and college students from across the country, one of the highlights of the entire PASIC was The Drummer’s Heritage Concert November 14.

Organized and directed by Robin Engelman, a founding member of the NEXUS percussion ensemble that was inducted into the PAS Hall of Fame in 1999, this event brought together literally hundreds of marching percussionists from all genres of rudimental drumming in an incredible program that lasted almost three hours.

Ensembles that performed included the Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drums (representing drumming from the revolutionary war era), Camp Chase Fifes and Drums (capturing the essence of mid-19th century drumming), the Peel Regional Police Drum Corps (a pipe band corps based in Brampton, Ontario), the show band style of drumming represented by the Bethune-Cookman College Marching Wildcats Drum Line, CADRE (Canadian Associates Drumming Rudimental Excellence), the Oak Village Middle School Marching Percussion Ensemble (from Houston, TX) and the 13-time PASIC College Division Champion the University of North Texas Drum Line.

As if that weren’t eventful enough, the amazing ensemble performances were interspersed with some of the finest rudimental soloists from around the world: Nick Attanasio, the 80-year-young rudimental bass drum champion, (accompanied by snare drummers Dominick Cuccia and Therese Rock-Cuccia); 2002 PAS Hall of Fame inductee John S. Pratt; Jim Kilpatrick, the Scottish drumming champion with more world titles to his name than anyone else; Alfonse Grieder, the “Ambassador of Basel Drumming” from Switzerland (who was also accompanied by Americlique); Marty Hurley, known for his many years with Phantom Regiment and one of the finest rudimental drummers alive today; and Jeff Queen, one of the snare drum soloists from the original London and Broadway casts of “BLAST!.”

Hearing the six soloists play The Downfall of Paris was one of the early highlights of the concert, to be topped off by a finale featuring all of the evening’s performers, nearly 300 “field” musicians — plus NEXUS — playing a long roll and Three Camps. Almost 2000 people overflowed the hall for this historic concert, which was hosted by DCI Hall of Famer Dennis DeLucia as the eloquent master of ceremonies. Special thanks also go to Artistic Consultants Ray Dillard and Paul Rennick for assisting Engelman in this once-in-a-lifetime event.

The other “high point” of the marching events in Columbus was the 20th anniversary of the first PAS Marching Percussion Festival, held November 15. The University of North Texas Drum line won the college division for the 13th time with a score of 95.0 while Iowa State University won the college small ensemble division with an 84.5. There were three categories for high schools. Colleyville Heritage High School (Colleyville, TX) won the high school drum line division with an 89.2; McIntosh High School (Peachtree City, GA) won the high school standstill division with an 80.5; and the high school small ensemble went to Penn High School (Mishawaka, IN) with a 74.8.

Neil Larrivee and Tom Aungst from The Cadets gave a clinic on “The Principals of Effective and Successful Programming for Indoor Marching Percussion”; Matt Savage gave a master calls on “A Savage Rudimental Workshop”; Colin McNutt from Magic of Orlando gave a marching percussion clinic; the Swiss style of drumming was covered in a clinic by Alfonse Grieder (and Americlique); a master class on “Snare Drum Interpretation/Technique Exchange” was given by Mitch Markovich; and there was a concert by the always entertaining marching trio Hip Pickles (Chet Doboe, Chris Scherer and Jeremy Fischer).

In addition to all of these outstanding marching percussion events, there were other memorable performances in Columbus: the PASIC premiere of Ney Rosauro’s second marimba concerto (with the composer as soloist accompanied by the University of Miami Percussion Ensemble); the U.S. premiere of She-e Wu’s “Blue Identity” for marimba and percussion ensemble (with the composer as soloist, accompanied by the percussion ensemble of Conservatoire Supérieur de Paris-CNR); concerts by NEXUS (performing works of Steve Reich) and the Dave Weckl Band; and another historic concert — the Drummers of Woody Herman featuring Don Lamond, Jake Hanna, Ed Soph, Joe La Barbera, Steve Houghton, Jeff Hamilton, John Riley and Jim Rupp. And this was just the tip of the percussive iceberg!