CONCORD -- Each season, Scott Chandler raises the bar when it comes to the ingenuity of the choreography -- and each time his cast of roughly 150 just keeps on rising to the challenge.
The Concord Blue Devils' A Corps danced its way on stage Saturday, Aug. 11, and for the 15th time, took home the Drum Corps International World Championship, also wrapping up an undefeated season.
The next day, the group performed in front of an estimated crowd of 50,000 during the half-time show of the ESPN-televised Indianapolis Colts and St. Louis Rams football game.
"There were a lot of out-of-time movements," says Kyle Peterson, a second-generation trumpeter. "This was way out of our comfort zone ... But, we thrive under that pressure to do better. We work harder; we train better."
And, the A Corps' visual performance, percussion and color guard programs achieved top honors.
Additionally, the Blue Devils' B Corps took home a silver medal in the open class championships.
Part of the inspired push toward excellence is a by-product of the rush that comes from being part of such a large, equally committed ensemble.
"It's almost impossible to find a group of 150 people that are performing ... in tandem. You get addicted to that level of performance," Peterson adds.
Concord resident Olivia Hansen describes a similar adrenaline-like response she experiences during a competition.
"I feel all their energy, everyone's total
Researching the art and architecture that arose from the turn-of-the-century European Bauhaus -- and then Dada -- movements, inspired Chandler to conceptualize the award-winning program, Cabaret Voltaire.
"It was fun, whimsical. It's colorful and innovative," says the Walnut Creek resident and program coordinator, who started performing with the Blue Devils' drum corps in 1990. "And that to me is entertainment."
Chandler's artistic vision continued to be a creative process that started with auditions held the previous fall, which coincided with the formulation of the competitive program by Chandler and his colleagues, arranging music, staging the show, and coming up with costumes and props.
"It's similar to putting on a Broadway show," he says of the nearly 12-minute final performance.
"Historically, the Blue Devils have been very innovative and forward-thinking ... We try to explore concepts that have never been done before," Chandler adds about the local drum corps, founded in 1957.
Hansen, a sophomore at Diablo Valley College, relished being part of such innovation, referring to the show's blend of whimsy and intensity, its incorporation of innuendos and everyday gestures, and the "dodging, ducking and diving" that they executed as they approached the center of the football field.
"I loved how quirky the choreography was," she says.
And Peterson, a former Concord resident whose parents met while training with the Blue Devils in the 1980s, describes Chandler's artistry as being consistent with the early 20th century Dada movement, with its "random things coming together in a collage (that) starts to make a bigger picture."
The senior at Sonoma State also describes the rehearsal process that starts out primarily in the technical realm and morphs into inspiring more of an emotional response by showtime.
"At the end, we're performing automatically and everything we're trying to do is to get that crowd off their feet," he says.