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Drum & Bugle Corps

2017 Show Announcement

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2017 marks the 71st anniversary of Minnesota Brass and we’re thrilled to announce our summer program titled, “Pins & Needles“.

Crafted of rags, textiles and other assorted materials, voodoo dolls are pierced with pins with the distinct intention of inflicting physical harm upon targeted subjects. A voodoo doll’s existence is one of pain and servitude, the pawn of another’s will, a surrogate to another’s whim…

Or perhaps not?

We are excited to present a patchwork of sounds and visions that will tantalize the soul and capture the black magic mystery of “Pins & Needles”. Brass arrangements from famed Blue Devils arranger John Meehan. Selections include “In The Hall Of The Mountain King” and “The March Of The Trolls” by Grieg, “Medea’s Dance Of Vengeance” by Samuel Barber, “Coraline” [ending credits] by Bruno Courlais and “Hurt” by Trent Reznor.

MBI Announces New Leadership Team

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Minnesota Brass (MBI), the premiere drum and bugle corps in the Midwest and former world champion, is pleased to announce the creation of a new leadership team as it embarks on its 71st season in 2017.

Based in St. Paul, Minn., the new management structure will comprise an Executive Committee made up of three longtime members of the organization and a split directorship divided between strategic and tactical responsibilities.

The new executive committee will consist of former corps director Gavin Burnham, longtime financial officer Dave Whitaker and board chairman Todd Tanji. All are former performing members with the corps and share longstanding experience with the activity in administrative capacities. The day-to-day operations will be handled by new corps directors Justin Foell and Katy Bensen, both also former performing members.

The new officers include:

burnham

Gavin Burnham – Executive Director, President and CEO (gavin@mnbrass.org)

Burnham has been involved with Minnesota Brass since 1985, as a marching member from 1985 to 1989. He also served as financial officer and assistant corps director from 1988 to 1994, and corps director from 1995 to 2002. Since 2003, Burnham has served as president and Chief Executive Officer of the organization.

 

 

 

whitaker

David Whitaker – Chief Financial Officer (dave@mnbrass.org)

Whitaker has been involved with MBI since 1990, as a marching member for six years and also serving as a visual tech and administrator. He joined the Board of Directors in 1992 and served until 2001 when we was elected board chairman, a position he held until 2007.

 

 

 

tanji

Todd Tanji – Chair, Board of Directors (ttanji@mnbrass.org)

Tanji has served on the Board of Directors since 2009 and as board chairman since 2012. He was a performing member from 1978 to 1980, and served as brass caption head in 1984. He has been artistic director of Minne-Brass, a small ensemble that performs under the MBI umbrella, since 2005. Tanji also performed with the world champion Blue Devils Drum and Bugle Corps of Concorde, Calif., from 1981 to 1982, and has served on the BD Performing Arts Board of Directors/Advisory Board since 2003.

 

 

 

foell

Justin Foell – Corps Director (justin@mnbrass.org)

Foell will manage the educational and volunteer staffs of Minnesota Brass. He was a marching member of world champion Rockford, Ill., Phantom Regiment Drum and Bugle Corps from 1995 to 1998. He performed in the Minnesota Brass horn line in 1999 and 2012, and served on the brass staff from 2013 to 2016. He also currently serves as webmaster for the organization. He is an alumnus of the Irondale High School Marching Knights of New Brighton, Minn.

 

 

 

bensen

Katy Bensen – Managing Director (katy@mnbrass.org)

Bensen will manage corps operations and member relations for MBI. She performed with the Minnesota Brass horn line in 1989 and 1992 and with Phantom Regiment in 1990 and 1991. She has served on the MBI visual staff since 2013 and has been the corps’ managing director since 2014, also providing member support for the corps’ winter ensembles. She currently teaches music in the White Bear Lake School District in suburban St. Paul, and teaches private lessons, summer band and high-school marching band.

 

 

 

Minnesota Brass is a 100-plus member drum and bugle corps based in St. Paul, Minn., that provides performance opportunities for adults age 17 and up. It also hosts a winter color guard, winter drum line and Minne-Brass, a small ensemble that performs throughout the year in parades and at corporate and private events.

 

A Dream 13 Years in the Making

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Who says “13” can’t be a lucky number? That’s exactly how many years it took for MBI euphonium player Elkin Navarro to realize his dream of marching in a drum and bugle corps in the United States.

Navarro, 31, is a long-time band director from Bucaramanga, Colombia, located some 250 miles north of the capital city of Bogotá … and nearly 3,000 miles south of St. Paul. The city of around half a million hosts a large clothing industry as well as a growing technological research effort specializing in energy, gas, oil, asphalt, leather and agro-industrial development tools, among other concerns. Located in the Colombian Andes, it is also a popular destination for tourists.

After some 15 years of teaching band, Elkin said he thought he’d better get on with trying to fulfill his drum corps dream. Looking for online videos of U.S. marching bands in the pre-YouTube days was a daunting effort, but he eventually stumbled upon videos of DCI corps. And watching videos of the Cavaliers only fueled his desire to participate. His first visit to the United States came two years ago when he played mellophone with the Medellin Gran Banda on a Sound Sport tour. That was his first experience playing a horn in an ensemble, he says; previously he’d played timbales with Latin orchestras in his hometown.

Suspecting in April it was too late into the season to get a marching spot with a DCA corps, Elkin wrote to several corps seeking a volunteer position, “and Colts director Vicki (Schaffer MacFarlane) was the first to answer with the beautiful YES!” he recalled. While with the Colts, from June 13 through July 29, Elkin was part of the props crew. “Vicki talked to one of the MBI staff members about my situation, and here I am! Just a month before DCA finals – I still can’t believe it!”

Back home in Colombia, Elkin receives support from brother Christian and sister Nathalia, his parents (Fernando and Mildred), and his “beautiful and wonderful” daughter Mariana, who celebrated her sixth birthday on July 29, the same day he left the Colts in Atlanta for the Twin Cities. “That wasn’t easy,” he says.

Even though he’s getting to play for only part of this season with MBI, Elkin says he wouldn’t dismiss an opportunity to spend an entire summer with the corps.

So how might he parlay his drum corps experience when he gets back home?

“I think that I should help instructor friends, members and marching bands in my city when I go back to my country,” he said. “Being with Colts and Minnesota Brass has given me a lot of information and a wonderful experience that I would love to help people [have] who want to live the same adventure.”

DCI Minnesota Returns Featuring the US Marine Drum & Bugle Corps

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DCI Minnesota is being presented by the U.S. Marine Corps in 2016, and will feature a rare appearance by the U.S.M.C. Drum & Bugle Corps, “The Commandant’s Own,” who are in demand around the country and will be traveling to Minneapolis following their weekly Friday evening parade at Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C.

More than 2,000 musicians and dancers will perform with some 20 drum and bugle corps from around the country, including defending world champions the Blue Devils from Concord, Calif., and past champions Madison Scouts from Madison, Wis.; Vanguard from Santa Clara, Calif.; Cavaliers from Rosemont, Ill.; and Phantom Regiment from Rockford, Ill. Minnesota Brass will also appear presenting their 2016 production, “Now Boarding.”

The event is expected to draw some 7,000 spectators to TCF Bank Stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.  Tickets are on sale now at dci.org

 

Minnesota Brass, Bands Form Bonds at Vikingland Festival

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Minnesota Brass will join six other units in the inaugural Minnesota Drum Corps Premiere on June 25 as part of the 32nd Annual Vikingland Band Festival Parade Marching Championship in Alexandria, Minn.

The show will be held at the Alexandria Area High School’s Viking Savings Bank Field at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, June 25. MBI will be joined by the Govenaires of St. Peter and Minneapolis’ Chops Inc. in presenting their 2016 field shows for the first time. Also appearing will be the Calgary Stampede Showband, Calgary Stetson Show Band and Calgary Round-Up Band, all from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The host Alexandria Marching Band will also perform.  Tickets to the show are $6 in advance; $9 at the door.Vikingland Band Festival

Show co-founder Ken Martinson, an Alexandria native who now lives in Nashville, Tenn., said the unjudged show will feature the presentation of a “fan favorite” award, noting the show will be “nice for the corps to participate in a supportive and relaxed dress rehearsal for everybody to debut their shows.”

The following day will feature the annual Vikingland Band Festival Parade Marching Championship, a bands-only event that will feature more than 2,000 performers representing 24 units, including 19 in competition and the units appearing Saturday night.

Martinson, whose drum corps experience was playing with the Hutchinson (Kansas) Sky Ryders, is also a judge, instructor and founder of the popular marching.com website. For him, the highlight of the weekend is “the camaraderie that exists between MBI and all the high-school bands that compete. Most of MBI’s staff has either marched with or are on staff with the high-school bands appearing at Vikingland. Plus, the audience gets to see both the field-show and street sides of the marching activity during the weekend.

“We tend to forget there is always a new audience among the kids,” he said. “A good number of people here have never seen a drum corps show. This event introduces a whole new generation to the drum corps activity, and lets them know that after graduation the all-age corps offer an opportunity to continue to perform.”