After 30 years with Minnesota Brass, Gavin Burnham finally got what’s been coming to him: Induction into the Drum Corps Hall of Fame.
Burnham, who currently serves as the corps’ president and corporate chief executive officer, joins an impressive list of HOF members with Minnesota Brass ties: Roger Grupp, Scotty Wild and Joel Matuzak, all currently involved with the corps; the late Frank Lozar, who died last summer, and Chris Thompson, who once wrote percussion arrangements for MBI.
“In all my years in drum corps, I can’t think of one other corps director with as much dedication, know-how and leadership skills as Gavin,” said Wild, whose own drum corps history reaches back to the 1950s. “Now add to that time on the job. Wow! Raise your glasses to Mr. Burnham!”
Gavin first marched with Minnesota Brass as a lead soprano player and soloist in 1985. Just three years later he moved into administration and served until 1994 as the corps’ head financial officer. He acted as corps director from 1995 to 2001, and has since served as MBI’s executive director and president. Among his other achievements is receiving the highly coveted Brassy award, MBI lifetime-achievement award, in 1989. During his years of service, Minnesota Brass won the Drum Corps Associates (DCA) Open Class world championship in 2011, has placed among the top three corps during the past seven years, placed in the top six for the past 17 years, and has participated in DCA championship contests for 26 years.
Grupp recalled that Gavin, as finance officer in the 1980s, was instrumental in helping MBI overcome a large and crippling debt, allowing the corps to strengthen its creative and administrative staff.
“I have framed and displayed in my office a note from Gavin from 20-plus years ago that reads, ‘This is in payment for money you gave the corps – and $10 for cab fare.’ It was for money we donated to the corps to help save it,” Grupp recalled.
“I never thought I’d get that money back. When I did, I knew corps was in good hands.”
MBI is now financially stable and enjoys strong partnerships with various associations and leaders of other corps, Grupp said.