LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Drum Corps International (DCI) is a creative and innovative group where many of the world’s best musicians and performers sign up to compete in a summer tour. And over the years the Pride of McNeese Marching Band has housed dozens of these talented performers.
Director of the Pride of McNeese Dr. Jay Sconyers explained what DCI is all about, “Drum Corps International is often called marching music’s major league. People who really want to go to that next level and perform a really highly competitive show and tour during the summer and doing that. I have marched with and taught students all over the place. From England to Japan to pretty much every state in the union. We are lucky to have a number of the students here at McNeese State University here performing.”
Dr. Sconyers says McNeese has a tradition of students signing up with DCI, “On any given year here at McNeese State University we have anywhere from two or three students participating in Drum Corps to a dozen students participating in Drum Corps. We have quite the culture here. It’s great to have such a huge student representation In such an elite activity.”
Jonathan Leveque who served in the Carolina Crown Drum Bugle Corps told us what made him want to sign up, “I’ve always had a hunger for setting high standards for myself. Spring training, that’s where we are definitely 14 hours a day every single day. A lot of the shows are 10 to 13 minutes and since our instruments are wind instruments you can already imagine how difficult that would be if we didn’t do our cardio.”
Blake Kidner who signed up with the Louisiana Stars Drum and Bugle Corps says he joined for the experience, “I just fell in love with how meticulous all the music and drill were. Being able to go to Lucas oil stadium and seeing that crowd in those enormous amount of seats is absolutely fascinating. Definitely one of the best things I’ve ever experienced in my life.”
But this year their season was canceled, “Late April early May, somewhere in that neighborhood, coronavirus was really affecting the world. Drum Corps International made the decision to cancel the 20-20 season,” said Dr. Sconyers. “It’s not uncommon for a drum corps to visit 25, 26, 30 states potentially. Each night they are staying in a different location, often staying at local high schools.”
But Leveque says DCI has found a way to give those hoping for one last run a light at the end of the tunnel, “As an age out I assumed my Drum Corps career was over and I’m very glad that’s not the case. Crown has actually done a ton of things. We’re playing a lot of music from their past shows. So that was also cool because shows that I’ve seen on YouTube or at the movie theaters, you know I got to play some of that music.
And Kidner says he loves being apart of that community, “It was really nice because it reminds you that you’re a part of a really tight-knit family and they still care about you even though they don’t get to see you all of the time.”
DCI has extended its age out limit for the next year’s summer tour for members like Leveque who were not able to compete in their final summer year.