Change is a constant in the drum and bugle corps activity, as groups seek to find the perfect, magical combination of talent, inspiration, and chemistry in instructional and design teams. Sometimes these changes are corps initiated, sometimes staff member initiated. Often when these changes occur the focus is on what's going to happen in the future, and we don't take the time to acknowledge those who have contributed to our past success. I would like to recognize the incredible work of a few individuals who have been integral to the Blue Stars' accomplishments over the past few years.
When the Blue Stars reentered World Class competition in 2006, we did so with Frank Sullivan as our arranger. I still remember sitting in my kitchen in the fall of 2005 listening to the midi file of "The Gift of Freedom" and smiling from ear-to-ear as I realized we were in great hands. Frank's score for that first show was everything we needed it to be: powerful, melodic, listenable, and most importantly, memorable. These musical traits would be infused in all of his compositions for the Blue Stars, and helped to define our image as musical storytellers.
Frank always delivered the perfect music to complement the story we were telling on the field: the sweeping French countryside, the solemn heartbreak of a lost soldier, the mystery surrounding the world's foremost illusionist, the driving, aggressive soundtrack for an international secret agent, and the sounds of the deep, blue oceans - all brought to life on a football field. To hear his musical scores was to hear a show concept brilliantly envisioned in creative, unexpected and beautiful ways.
If Frank's writing was his only contribution to the Blue Stars, it would be enough to cement him as a first ballot Blue Stars Hall of Fame member. It is, however, only half the story. Frank is also an incredible teacher who devoted himself to the improvement of the corps' brass section and entire drum corps. To have Frank Sullivan in front of the corps was to know you were going to get better. His positive energy and endless knowledge made rehearsals productive and fun for everyone on the field, in the box and even in the stands.
While Frank will no longer be active in the day-to-day workings of the Blue Stars, he will continue as a trusted advisor to the organization. Most importantly, he will be always be considered a friend of mine and the Blue Stars. Words cannot express the gratitude that I personally have for Frank's contributions to the corps, so I simply and humbly say "Thank You."
Tom Aungst and Neil Larrivee
Tom and Neil joined the Blue Stars as advisors in 2009 and took over the percussion caption in the 2010 season. Having these two percussion legends in our organization has been not only a boon to our percussion program, but also to our entire drum corps. Often in this activity you don't know what you don't know, and Tom and Neil have been integral in refining and streamlining our operations and providing our membership with a world class experience that will live well into the future.
On the field, we received everything we hoped for and more from their expertise. The percussion sections were aggressive and technically proficient, with that signature Aungst sound and style. The running joke each year as the percussion score was released to the membership was that he had finally done it. He finally managed to get all the notes into the show! Thank you to both Tom and Neil for your hard work and dedication to making the Blue Stars' percussion program a success.
Finally, I would like extend my gratitude for the tremendous work and commitment of Myron Rosander, Ralph Stewart, Ryan Mohney, and all of the 2012 staff members for their dedication to the Blue Stars. Your talents and skills were on display every day, and our organization is stronger for having worked with you.
As we head into the 2013 season we will see different leadership and talents heading several of our captions from both writing and instructional positions. In the coming days we will begin making announcements about the exciting new staff, but please join me in thanking Frank, Tom, Neil and the other dedicated staff members who have helped to create memorable experiences for the Blue Stars, our members and our fans.