Vanguard Cadets 2015: Local Rehearsals

After opening weekend of the Drum Corps International Tour in Northern California, the Vanguard Cadets enjoyed a brief two-day break before getting right back to work. They were met with a lot of work to complete before the next show in Sacramento, CA on July 5. Props, musical changes, and body choreography were all on the plate for the Corps to accomplish in just two weeks.


The Corps began at Overfelt High School in San Jose, CA and got right to work on changes and additions to the show. They were even treated with some beautiful skies that radiated a true feeling of being “On Cloud Nine.” Some of the most visible additions to the program include several ladders. These ladders represent climbing to achieve a true feeling of being “On Cloud Nine.”


During Act 2, you will see the Color Guard shroud Horn Line members in a white “cloud” which they play through. They simulate sound seemingly coming from nowhere.


Audiences will also be treated to the addition of live vocals at the beginning of Act 2.


Corps member Chazz Medrano is hard at work incorporating more electronic sound to further accentuate and compliment not just the Front Ensemble, but the entire Corps. Keep an ear open for some new sounds.


The Corps took their group photo earlier this week and unveiled their new uniforms on July 4th for the Monterey 4th of July Parade. Here’s our Facebook post revealing the new uniforms & Dynasty drums!


If you follow us on Instagram, you will know that it is Christmas in July for the Percussion section of the Corps. Alongside the delivery of brand new Dynasty Drums, Remo boxes also made an appearance that made a great compliment to the Battery’s new look and sound. The Front Ensemble was also excited to install their newest gifts from Remo.

It’s not to late to see Vanguard Cadets this weekend. Join us in Sacramento tonight, and you will surely be treated to a completely revamped Vanguard Cadets!

SCV 2015: California Tour

The last two weeks have been a whirlwind of travel and excitement for the Corps as we proudly debuted our 2015 program, “The Spark of Invention,” to eager audiences across our home state of California.

It all started at Sierra High School in Tollhouse, CA, where we set up camp for one last week of spring training. Although it may have been easy to coast through to the end of pre-tour, the members worked hard, giving added effort to be sure our final product was polished and clean. After much anticipation we also unveiled our new uniforms and guard costumes, a look that provides a fresh spin on the tradition and class of our organization. We would once again like to thank Stanbury Uniforms and A Wish Come True for making us look great!


Our debut performance in Fresno on Friday, June 19, was met with outstanding response from the both the judges and the audience. We took second place at the MidCal Champions Showcase with a score of 70.60 and placed first in the percussion sub-caption. The next day was DCI West, our first big stadium show of the season. We spent the morning rehearsing in the massive Stanford Stadium before getting cleaned up for the BBQ standstill performance. After the standstill, members and staff enjoyed a delicious dinner in great company with current and past members of the west coast corps. Our performance that night was powerful and packed with energy, earning us second place with a score of 71.90. The Percussion and Colorguard sections both performed very well and came out on top in their respective captions. The following evening in Sacramento, the corps took second place again with a score of 73.35 at the Moonlight Classic.



On Monday, June 22, we found our way back home to Santa Clara, CA for Family Day and our home show! After spending nearly five weeks on the road, it was nice to be back on familiar ground, and we were happy to be sharing a housing site with our open class counterparts, the Vanguard Cadets. The morning started off with pictures and a short rehearsal before lunch. Later, everyone gathered in the stadium as the Vanguard Cadets took to the field to deliver their 2015 program, “On Cloud Nine.” Next, it was our turn to perform for them. With all the cheerful support from both corps, it’s moments like these that are a great reminder of the love and support that flows through our organization. At Pacific Procession that night, the Vanguard Cadets took second place in the open class division with a score of 58.70 and we placed first in world class competition with a score of 74.90.


After four consecutive show days, it was time for a much-deserved free day in San Francisco! Busses rolled out of Santa Clara High School early Tuesday morning and the corps split up by section to go do laundry. After everyone had replenished their stock of clean clothes, we set off for Pier 39 and the Corps set off to explore and unwind in “The City by the Bay.” Our next stop was Atascadero, CA where we spent two full days rehearsing and refining “The Spark of Invention.” After receiving feedback from the judges and examining our own performance, we worked to improve the weaker facets of our production.

We came off these rehearsal days better than ever, ready to perform and hit the field once again. On Friday, June 26, we arrived in Oceanside, CA and spent the day rehearsing for the Corps at the Crest San Diego contest that night. Our score jumped considerably with the corps earning a 75.95 and placing first. The next evening we had the great opportunity to perform at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA for Corps at the Crest Los Angeles. We always perform best in large stadiums, and the crowd went wild with excitement as we were announced in second place with a score of 77.50. Our latest show was Western Corps Connection in Riverside, CA where we placed second with a score of 78.65.


Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and it is time to say goodbye to our lovely home state of California. However, we are very excited to make our way east and bring “The Spark of Invention” to audiences across the United States. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Instagram (@SCVanguard), and like us on Facebook to get more updates from the road as we continue our 2015 season!

SCVC 2015: Move Ins & Denair Camp


2015 is shaping up to be a productive one for the Vanguard Cadets, who spent the last week in Denair, CA working hard on finishing their show after a productive move-in week in San Jose, CA. Countless hours of hard work led the Corps to finishing drill with much time to polish their work before the first show in Fresno, CA.


The Color Guard has been paying close attention to not just the detail in their work, but how they fit into the show as a whole. Beyond standard choreography among themselves and the Horn Line, the Guard plays an intricate part in conveying to the audience what it is to be “On Cloud Nine.”


As soon as the brass completed learning drill, it was on to body movement to add a modern flare to their Vanguard class. Complementing the music, their new work adds a visual aesthetic that surpasses what you may have previously expected from the Vanguard Cadets.


It’s hard to determine which section pays the most attention to detail, but the unmistakable sound of the Vanguard Cadets Drum Line speaks for itself. The drums pay just as much attention to the basics as they do show music, because without a solid foundation, the music simply would not sound as polished.


The Front Ensemble takes great advantage of their time together. Having a slightly less demanding visual component to their performance than the rest of the Corps, the group does not let fundamentals slip by. Most of the Front Ensemble’s first block consists of improving technique through technical exercises, preparing them for rehearsal of show music the rest of the day. But don’t let your eyes wander too far—the Vanguard Cadets Front Ensemble is just as pleasing to look at as they are to listen to.


As the Vanguard Cadets approach their first show weekend, they are not wasting any time preparing for excellence. Director Steve Barnhill holds them to a higher standard that they strive to uphold every hour of every day. The Corps will perform four consecutive days in Fresno, Stanford, Sacramento, and Santa Clara to open their competitive season, June 19-22.

SCVC 2015: Opening Weekend

After a week long camp in Denair, CA, the Vanguard Cadets traveled south to Fresno, CA for their first show of the 2015 Drum Corps International summer tour on June 19. After a solid performance, the Corps took 2nd place with a score of 55.4.


From there, the Corps traveled to Los Altos High School in Los Altos, CA and rehearsed diligently before the next show on Saturday, June 20 at Stanford University. The DCI West show, a fan and corps favorite, served Vanguard Cadets well as they took 1st place with a score of 57.6. A more than 2 point increase from the previous night sent an a positive energy through the entire membership and staff.


After rehearing once again on Sunday, June 21 at Los Altos High School, the group packed up and headed north to Sacramento for the Moonlight Classic. A huge difference in venue and weather from the previous night proved challenging for the membership, and the Corps took 2nd place with a score of 56.65, a slight decrease from the previous night. In a bit of a silver lining to the decrease in score and ranking, the brass landed 1st in their caption and the Percussion section took their caption for the third straight night!


After traveling home to Santa Clara High School, the Corps was joined on Monday by their “elder sibling” the Vanguard Drum & Bugle Corps, and shared the site for show day rehearsals and even showcased their 2015 programs for each other. After Vanguard finished their exhibition, they serenaded Vanguard Cadets and staff standing by with a moving performance of the Vanguard corps song, “Send In The Clowns.”


Pacific Procession, Santa Clara Vanguard’s home show, draws some of the most dedicated fans to celebrate the completion of the first weekend of the 2015 tour. Both the Vanguard and Vanguard Cadets demonstrated their abilities and drew standing ovations concluding each of their performances. The Vanguard Cadets earned 2nd place with a score of 58.7 in Open Class, and a fourth consecutive 1st place ranking in the percussion caption.


Drum major Carl Huang said,”I thought that our performances went very well these past few days. Each show progressed technically and emotionally and all the members and the staff could not be more pleased with what we have accomplished.” The Vanguard Cadets resume local rehearsals on Thursday, June 25 after a well-deserved break. Their next performances are on the 4th of July. They will march a parade in Monterey, CA and give a stand still performance in California’s Great America amusement park in Santa Clara. On July 5th, they will travel north once again to the Capital Classic in Sacramento.

Who is Nikola Tesla?

“Geeks stay up all night disassembling the world so that they can put it back together with new features. They tinker and fix things that aren’t broken. Geeks abandon the world around them because they’re busy soldering together a new one. They obsess and, in many cases, they suffer.”


Born in 1856, Nikola Tesla is often considered to be one of the greatest “geeks” of his generation; a true visionary in the field of developmental science. He grew up studying physics and mathematics but soon discovered a passion for electricity, a passion that would spark a lifetime of ideas and invention. In 1884, Tesla came to the United States to work for Thomas Edison, but their differing opinions on the topic of direct current versus alternating current ultimately led to a falling out. Tesla spent the remainder of his life advocating for the use of alternating current, the system we are still using today.

Tesla has registered over 700 patents worldwide and has a long list of inventions to his credit including the laser beam, wireless communication, and florescent light. One of his most successful inventions, the Tesla Coil, is still being used today in the field of radio technology. Tesla Coils, picture below, are uniquely powerful in their ability to create very large electrical fields with arcs reaching well above one million volts.

tesla_coil_t20Unfortunately, Tesla did not always receive credit for his inventions. His research in the field of electromagnetism helped birth the technology that would later become the X Ray, a discovery that is credited to William Conrad Roentgen. Upon their initial discovery, X Rays were even believed to cure ailments such as blindness, but it was Tesla who warned of their dangerous side affects. The second movement of our program, “Virus Attack,” draws on Tesla’s X Ray research and his exploration of electricity.

Surprisingly, Tesla’s didn’t enjoy a life of fame and fortune. Because he lived in a time where the world demanded practical and profitable results, his inventions and ideas didn’t receive the praise and appreciation they deserved. After spending years cooped up in his lab, Tesla began to suffer from hallucinations, making it difficult for him to differentiate between his imagination and reality. In fact Tesla’s claims that one of his closest relationships in life was with a dying white pigeon who he had been caring for outside his New York apartment. This touching story of love and loss, paired with the eerie melodies of “Pure Imagination,” is the inspiration for our third movement.

“I have been feeding pigeons, thousands of them, for years. But there was one pigeon, a beautiful bird, pure white with light gray tips on its wings; that one was different. She understood me and I loved her.” – Nikola Tesla

A Viewer’s Guide to “The Spark of Invention”

As we count down to our debut performance at the MidCal Champions Showcase in Fresno, CA on Friday, June 19, we would like to take this opportunity to provide some insight to our 2015 program, “The Spark of Invention.” Through the remainder of the week, keep an eye out for new and exciting information coming your way!

“The Spark of Invention” is a show that explores that thrilling moment when an idea becomes reality. The exciting glimpse of your imagination springing to life. In four movements we examine a range of ideas, emotions and inventions. We dive headfirst into the life and times of Serbian inventor Nikola Tesla, drawing inspiration from his creative genius to build an innovative musical and visual program.

“I do not think there is any thrill that can go through the human heart like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success.” – Nikola Tesla

Rather than tell a narrative of Tesla’s life, we aim to capture the essence of his knack for invention through taking risks and making bold choices with our staging, musical selection, and equipment. We embrace that inventive spirit by pushing the boundaries of where we’ve gone before. Taking something familiar to everyone and putting a fresh spin on it.

A good example of this is how we begin our program with with a very literal interpretation of a familiar piece of music: Invention No. 13 in A Minor by Johan Sebastian Bach. One of thirty short musical “Inventions and Sinfonias” by Bach, this piece was originally written as an educational tool for his keyboard students. Today, it is a staple in a young piano students’ repertoire. As we travel through the first movement, the corps presents interesting variations and translations on Bach’s original theme until our designers have created a new work all together. In this way, our program begins with a true “Spark of Invention.”

Vanguard, by definition, is “a group of people leading the way in new developments or ideas.” And here we are, headquartered in the heart of the Silicon Valley, witnessing the culmination of Tesla’s creative intuition every day. This program gives us an opportunity to live up to our name and the driving spirit of our home, and show the drum corps world what we have to offer.

SCV 2015: Week 4

Our fourth week of spring training came with a nice change in scenery as we left the mountains of Northern California behind and transitioned to Angels Camp, CA, nestled peacefully in the Sierra Foothills between Yosemite and Lake Tahoe. We set up camp at Bret Harte High School and got straight down to business, continuing our work on “The Spark of Invention.”

Sitting at 1,378 feet above sea level, Angels Camp, CA lies along scenic Golden Chain Highway 49 which plays into the city’s rich gold rush history. What is now a quiet mountain town was once a bustling hub of energy complete with dance halls, saloons, and prosperous gold mines. American author Mark Twain even based his short story, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” on a tale he heard when visiting Angels Camp (located in Calaveras County) back in 1865.

DSC01590Last time the Corps stopped in Angels Camp was in 2011, hoping to warm up after a snowy stay in Weed. Unfortunately, the corps was met with rainy days and a soggy rehearsal field. This year we had much better luck. The sun was shining in Angels Camp, the skies were clear, and the temperatures were high. In fact, this is shaping up to be our warmest pre-tour yet with temperatures peaking over 100 degrees. Ice cold Gatorade and sunscreen are invaluable commodities on hot days like these, and we even took a special popsicle break between blocks on Tuesday!

“This week we have been spending a lot of time refining body and style throughout our program,” said Colorguard technician Laura Gaspar. “Our early attention to detailing technique is clearly paying off and it is incredibly thrilling to watch this show come to life.”

After a special, delicious BBQ dinner on Thursday evening, the Corps geared up for their second community preview performance of the season. Over 350 people from Angels Camp and the surrounding area came out to view an open rehearsal followed by a couple runs of our program. We enjoyed sharing our rehearsal process with the crowd and delighted them with some fun facts about the organization and activity. The public really enjoyed what we had to offer, and we look forward to debuting “The Spark of Invention” on June 19 at the MidCal Champions Showcase in Fresno, CA.


On Friday, we wrapped up our time in Angels Camp with one last full day of rehearsal capped off with a late night pool block. A nice evening swim was a great way to simultaneously celebrate our members’ hard work and beat the California heat. Then, on Saturday, we had time for a little morning rehearsal before loading the busses and making the trek to Tollhouse, CA where we will finish up our spring training.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Instagram (@SCVanguard), and like us on Facebook to get more updates from pre-tour in Tollhouse and throughout the rest of our 2015 season. Also, be on the lookout for some special posts and our uniform release coming up later this week!