The 2014 DCI season was one for the history books. There was silence in the crowd of over thirty thousand fans as the judges announced the bronze medalist for the season. The Cadets had not lost to the Bluecoats once all summer, and for the first time in the corps history, the Bluecoats received the silver medal for the 2014 DCI season, beating the Cadets by 0.30 points and taking second in both GE captions and visual analysis.
This fantastic drum corps is now pushing toward the 2015 season, where there will be much anticipation as to what they will bring to the table. Will they have what it takes to bring a new name to the table of DCI champions? The Founders Trophy awaits.
Three new members of the Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corps are USAAAMB alums of this past 2015 season, Aly Harris (Color Guard), Prashant Chakradhar (Baritone) and Justin Cohen (Trumpet). While all three are exemplary leaders, Prashant and Justin received leadership awards during Bowl week for the examples they set in the USAAAMB. Prashant Chakradhar was the winner of the Calvin P. Titus award for the east and Justin was awarded the 2015 Nathan Pernick Leadership Award, which is named after one of our alums that passed away. Both of these incredible leaders are about to leave for the summer and become a part of what may be the new leading corps of this decade. They will face many hard days, but will grow stronger as reciprocation to their commitment.
In speaking to these two All Americans, I was able to ask them about their experience in the marching arts, and how they see music as a part of their life.
Prashant was the first I began talking to, and I learned how his story for going out for Corps is quite different from others. As stated before, Prashant is a ‘ 15 alumni of the USAAAMB, and while in San Antonio for the bowl game performance, he had the chance to have a conversation with Justin Johnson, one of the instructional staff members for the USAAAMB and also one of the visual instructors for the Bluecoats. Almost on a whim, Prashant asked Justin if there was any chance to still march for the Bluecoats, keeping in mind that they were already entering the second week of January. Justin forwarded Prashant to the Bluecoats staff and there he gained the opportunity to send in a video audition for the drum corps final callback camp.
From there, he was contracted, and the rest was as they say, history. He explained further how going into his first actual camp with the Bluecoats in March was an experience he will never forget.
“I had always heard from my band directors and peers that had marched that it would be one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences that I would ever have. That’s the expectation I have for drum corps this summer. Of course, my first time as a performer and a Bluecoat on the field will be like nothing I have ever imagined.”
In regards to the All American program, Prashant learned how to handle the challenges in life. Entering the experience, he held no desire to be a professional musician, and grew by applying the lessons he had learned in the USAAAMB to various parts of life.
“Learning a marching band show in roughly 20 hours proved to me that anything was possible. When I heard about the limited rehearsal time and the load of visual and musical material, I was very nervous on how I’d be able to not only hold my own in San Antonio, but also perform at the level of an All-American. Doing so and having the time of my life during the program taught me that I could achieve I set my mind to.”
As to the future, Prashant now plans on continuing music in college. He anticipates attending Centre College, a private school in Danville, KY, as a liberal arts major with concentrations in economics, math, and music. He aspires to study this odd combination between economics and music because he believes that pursuing these two seemingly different things simultaneously will teach him a lot of different ways to think about his future career.
The next student I interviewed was Justin Cohen, recipient of the 2015 Nathan Pernick Leadership Award. Justin has always been a fan of Drum Corps International, starting at a very young age. Justin and his sister listened to DCI shows together as they grew up through the marching band program in school, and she later went to march with Spirit of Atlanta in 2011 as a mellophone player. The passion and experience that she shared with him after she returned from the summer only strengthened his want to be in a World Class hornline.
Throughout Justin’s years marching in middle school and high school, he had a burning dedication toward performing in high-intensity shows. Being a section leader for two years also fueled his passion for music and the arts until he finally decided to audition.
“Having a sibling who marched really was the most influential part of me wanting to march, as she continues to tell me about the people she met, places she traveled to, and the screaming thousands that she got to perform for during the summer. I wanted that extra something, something that would bring my love for performing and intensity to an entirely different level.”
Justin described further to what a privilege it was to be a part of the 2015 U.S. Army All-American Marching Band . Part of the reason that he wanted to join drum corps was for all of the amazing people that he will meet, and it just so happens that the USAAAMB has that to offer that as well.
“I’ll never forget the people I marched alongside with, as well as the feeling of being selected and recognized simply for something that I love to do. As for the Nathan Pernick Award, I can’t say enough about how honored I feel to receive and represent an avid performer that was also a part of the All-American family.”
As he continues into college at Kennesaw State University this fall, Justin will be studying computer science so that he may later direct himself to a career in audio engineering. Justin took care in explaining how he loves creating music that sounds and feels good with others, which is very much like performing. Through his experience with being section leader, he sees himself teaching high school bands or drum corps for a short time. In all senses, he sees no way that he could give up music. The talents that have been given to him have created most of the incredible journey he has ever been on, and he does not plan on stopping anytime soon.
Both of these fine performers have learned through experience, and have an immense passion for the marching arts. Justin and Prashant will take the skills they have gained through being a part of the USAAAMB and use them to become the next great leaders of the Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corps, and to carry themselves with excellence wherever they go in life.
I would also like to make a shout out to ’15 color guard member Alyson Harris who will be marching Bluecoats this summer as well!