Drums, bugles and more at Metamora

Adam Larck

Music will be plentiful at Malone Field at Metamora High School tonight as Metamora hosts the River City Rhapsody Drum and Bugle Corp Exhibition.

This is the third year that Metamora has hosted the event after connections helped bring the event in a few years ago.

“We had some connections through the boosters with their organization,” Chris Render said. “One of the band parents contacted us looking for a place to host.”

The gates open at 5 p.m., with the show starting at 7 p.m. Tickets range from $20-34 at the gate.

“We’re really looking forward to the show here,” Bradley Harris, director of operations for the Blue Stars, said. “We’ve had a great relationship with Wally Parks and Chris Render here at Metamora High School.”

This year’s event will feature six major drum and bugle corps: Blue Stars, Phantom Regiment, Madison Scouts, Spirit of Atlanta, Cascades and Colt Cadets.

“It’s usually the same number (of bands),” Render said. “That’s never dictated by us. That’s always dictated by the Drum Corps International. There are usually no more than 15 groups per evening, maybe less than that.”

Many of the corps come in earlier in the week and practice at area schools, such as Metamora and Morton.

For the Blue Stars, which formed in 1964, this is just one of the many performances they will do this summer.

Harris, in his second season with the corps, said that they will play in Wisconsin, Atlanta, San Antonio and more before finishing at the DCI Finals in Indianapolis.

“We have about an 11,000 mile tour this summer with about 36 competitions this year all through the country,” Harris said.

The corps features 115 members from all over the U.S., including five international students.

Members audition in November, and selected members then meet once a month to practice in the winter before starting spring practice in mid-May.

“This year our show is ‘Blue World,’” Harris said. “It’s based on the music of Antonin Dvorak’s ‘New World Symphony.’ It’s his Symphony No. 9.”

They are also performing music from the upcoming movie Robin Hood: Ghosts of Sherwood.

This year, Render is hoping that there will be “great weather” for the event, which he said would be anything other than rain.

“The turnout has been good,” he said. “We’d love to see it get even better. We had a decent crowd for the first time, but we had some rain problems. There was always something getting in the way that kept people away.”

The second year had the same weather problems right before the show.

Besides hosting the event, Render and Parks encourage band students to come out and get firsthand experience of the practices.

“I just had some of my color guard instructors come out and watch them rehearse,” Render said.

The Rhapsody also has a current and alumni tie for the high school.

“This is a real special year,” Render said. “We have a group called Colt Cadets coming. We have a tube player, his name is Alex Kasper and he’ll be performing in this group. He’s about to start his sophomore year in high school.

“We had a group that came here for the last two years called Legends Drum and Bugle Corp that had Carrie Rude. She’s marching with them right now. Unfortunately, they won’t be here (today), they’re stationed someplace else. But, an alumnus of us I’m really proud of is Carrie’s brother, Craig Rude. He graduated a couple years ago and is at SIU-Edwardsville. A long story short, he’s a member of Phantom Regiment.”