Kim Minnotte of the Blue Stars Drum and Bugle Corps.
By Ken Mrazik Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Three Rivers Summer Music Games has been host to many of Drum Corps International's top corps during its history of competitions at Baldwin High School that began in 1995.
But never before have so many drum and bugle corps appeared in Pittsburgh just days before the DCI World Championships.
Eight corps will perform at Baldwin High School Stadium at 7 p.m. Aug. 5.
The timing couldn't be better because every corps will be primed for the DCI World Championships Aug. 9-11 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
The DCI tour began June 16, and corps have been rehearsing since mid-May.
Featured at the Three Rivers Summer Music Games are three of last season's top 12 at the World Championships. The Madison Scouts of Madison, Wis., finished 10th, the Blue Stars of LaCrosse, Wis., were 11th, and Spirit of Atlanta from Atlanta placed 12th.
Also competing will be the Glassmen of Toledo, Ohio; the Troopers of Casper, Wyo.; the Colts of Dubuque, Iowa; the Crossmen of San Antonio, Texas; and the Mandarins of Sacramento, Calif.
"Drum corps members are so dedicated that even early season shows are good," said Greg Steele, band director at Baldwin High School. "By now, they all are pretty much polished and are close to being at their best."
Although none of the top five ranked corps will be at the competition, Mr. Steele said it's a great opportunity to see pageantry at its best.
"Regardless of where these corps are ranked, they are incredibly talented groups with phenomenal shows that are worth seeing."
The Madison Scouts, an all-male corps and a perennial crowd favorite, has generated extreme enthusiasm with this season's production of "Reframed."
The show integrates portions of Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition," Bill Holman's "Malaga," Marvin Hamlisch's "The Way We Were" and "Theme From Ice Castles," and Ernesto Lecuona's "Malaguena."
Spirit of Atlanta's show "Sin City" depicts a night in Las Vegas with a production that delivers a wall of sound from a powerful horn line.
The Blue Stars program "The Blue World" explores myths and legends of vast oceans with original music written specifically for the visually enhanced production featuring various props.
The competition also will be a homecoming for many local students who are members of various corps.
Among them are Kim Minnotte, a 2009 Mt. Lebanon High School graduate who is with the Blue Stars.
Ms. Minnotte, who will be a senior at the University of Oklahoma, plays vibes (similar in appearance to a marimba or xylophone) in the corps' front ensemble.
Her father, Rick, is the director of percussion at Mt. Lebanon, a position he has held for 38 years. He served as a volunteer with the Blue Stars for the first five weeks of the tour, helping with logistics and driving corps' vehicles.
Four graduates from Norwin High School are in their first season with the Glassmen.
Chelsea Smith performs with the color guard, Carl Kurinko and Cary Cochenour are trumpet players, and Steve Pachesky plays keyboard in the front ensemble.
Another Mt. Lebanon graduate, Rocco Duranti, is in his fifth season as a baritone player with the Glassmen.
Tickets for the Three Rivers Summer Music Games, presented by the Baldwin Highlander Music Patrons and Progressive Music, are $30, $25 and $20 and can be purchased at the gate or 412-551-4336.
On-site parking at Baldwin will be restricted to handicap only because of space needed for more than 32 corps buses and 16 trailer trucks with food and equipment.
Parking and shuttle buses will be available at five locations near Baldwin High School: First Commonwealth Bank, Holy Trinity Serbian Orthodox Cathedral and Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, St. Elizabeth Church, Old Allegheny Shoppe and DeJulius Brothers.