Battlefield (from KA)
Dance of Exstasy from (Danses Fantastiques)
Toccata (from Piano Concerto No. 1)
The show begins with the corps in full character – Horns and percussion as Romans, guard as chained slaves. A trumpet fanfare from Ein Heldenleben starts the show, leading into the main Spartacus theme we all know and love from ’81 and ’82. The guard comes front and forms a human chain of chained slaves. This, of course, will not last. Let the Third Servile War begin!
The drill for the 2nd piece is fast paced, involving the hornline covering a lot of ground quickly. The music is very angry, stacatto, and in your face. Drumline is another out of this world group of performers and a strong contender for the percussion trophy in Bloomington. Two slave gladiators are fighting up front during all the noice. Once there is a winner (Spartacus, I assume), the “Romans” call for him to DIE!!! leading to the first “murder” of Phantom’s show.
The third piece is when Spartacus and the slaves first revolt. The horns trade difficult licks back and forth before the drumline takes over, allowing the horns to practically run all over the field before coming back in with the classical version of a drum corps park-n-blow. The mellophones finish the song with a giant unison note, courtesy of former mello player J.D. Shaw.
The Spartacus love ballad is next, performed by a mellophone who completely nails the solo, both in terms of music as well as expression. The hornline moves backfield during the solo, forming a heart with the mello soloist as the bottom point. Unfortunately, the love doesn’t last as a Phantom DM/Roman emperor steps forward to kill Spartacus’s love interest. This is murder #2 and the most effective of all the death we experience in this show. As Spartacus carries his love’s body off the field, screaming in grief and anger, the sound of Roman legions can be heard as the slaves gather their spears and shield and face off against the Emperor’s finest. Unfortunately, history does not change as the slaves are defeated and Spartacus is killed (murder #3).
The close of the show has Phantom returning to the Khachaturian ballet. As various corps members yell out the famous “I am Spartacus!” cry from the Kirk Douglas movie, the corps builds to a big finish, reprising both the opening fanfare and the love theme while coming to the front of the field to finish the show.
While the music captions (horns/percussion) are definitely championship calibur and the arrangements do an incredible job of showcasing this fact, the visual design is holding this corps back from contending for the 2008 title. While the corps does march well, the drill itself is not very interesting and it’s easy to ignore when theatrical moments occur throughout the show, such as the various murders. This show will not pass Blue Devils or Cavaliers and will finish somewhere between 3rd and 5th, in my opinion. There are rumors of a new closer for the show, but, as of San Antonio, I have not seen nor heard it, so it’s hard to say if it exists and, if so, whether or not it will be enough to push the corps to the top.