It’s one of the oldest jokes there is: “How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice!”
Well, if you substitute “Carnegie Hall” for “the Drum Corps International World Championships in Bloomington, Ind., this August,” that’s pretty much the outlook of the Arizona Academy of the Performing Arts Academy Drum and Bugle Corps.
They’ve been rehearsing since January, and have gradually increased their practice time since then. Lately, with school being out, it’s been “every day from about 8:30 in the morning to 10 o’clock at night,” according to academy executive director Mark Richardson.
The end result of all of that practicing is a 10- to 11-minute performance they’ll do 20 to 25 times in competitions throughout the summer. Which, in previous years, meant they practiced a lot of songs for their own benefit, songs that an audience never got to see.
But this year the group is staging “A Night at the Show,” an event presented at Tempe Center for the Arts today and Saturday featuring the full 150-person company of percussion, brass and color guard performers.
“We saw how much effort and how much work the kids actually do to be at their peak performances,” says Richardson, “that the audience never really gets to see. There’s a lot of material that we actually practice that doesn’t make it onto the field.”
Not only is this the Academy’s first time putting on “A Night at the Show,” it’s also the group’s first indoor performance, which brings a whole new set of challenges.
“Never on our own have we put together several dance productions, several percussion, an entire hour and a half of production before,” says Richardson. “We’ve certainly never gone to the lengths of getting a lighting designer, incorporating video and all that kind of stuff that’s possible in a facility like this.”
Selections for the performance include Mozart, African and “Moroccan groove” pieces. Ed Coyoli, also of the Arizona Academy of Performing Arts, compares the program to “Blast!,” the popular Broadway musical featuring drum and bugle corps music.
After this weekend’s performances, the drum corps will prepare for a summer full of competition and extensive travel.
“It gives the students in the early season an opportunity to practice performing, hone in on something, get experience in front of an audience weeks before we start competing against other drum corps,” he says of “A Night at the Show.”
So ultimately it’ll be more — you guessed it — practice.
“A Night at the Show”
When: 7:30 p.m. today, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Tempe Center for the Arts, 700 W. Rio Salado Parkway
How much: $14-$17; student and senior discounts available
Information: (480) 350-2822 or arizonaacademy.org
Note: Though this is the first year for “A Night at the Show,” the Academy Drum and Bugle Corps has been around since 2001. The Arizona Academy of the Performing Arts was founded then to establish the corps, which Arizona hadn’t had in several years. Other than the Academy Drum and Bugle Corps, the academy also consists of the Arizona Wind Symphony, Academy Arts Entertainment, the Academy Independent Winter Guard, the Academy Winter Youth Guard and the Academy Summer Youth Guard. The Academy Drum and Bugle Corps auditions students from Arizona and neighboring states, ages 16 through 21, in December for roles in the 150 company troupe.