A strong breeze blew in from the northeast and was blocked by bleachers at North East ISD Stadium in San Antonio Friday, June 12. Six hundred friends, family, and fans of Crossmen Marching Band sat in the shade of the south bleachers.
A distant sound like a Model T about to start echoed across the Salado Creek valley. Rehearsals from several percussion groups competed with the cacophony and added to the apprehension of what was to come.
A rainbow colored sash set off the polished shoes and black uniforms of the Crossmen Percussion Group as they prepared for their concert. Sounds from silver horns welcomed guests as they made their way into the gates of the Jerry Comalander Stadium at the Virgil T. Blossom Athletic Center.
The evening's show was opened by the 323rd Army Band. Sgt. Katherine Bolcar reminded the audience that the upcoming Sunday, June 14, was not only Flag Day but the 240th birthday of the U.S. Army, before rendering a passion-filled performance of the Star-Spangled Banner.
The Crossmen Color Guard warmed up with calisthenics as the music played. The Front Ensemble created a mood that was as cool as the breeze with their vibes. And a drumline with sounds reminiscent of Native Americans gave a metallic echo in the canyon of the stadium.
Dozens of teenagers, participants of the Crossmen Experience Day, gave a sample of what they learned earlier in the day. And then a brass and woodwind group performed a fanfare. The Drum Major Experience Company presented next. Several different high schools gave their signature salutes before awards were issued. Bands in the distance, still rehearsing, teamed with jets from the nearby airport to compete with the sounds of the brass and woodwinds.
Next up was Genesis, a band from Austin. Khaki shorts, black t-shirts, with white hats and headbands, was appropriate for a San Antonio summer afternoon. They paid homage to Andrew Lloyd Webber with "Phantom Revisited." This medley included selections from "Phantom of the Opera;" "Music of the Night," "All I Ask of You," "Masquerade," "Think of Me," "Angel of Music," and "Wishing you Were Somehow Here Again." Another popular song performed by Genesis was Elton John's Yellow Brick Road. One can follow Genesis at http://www.genesisdbc.org/.
A competition between the drumline groups of Genesis and Crossmen whetted the appetite of the audience. Genesis won the coin toss and started the battle with a samba sound. The Crossmen replied with cymbals which unearthed a distinct marching beat. Genesis countered with a jazz riff. Crossmen came back with a rock cheer.
Dean Whittaker from Yamaha instruments was one of the judges. Voting with cheers and applause, the audience proclaimed the Crossmen the winners -- but the judges chose Genesis. Their award was an artistic cymbal.
The next part of the program, "Above and Beyond," was best witnessed from above. Fortunately, the southern bleachers rise four stories above the field.
Huge mats, 30 feet long, represented clouds. The sound of birds chirping blended well with the movements of the Color Guard as they performed aviary acrobatics to the Eric Whitacre tune, "Fly to Paradise."
The theme of flight was continued with the song "Ascent" by Andrew Markworth. As the Color Guard morphed into paper airplanes, the Crossmen band shaped into an aerospace formation.
"Jubal Step" from "All Rise" by Wynton Marsalis kept the motif aloft. The song by Joe Sample/Will Jennings, "One Day I'll Fly Away," lifted the spirits of the audience even more. Kites with streamers fluttered across the field as the band seemed to sway in the breeze. Orange flags fit the song "Butterfly" by Mia Makaroff.
Such an uplifting performance brought the audience to their feet for a standing ovation.
Director Fred Morrison will keep the momentum high as the Crossmen launch their summer tour. Their 41st season will take them to Kentucky, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine, Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, and New York before arriving at Indianapolis in August for the DCI World Championships.
Follow the Crossmen at http://www.Crossmen.org/.
Read more from Don Mathis at The Rivard Report.
"Don’s life revolves around the many poetry circles in San Antonio. Find him at the writers’ group at La Taza, Sun Poet’s Society at the Olmos Pharmacy, the Blah Blah Blah at Deco Pizzeria, and the Alamo Area Poets of Texas where he serves as president. Don’s poems have been published in many anthologies and periodicals and broadcasted on local TV and national radio. In addition to poetry, he has also written policy and procedures for industry, case histories for psychological firms, and news and reviews for various media."