Star United Defends National Title
at DCA I&E Championships
Star United Members in Indianapolis shortly after
their dress rehearsal on August 23. Photo by Josh Talbott
United drum major Becky Saddlemire stands atop a
scarf-laden podium prior to the start of Star
United's competitive program at Rochester. Photo by
Rochester, New York, August 29, 2008
– Star United defended its championship title in Rochester on
August 29th, claiming a third consecutive Drum Corps Associates (DCA)
Mini Corps Championship.
The twenty-two person unit based in Indianapolis performed three
pieces as part of their competition program at DCA's Individual &
Ensemble event that served as the kickoff of the DCA Championship
Weekend. Star United scored a 98.33, narrowly edging out Mass
Brass, a competitive unit consisting of Boston Crusader
Star United's placement afforded them an invitation by DCA to
perform at DCA Finals (in exhibition) following the performance of
the Reading Buccaneers and preceding the announcement of
caption awards and final placements for the DCA corps.
Star United's competitive program included the world premiere
of a new work by Josh Talbott entitled Fly! The original
featured percussion accompaniment composed by Drew Schnieders and
featured mixed meters and features each section of the brass section
individually and collectively throughout the piece, culminating in a
frenzied homage to Don Ellis' Niner Two at the piece's
Star United performs before approximately 2,000
spectators at the DCA Minicorps Championships in Rochester,
New York. Photo by Amber Sears
Star United demonstrated its subtle side with Talbott's
arrangement of Pie Jesu, from John Rutter's Requiem.
The piece features solo work by Jeff Banyots (Tuba), Jeff Appel
(baritone), and Brian Frederick (trumpet).
Star United members share a group moment in the
loading dock following the announcement of scores. Photo
by Scooter Pirtle
Ron Nelson's Rocky Point Holiday closed the competitive
program. This arrangement was created by Jim Prime originally for
the University of Massachusetts and is a faithful recreation for
B-flat and F instrumentation of the arrangement Prime created for
the Garfield Cadets that was featured in their 1982 and 1983
Becky receives the judges
packet as Star United is awarded the championship by DCA's I&E Coordinator Dick Pronti.
Members of the corps departed
Indianapolis on August 28th and rehearsed at Victor High School in
Victor, New York. A run through was performed for members of the
Victor High School marching band, followed by more rehearsal.
A full day of rehearsal at Victor High School on the 29th was
followed up by a visit to a rehearsal of the San Francisco
Renegades by several Star United members, offering Star
United members a chance to reconnect with Renegade members and
Star alumni Tiffany Carrico, Dave Leland, and the venerable Thu
Star United traveled to the Rochester Convention Center on
Friday evening for a relaxed warm-up on East Main Street and a
spirited performance that was well-received by approximately 2,000
spectators. Following the announcement of scores, Star United
performed a victory concert in the loading dock of the convention
center overlooking scenic South Avenue that concluded with the
Kerchner arrangement of When You Wish Upon a Star.
Unlike previous years, Star United continued to rehearse
through the weekend in order to prepare for the exhibition in front
of the DCA finals audience on Sunday evening. A brief Saturday
rehearsal and run through was followed by a half free day.
Star United prepares for
a runthrough at Victor High School in Victor, New York.
The school graciously allowed the corps to rehearse on
rehearsal and sound check occurred on Sunday. The corps ventured to Timm and Linnea Knoerzer's residence for breakfast and rehearsal. Linnea is
an alumi of Star of Indiana and Timm, a veteran of the
Garfield Cadets opened their home to the corps for the second
year in a row, allowing the corps time to improve their performance
and enjoy additional free time.
Knoerzer, Star of Indiana alumni, at the stove
preparing breakfast for Star United and guests.
Timm and Linnea allowed the corps to invade their home,
even rehearsing and performing in their formerly quiet
A final warm-up occurred near Paetec
Park, followed by an exhibition performance for approximately 12,000
attendees of DCA finals. Of particular note was Carl Ruocco's
presence at the exhibition. Ruocco has been the staff coordinator
for the Reading Buccaneers since 2005 and was an integral
part of the Star of Indiana organization. His beaming smile
on the sideline during the performance was much appreciated by the
Star United, many who participated with the corps during his
time with the organization. Of course, Ruocco's smile grew even bigger after Reading was
announced as the winner of their fourth DCA Championship in the row
minutes following Star's performance.
Star United consists of alumni from Star of Indiana,
Brass Theater, Blast!, Blue Stars, Bluecoats,
Black Knights, Bluegrass Brass, Golden Valiants, Imperial Guard,
The Kilties, Limited Edition, Madison Scouts, Northmen, Pride of Cincinnati, The Commandant's
Own Drum and Bugle Corps, and the Santa Clara Vanguard.
Star United mellophone section members (l-r) Sean
Conley, Scooter Pirtle, Angie Mefford, and Mike Chromik
enjoy libations following the competition. Accused of
"witchery" by some members of the audience, this smooth
section negotiated a highly technical and exposed
musical book with trademark Star of Indiana
poise and passive aggresivity.
Very special thanks are extended to the following staff and
consultants who offered their expertise in assisting the corps in
the development of the Star United 2008 program (presented in
Nick Angelis, Percussion Arranger Nancy Brown, Operations Wes Bullock, Visual Consultant Sean Conley, President Ed Cooning, IV, Brass and Visual Consultant Bob Dubinski, Ensemble Consultant Julie Gerhardt, Brass Consultant Brad Green, Brass Consultant Matt Harloff, Brass Consultant
Joey Keays, Yoga Consultant
Brent Montgomery, Percussion
Consultant Jim Prime, Jr., Arranger Josh Talbott, Program Director and Composer/Arranger Eric Sabach, Visual Consultant Drew Schneider, Percussion Arranger Amber Sears, Tour Coordinator Donnie Van Doren, Spiritual Leader
Additional thanks are extended to the following people and
institutions instrumental in the success of Star United:
Avon High School, Avon, Indiana
Carmel High School, Carmel, Indiana
Drum Corps Associates
Evans Drum Heads
Plainfield, High School, Plainfield, Indiana
Rudy the Bus Driver (Three cheers!)
Star Travel Services
Victor High School, Victor, New York
Jeff and Sandy Wright
Interested in participating in the 2009 Star
United? Contact us for info! (email).
Also, veterans of the Star organization are encouraged
to begin reconnecting with fellow alumni at the
staralumni.org web site. An important announcement
regarding 2010 will be coming soon. Start getting
back into shape for a field show!
in participating in an all-age group in your area? Check
Drum Corps Associates to find an organization near
Click here for a partial video of Star United's Exhibition
performance at DCA Finals in Rochester,
When You Wish Upon a Star
performed at DCA Finals (exhibition) Video by Kim Sommer.
Fly! at a rehearsal at
Knoerzer's back yard. Video by Kim Sommer.
Pie Jesu at a rehearsal at
Knoerzer's back yard. Video by Kim Sommer.
Rocky Point Holiday
performed at a rehearsal at Knoerzer's back yard. Video by Kim
Section of Rocky Point Holiday
performed at a rehearsal at Knoerzer's back yard.
Video by Melissa Frederick.
Portions of Minne Brass
and Star United's competition performance.