Organizer drums up support to create competitive corps

February 03, 1997|By Suzanne Loudermilk | Suzanne Loudermilk,SUN STAFF

Tony Campbell of Towson can imagine the cheers of the crowd. Now, he just has to make that happen.

For months, he's sent fliers and letters seeking members and sponsors to form a Maryland-based, nationally competitive drum and bugle corps.

This weekend, Campbell, president of the group, moved closer to his dream.

A group of 20 people ages 14 to 21 and six staff members met at Towson State University to begin the daunting task of turning the fledgling Harbor City Commodores Drum and Bugle Corps into a polished group.

"I think it is a good activity and wanted to get my students involved," said Phil Greve, 26, a band director at North Harford High School near Pylesville, who is instructing the corps' brass section.

One of his former students, Wesley Freeman, 21, of Jarrettsville was happy to oblige his teacher. "I was looking to get out and do something," said the Harford Community College music major, who plays soprano trumpet.

The Commodores practiced eight hours on Saturday and six hours yesterday. They are set to march in the city's annual St. Patrick's Day parade March 16.

"It takes a lot of time, a lot of dedication," said Campbell, 32, a political consultant and father of a 4-year-old son, Taylor. Campbell, a former member of a Pittsburgh drum corps, said he got "bit by the bug" in high school.

Drum and bugle corps started in the United States around the end of World War I when veterans wanted to keep patriotism alive by marching in parades. The groups have evolved into nonprofit, competitive organizations.

Today, Campbell estimates, 200 corps play nationwide, with almost 60,000 members.

"It's such a family thing," he said. "You go on the road. The kids sleep on gym floors, practice 10 to 12 hours a day. It's just a great musical experience and life experience."

Already, the group -- sponsored by an Explorer Scouting Post of the Boy Scouts of America, the Towson American Legion and the Towson Recreation Council -- is scheduled to compete this summer in several Eastern states and Canada.

An optimistic Campbell predicts: "If we have 40 kids and do the program, we'll probably make finals in division at championship. I can't wait until we shake up this town."

Pub Date: 2/03/97

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