From “Malagueña” to “Jesus Christ Superstar,” Madison Scouts developed a recognizable image and sound over decades of performances — one that takes risks, plays fresh music, and brings audiences to its feet.
Loud, Proud, and Pleasing the Crowd.
For 2023, the voice — or, more accurately, the pen — behind much of that growth is back in the fold, a key piece of the puzzle in carrying that same familiar Madison Scouts brand into an evolving era of drum corps.
This past fall, Scott Boerma — a world-renowned composer, arranger and band director with decades of creative experience with the Madison corps — returned to his role of Madison Scouts brass arranger for the upcoming drum corps season.
“I'm kind of the guy that's just been through all the eras with this corps, and my blood bleeds green,” he said “I still have this undying love for the organization. It's been a thrilling experience to be back in the fold.”
Boerma’s last stint with the corps was a brief one, lasting from 2015-2018. Previously, he’d worked with the corps from 1989-2006, a stretch which featured a streak of eight top-six competitive finishes.
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Current program coordinator Jason Robb was a member of the Madison Scouts during Boerma’s first long stint with the corps. As the years passed since his move into the head of the corps’ design staff in 2019, Robb has added comfort and familiarity with the role which in turn helped open the door for him to seek out Boerma’s return.
“I think as I've kind of gotten more comfortable in the organization, I've been more comfortable asking for help,” he said. “My comfortability of asking him to write the (brass score) came from me getting more comfortable in the role.”
Robb, a performer from 2002-2004 — some of his most formative years — played the mellophone parts for many of Boerma’s classic arrangements, and even carried a solo in his final season with the corps.
According to Robb, such memories drive much of his working relationship with Boerma. The two talk often about the type of experience they want corps members to have while performing the music, in hopes that it creates similarly fond memories.
“I just remember how I felt,” Robb said. “And we’re working really hard to make sure that our membership of this year’s Madison Scouts — when they take the field and they put their bugle down, or their sticks down or they catch their last toss — they get that same feeling.”
“The Madison Scouts shaped who I am as a person,” he added. “And Scott was a big part of that. “I constantly talk to him about how I remember performing his arrangements, when we're creating the program for this year.”
Boerma admits that drum corps arranging and overall design in 2023 is a much different beast than it was during the earlier parts of his career. While he was involved with the corps as recently as 2018, the vast majority of his Madison Scouts work came in a very different era of the drum corps activity.
He described several noticeable changes to the Madison Scouts organization and drum corps as a whole, including the development of more complex and layered programs.
“The way horn books are written these days are dramatically different,” he said. “It was music, and then we had drill that went along with music. So, I wrote differently back then.”
“There's a lot more variety of things that happen in a musical program and a visual program,” he added. “The combination of the elements is so much more important than back in the 1990s.”
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Change is abundant, but it’s many of the constants that drive his work in 2023.
Ultimately, the sense of constant innovation, experimentation and reinvention, all while recognizing the importance and depth of the Madison corps’ rich history and image, has been apparent in any and every era of Boerma’s work with the organization.
“That's a pretty tall order,” he said. “I mean, it's something I remember from forever ago, the same old conversation, ‘How do we make sure that we give them what they want and give them something to be proud of?’ And it's still the same today, it's a constant aspect of how we think about it.”
Luckily, despite the added complexities, his experience with Madison Scouts’ 2023 design team has been far from chaotic.
Both Boerma and Robb described a fluid, synergetic and all-around enjoyable process amongst the corps’ designers.
“Jason runs a highly-organized and respectful process,” Boerma said. “I've never been a part of a design team where I don't sit there late on a Sunday night for three hours talking about all the visual things, and then finally, we talk about music a little bit. He sets it up so we're not wasting anybody's time.”
“I have to knock on wood somewhere,” Robb joked. “It’s probably been one of the easiest design processes I’ve ever been a part of.”
And according to Robb, seeing the work of Boerma — an influential figure in both his drum corps experience and in the overall growth of the corps’ brand — firsthand has, simply, been a joy.
“It’s been really fun,” Robb said.
View Madison Scouts' 2023 DCI Tour Schedule