Cincinnati Tradition is no stranger to the DCI Summer Tour. The corps has been a regular fixture at DCI events over the years, including the 2021 DCI Celebration in Indianapolis.   

Like each of Drum Corps International’s all-age ensembles, however, 2024 will be the corps’ first year competing under the banner of the newly-created DCI All-Age Class.

But that’s not the only history being celebrated by the Ohio corps. The summer of 2024 marks 40 years for Cincinnati Tradition. 

In early planning meetings, the idea of using such a milestone as the foundation for the corps’ show design felt like a no-brainer.

“I think we were on a design call or a staff meeting one day, and (assistant director) Dan (Middlesworth) piped up, ‘Well, what about our 40th anniversary?’” program coordinator Kendra Wendeln said. “We were like, ‘Oh my gosh, yes, of course, we have to do that.’”

And as traditional anniversary symbols go, 40 years means rubies. 

Cincinnati Tradition’s 2024 program, “From a Stone,” serves as a ruby-colored nod to the corps’ 40th anniversary. 

According to Wendeln, “From a Stone” will use the imagery of a ruby, as well as subtle references to Cincinnati Tradition history, to paint a picture of the corps’ overarching story. 

“We asked ourselves, ‘How do we tell the story of the drum corps and a ruby?’” She said. “Well, it's the same story.”

“It’s the parallel story of the cutting and shaping of a ruby gemstone, and the cutting and shaping and molding of a drum corps over 40 years,” she added. “That’s the connection between the two.”

Middlesworth mentioned that early on in the design process, the many emotions often associated with a ruby in art resonated with him. In his eyes, they augmented the symbolic role a ruby could play in portraying the drum corps experience. 

“Devotion and passion, that kind of terminology,” he said. “That fits with drum corps. Our involvement in drum corps is the reason why we do it — We have a passion for the activity.”

For its music selections, Cincinnati Tradition will have a little bit of everything in terms of celebrating 40 years. 

A drum corps staple, especially in All-Age circles, Earth, Wind, and Fire’s “In the Stone” will serve as a key piece of Cincinnati Tradition’s musical puzzle. The corps has used the classic chart once in its history, 2005, but it’s been performed by countless drum corps across all classes since being released in 1979.

According to Wendeln, Cincinnati Tradition aims to take a spin on “In the Stone” that drum corps fans may never have heard across the decades of the activity.

“We thought it was really important to take some of these older tunes, that might appeal more to the older generation, but it's going to have more of that symphonic type of feel,” Wendeln said. “It'll still have that jazzy flavor. ‘In the Stone’ has the big hits, still, but it’s just more modern, as far as arranging goes.”

Additionally, Cincinnati Tradition plans to perform Mozart’s “Symphony No. 40,” juxtaposing the pop feel of “In the Stone” with a classical style that, as Wendeln mentioned, more closely fits the corps’ historic sound. The corps also has plans to include Steely Dan’s “Reelin’ in the Years,” JVKE's “Golden Hour," and Giuseppe Verdi's "Anvil Chorus."

“There’s a ton of great music,” Middlesworth said. “Our performers are just loving it. They just get so excited about it.”

Visually-speaking, of course, the corps’ production will center around all things red.

As the show’s storyline develops from the early discovery of a ruby and through the cutting and polishing of the stone, Wendeln said that neutral colors will give way to a more bold, red palette.

Wendeln spoke candidly — relative to the kinds of prop pieces and extensive design elements that have been popularized in recent years by drum corps, Cincinnati Tradition’s visual design won’t be all that involved or complex. That’s intentional.

“We’re going to march well, we're going to play well, and we're going to have some great-looking flags and textures on the field,” Wendeln said. “That’s where we're putting our bread and butter, big time, is just to come out and look really great — no big secret prop, no big ruby that reveals itself at the end.”

2023 Cincinnati Tradition
2023 Cincinnati Tradition (C. Maher)


Prior to the formation of the DCI All-Age Class, Cincinnati Tradition competed in various classifications within the Drum Corps Associates circuit, winning the organization’s ‘A’ Class championship title in 2016 and 2017. In its most recent seasons, Cincinnati Tradition competed in DCA’s Open Class division, the second-highest of three classifications.

This year, according to Wendlen and Middlesworth, the corps is trending toward a sizable membership.

“The corps will probably be the biggest it's been in a long time,” Wendeln said. “I’ve been here since 2013, and this is definitely the biggest the corps has been since I’ve been here.”

“I think we're going to surprise a few people this year,” Middlesworth added.

And as the organization celebrates year 40, its focus shifts to year one of the All-Age Class on the DCI Summer Tour, and excitement for both is sky-high. 

“The membership is so excited,” Wendeln said. “We have a lot of alumni back because they're excited about it. And I'm pumped to be on the ground floor (of DCI All-Age), to get this going with Cincinnati Tradition."

View Cincinnati Tradition's 2024 DCI Tour Schedule