Fear is one of the more universal and relatable feelings there is.
“Everyone's got their thing,” Columbians program coordinator Tyler Jones said. “Maybe darkness or deep waters. There are so many things out there that can play into this idea of fear.”
For the 2023 DCI Summer Tour, Columbians have decided to take fear by the reins and tear it down, in more ways than one.
More specifically for the title of its competitive production, though, the Tri Cities, Washington corps broke fear apart — into an acronym.
Face Everything And Rise.
“Fear is a very personal thing that can control your life in some regards,” Jones said. “So, we wanted to expand on the word fear and have this spin on it, where fear is a very conquerable thing. It's something that you can overcome.”
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The ultimate inspiration for the program came from within the corps; one of Columbians’ most prominent fears, as it were, is set to be conquered in just a matter of months, when the corps makes its long-anticipated debut at the DCI World Championships in Indiana.
Columbians — whose recent summer tours have consisted of events throughout the western United States — will not only take part in the DCI Tour’s culminating contests, but will also participate in Open Class-centric events throughout the Midwest.
Making the jump to a “full” tour was a scary prospect, Jones admitted.
“I think the real fear was, you know, ‘Are we ready for this?’” He said. “I think the scariest leap of faith for us to take was to go to the DCI World Championships.”
But the rewards of that leap are manifold. For starters, it inspired a program that will carry deep meaning for those in the Columbians organization.
“The show is literally our story from the last eight to 10 months,” Jones said. “We had to literally face this and rise from it. So, this is almost as autobiographical as you can get, in terms of our drum corps show telling our drum corps story.”
In terms of on-field representation, Columbians’ depiction of fear, visually, will center around chains.
Both three-dimensionally — in terms of tangible prop pieces — and two-dimensionally — in terms of imaging, the type of “chains” that fear can place on an individual will be manifested in the corps’ design.
“Fear is highly personal, and it's very restricting,” Jones said. “Chains have a connotation to them in terms of a limiting capacity. We’ll work with our chains to really reinforce that idea that that fear can be limiting and constricting.”
Jones, further, described the corps’ production as “dark-to-light;” its earlier portions will feature much more chaos and dissonance, before giving way to positivity and triumph as the production progresses.
In an overarching sense, though, “Face Everything And Rise” follows a path through the various responses to fear, including flight, freeze, and fight.
As Jones depicted, after opening in what he described as a “claustrophobic” visual and musical state, the corps’ representation of “flight” which follows will feature the unsettlingly sporadic music of Stephen Melillo’s “Once More Unto the Breach.”
An uptempo piece — one which, Jones said, brings with it new and exciting challenges for Columbians — Melillo’s work will help portray the idea of one who flees from their fears.
“Fear is there, the audience sees it, they hear that motif, and then we are running from our fears, and we're hiding from our fears,” Jones said. “We have that as a darker part of the show, where fear is chasing you, and you need to check your surroundings. It's really intense.”
Columbians’ ballad movement, Jones described, enters a realm of introspection. As written in Columbians’ program notes, during this portion of the production, “Frozen and unable to move, the chain of fear becomes too much to bear.”
With a score inspired by music from the Netflix mini-series “The Haunting of Hill House,” Jones said the corps’ ballad will serve as a turning point of sorts, leaving audiences with a hopeful feeling by its final notes.
“It's got this beautiful, dark tone to it,” he said. “But it actually has this almost hopeful feel toward the end of it, where you kind of can start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.”
“We want to portray this idea of reflecting on and realizing that fear is controlling us,” he added. “So, throughout our ballad is when we start to wake up to the idea that we don't need this to be controlling our lives anymore.”
The final stage of Columbians’ battle with fear revolves around fight, as members run toward their fears and aim to conquer them.
Jones noted a “swing, pop rock feel” to the first portions of Columbians’ closing movement, centered around “The Fear,” a 2018 song by The Score, before transitioning into a triumphant finale.
“We're going to be playing with this idea of freedom, both visually and musically,” Jones said. “Everybody is free from our fears; we have this celebratory moment.”
“Our goal is to get the crowd on their feet,” he added. “And feel that freedom, and feel the energy from us.”
As Jones described, Columbians’ 2023 show, more than anything, is one to which anyone can relate.
More than anyone, though, as corps members embark on a cross-country summer journey, he hopes their production will be one they can fully embody.
“For those kids doing drum corps is a scary thing,” he said. “They've got to Face Everything and Rise.”