When members of Seattle Cascades take the field at the corps’ first Drum Corps International Tour stop of 2023, it will have been 1,433 days since the organization’s last performance.
During those 1,433 days — just a few weeks shy of four calendar years on the dot — massive worldwide events have altered society. High school and college careers have started and nearly completed. DCI Summer Tours have been canceled, reimagined, and returned in full force.
Through it all, though, Cascades’ confidence in its mission, its people, and its future has never wavered.
After inactive summers in 2020, 2021 and 2022 — each for a variety of unique reasons — the Seattle corps is set to make its long-awaited return to the DCI Tour in 2023. Seattle Cascades’ tour, which kicks off July 12 in Ogden, Utah, will culminate in an appearance at the DCI World Championships, the site of the corps’ last performance back in 2019.
“For us to compete and travel and give a world class experience, we need to be on the road,” Cascades executive director Michael Leone said. “That’s going to be great. It's going to be fun.”
SEATTLE CASCADES' 2023 TOUR SCHEDULE
The key driving force to Cascades’ return has been simple — a concerted investment in the corps’ local community.
By connecting with the faces and fans of music and marching arts in Washington and the Pacific Northwest in a variety of ways, Seattle Cascades has been able to, over time, lay the foundation for its reemergence.
“Our initiative this summer was to bring everything back to the local community and reinvest back into Seattle, Portland, Boise, Idaho,” Leone said.
“We are being invited back into the schools, we have visited over 36 band rooms with open arms, the kids are reaching out and communicating with us,” he added. “That is a huge win for us, to be able to get back to that, and help grow the marching bands in the area, and not just the drum corps.”
And if you’re looking for arguably the clearest-cut example of Cascades’ commitment to its own backyard, just walk around the corps’ rehearsal camps and staff meetings. According to Leone, more than 30 newly-hired Cascades staff members hail from the corps’ immediate geographic region.
In the process, the connections made have not only deepened Cascades’ local roots, but have in turn paid key operational dividends to the corps.
“Our administrative team is from the region, our design team is from the whole northwest region as well,” Leone said. “They've opened up their schools — our housing and our all-day rehearsals are fully-booked and ready to go already at almost no charge.”
According to Leone, student excitement is skyrocketing for Cascades’ 2023 summer tour.
The corps’ audition camp opportunities didn’t begin until December, but Leone reported membership numbers that were on par with pre-COVID shutdowns, and far exceeded the corps’ attendance at camps prior to its decision to go inactive for the summer of 2022.
“We're getting people to sign up from all over the place,” Leone said. “Our virtual auditions are blowing up. My phone has alerts on them, and they're going nuts.”
“It's great to see the membership level increase,” he added. “And what we're seeing is more members from the Northwest signing up.”
Ultimately, in Leone’s eyes, the corps’ successful return to the field has been a byproduct of reasonable planning, realistic timing, and the gradual building of a stable foundation.
1,433 days is a long time, but for the sake of Cascades' short-term excitement and long-term organizational health alike — it was worth the wait.
“Our house and our cards need to be stable,” he said. “We need to have multiple revenue streams. And that's our focus right now, because it’s about the future and sustainability, so we can give back to the community and the students.”
“The competition will come,” Leone added. “There's no reason to rush it.”