Blue Devils became the latest World Class drum corps to announce its programming plans for the upcoming season Thursday, when the defending World Champions from Concord, California revealed the title of their 2023 production, “The Cut-Outs.”
Here’s everything we know — and some intriguing connections — from the corps’ official unveiling.
1. Moved by Matisse
“A certain blue enters your soul.” -Henri Matisse
Blue Devils’ production, “The Cut-Outs,” is based on a period of work by French visual artist Henri Matisse — one in which he was bed-ridden near the end of his life, and created art primarily with scissors. Matisse, per the corps’ announcement, often referred to this work as “painting with scissors” or “carving into color.”
During this latter part of his life, Matisse would utilize fabric and scissors to create abstract amalgamations of various shapes. His “cut-outs” made most notable use of contrasting color and space.
“A musical and visual collage that celebrates environmental installation with shape, sound and texture,” Blue Devils’ announcement noted, “‘The Cut-Outs’ mines the tensions that lurk in all the shapes, between finish and process, fine art and decoration, drawing and color.”
2. Back to the canvas
2023’s “The Cut-Outs” marks one of several recent Blue Devils productions to be inspired — either fully or partially — by the work of famous artists.
Perhaps most directly, the corps based its 2018 production, “Dreams and Nighthawks,” on Edward Hopper’s painting, “Nighthawks.” Through the creative use of integrated stage sets, the corps brought Hopper’s work to life on a three-dimensional scale.
The corps’ 2022 production, “Tempus Blue,” also played off of inspirations from the likes of Titian, Picasso, and more.
3. An original foundation
Another shared characteristic of Blue Devils’ recent productions, the corps will utilize original works by their longtime music director Dave Glyde as an integral part of the show’s repertoire; this has been the case in each of the corps’ past six competitive productions.
This summer, Glyde’s works — listed at both the front and middle of the corps’ announced repertoire — are titled, “The Rise” and “Resistance.”
Glyde will be inducted into the DCI Hall of Fame as part of the recently-announced 2023 class.
“Dave possesses a very unique ability to manipulate a myriad of ideas from multiple people into a focused and effective thought,” DCI Hall of Fame member John Meehan said of Glyde. “Without Dave's amazing work at cultivating, coordinating, and executing these individual ideas, plus his own brilliant creativity, the Blue Devils, and drum corps, would not be where they are now.”
4. Anime inspiration
One of the more popular moments in Blue Devils’ championship-winning 2022 production, “Tempus Blue,” was the corps’ inclusion of Yoko Kanno’s “Tank!” from the popular anime series, “Cowboy Bebop.”
Blue Devils — whose Asian music influences also brought K-Pop to the drum corps scene in 2015 — will once again return to the well of intriguing music brought to life in anime entertainment in 2023.
“The Cut-Outs” will feature music from "JoJo's Bizarre Adventure" including Yugo Kanno’s “Jotaro’s Theme.”
5. Familiar notes
Blue Devils, especially in recent seasons, have become known for the corps’ ballad movements.
In 2022, it was “Moon River,” and in 2023, it’s another well-known song from the same decade — Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now.”
Mitchell’s song is no stranger to the drum corps community. Not only has it been used in the past decade by 2021 Blue Knights, 2018 Troopers, 2017 Genesis, it also served as the title — and ballad movement — for Colts’ 2017 production.
In regards to other music drum corps fans may find familiar, Blue Devils will cut one out from their own historic vault of repertoire selections in performing Bob Graettinger’s “Incident in Jazz,” which the corps last performed in 2010’s championship-winning program, “Through a Glass, Darkly.”
The Blue Devils are also set to perform American film composer James Newton Howard's majestic "Grand Canyon Fanfare" from the 1993 movie "Grand Canyon." The Devils have turned to Howard before, utilizing the piece "Jacob's Bakery" from the soundtrack to "Fantastic Beats" in their 2018 production.
"Grand Canyon Fanfare" should be a perfect fit for the Blue Devils' 2022 Jim Ott Best Brass Performance award-winning horn line. As one YouTube commentor noted about the piece, "If you saw the movie 'Grand Canyon,' Howard's soundtrack was a PART OF the movie. It set moods."
6. New voices
The first non-original listing on Blue Devils’ repertoire features an artist whose work has never been heard on the drum corps field.
That’s Cody Fry — a 32-year-old singer-songwriter whose music often features various symphonic instrument groupings. His 2022 work, “Caves” — a brief brass-and-string-heavy piece off of his “Symphony Sessions” — will serve as his music’s drum corps debut in “The Cut-Outs.
But Cody Fry isn’t the only first-time DCI artist in Blue Devils’ repertoire; the Concord, California corps will also debut the music of TesseracT, a progressive metal band, by way of the English group's 2021 song, “Of Energy,” adding to the wide-ranging styles of the corps' 2023 musical selections.
“An eclectic soundtrack bridges the past to the present, and reflects the circumstance to the vision,” Blue Devils’ announcement stated.