Blue Knights-Bahrain: Strength Through Diversity

DENVER, CO – The Blue Knights will be traveling 7,620 miles to the island nation of Bahrain in the Persian Gulf to participate in the annual Formula One Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix races on April 16, 2017.

After the entertainment director of the Grand Prix’s entertainment division stumbled upon a video of the Blue Knights performing their encore show “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” by Frankie Valli, he decided he wanted to bring the Blue Knights to Bahrain this April.

This will be the first  time an American drum and bugle corps has ever performed in Bahrain or The Middle East.

“We’re lucky as an organization to have the ensembles we’ve got,” said Mark Arnold, Executive Director of Ascend Performing Arts in an interview with Drum Corps International. “We’ll be utilizing members from our Denver Broncos Stampede drum line who play at NFL football games. Most of the drummers going on the trip are alums because the Blue Knights winter drum line will be performing at the WGI Percussion World Championships the following weekend. There will also be a lot of alumni in the color guard since the WGI Color Guard World Championship weekend is just a few days before we leave.”

Performing a unique 20 minute show on the Formula One race track, the Blue Knights will feature music from their drum corps history such as Trittico, tunes from the Broncos Stampede repertoire such as Happy and pop culture greats such as Michael Jackson’s Thriller.  The Blue Knights will wear red and white uniforms in honor of Bahrain’s national colors for the opening ceremonies of the 2017 Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix.

The Blue Knights-Bahrain ensemble includes 48 brass musicians, 24 percussionists and 28 color guard members ranging from 18 to 50 years old, with over 30 years age difference between performers.

Blue Knights-Bahrain performers are predominantly local to Colorado, but with several members from other states as well. 

Timothy Fannin, a tuba player, travels to the weekly rehearsals from American Fork, Utah. He will cover over 5,210 miles by car, bus and plane to get to and from Denver before heading out to Bahrain.

Most of the ensembles’ members are current members and alumni of the Blue Knights Drum and Bugles Corps, the Blue Knights Percussion Ensemble and Ascend Performing Art’s Denver Broncos Stampede.

In addition to their members in Ascend Ensembles, members of the Blue Knights-Bahrain group also perform, or have performed in numerous other ensembles including 17 different drum corps, 14 independent winterguards, 4 independent percussion ensembles and a wide number of independent groups such as: The Denver Nuggets Skyline Drumline, a specialized drumline that performs at NBA basketball games, local cover band “HomeSlice Band” which performs at various events across Colorado and is managed by Fred Garlington, and the “Tent Show Kings”, a wedding and event band run by Broncos Brass member Kevin Roe. Also, the group includes performers from dance organizations such as “Soul Work Dancers” and “DiLuzional Entertainment” and more.

Members of the Blue Knights-Bahrain group have performed in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Elitch Gardens amusement park, on the “Wheel of Fortune” TV show, charity events, with blues musician Michael Hornbuckle and country artist Buckstein and hold jobs ranging from a Colorado  Bandmasters Association judge and a Rocky Mountain Color Guard Association judge.

Joining the trip to Bahrain will also include 1 DCI Hall Of Fame Member (Ascend Performing Arts Executive Director, Mark Arnold), 1 Rocky Mountain Percussion Association and Winter Guard International Hall of Fame Member (Broncos Stampede Drumline Manager, Dave Marvin) and 6 current band directors (Becky Paschke, Greg Haan, Ronnie Pruitt, Darryl Abrahamson, Jared Crump-Bertram and Corey Stopperan).

In addition, 43 of the 100 members are also current instructors of various area programs, and there are over 16 high schools and 5 college marching bands represented among the performers. 

This kind of trip isn’t new to some of the Blue Knights, with a number of them having traveled to Taiwan in 2014.

“Opportunities such as this trip elevate our brand here at home as well as on the world stage,” said Mark Arnold. “Yet most importantly, this trip will provide our participants with incredible life experiences far beyond that of our individual programs.”

A send off show has been set for Tuesday, April 11th at 8:00 pm at Englewood High School. For inquiries on this group, please contact: entertainment@ascendperformingarts.org.


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