About Ascend

Our 4E Mission Areas:

Education

Ensembles

Events

Entertainment

The mission of Ascend Performing Arts is to further the education and growth of young people through participation in high-caliber performing arts programs that promote teamwork and discipline, develop leadership skills, and enhance self-esteem.

Since 1958, Ascend Performing Arts has grown to become a multi-faceted, youth performing arts organization dedicated to elevating life performance through the pursuit of excellence.

Educational outreach in grade school, middle school and high schools in the Denver-metro area and is designed to inspire and engage young people in the arts for life.

The goal of the Ascend Education Program is to Promote & Support the performing arts through initiatives such as BKXperience Clinics, Spark! Ideas Conferences, and other music education initiatives.

Learn from some of the best educators in the marching arts activity and experience what it is like to go through an audition with the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps, Blue Knights Percussion Ensemble, and Blue Knights Winds.

High school and college marching band students to learn the methods and techniques taught by the best in the marching arts activity. Sessions include marching fundamentals, ensemble technique, music instruction, performance techniques.

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Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps

Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps is a nationally touring marching arts ensemble that competes in Drum Corps International World Class. Participants are 14-21 years of age and create a live musical marching performance incorporating brass and percussion instruments with highly choreographed dance and movement.

Blue Knights Percussion Ensemble

Blue Knights World Percussion Ensemble is a Denver, CO based marching arts indoor ensemble that competes in the Rocky Mountain Percussion Association and Winterguard International Independent Percussion circuits in World Class.

Blue Knights Winds

Blue Knights Winds is a Denver, CO based marching arts indoor ensemble that competes in the Rocky Mountain Percussion Association and Winterguard International Independent Winds circuits in Open Class.

Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps

Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps is a nationally touring marching arts ensemble that competes in Drum Corps International World Class. Participants are 14-21 years of age and create a live musical marching performance incorporating brass and percussion instruments with highly choreographed dance and movement.

Blue Knights Percussion Ensemble

Blue Knights World Percussion Ensemble is a Denver, CO based marching arts indoor ensemble that competes in the Rocky Mountain Percussion Association and Winterguard International Independent Percussion circuits in World Class.

Blue Knights Winds

Blue Knights Winds is a Denver, CO based marching arts indoor ensemble that competes in the Rocky Mountain Percussion Association and Winterguard International Independent Winds circuits in Open Class.

Drums Along the Rockies

DENVER, CO - Colorado’s premier marching music event, is annually one of the best and most popular events of its kind in the world.
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Corps Encore

OGDEN, UT - Every summer, a variety of competitive junior drum and bugle corps from all over North America stop in Utah on their national tours in preparation for the DCI World Championships. Held at Weber State University’s beautiful Stewart Stadium, join us as the world’s top drum corps entertain an enthusiastic crowd and battle for top honors at Corps Encore.
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West Texas Drums

CANYON, TX - New this year! Four of the world's best Drum and Bugle Corps perform in Canyon, Texas at Buffalo Stadium on the campus of West Texas A&M University.
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Friendship Cup

DENVER, CO - The Friendship Cup Marching Series is a competitive venue for Colorado bands during the fall marching band season. Friendship Cup marching band competitions are based on “band size” classifications and are judged by the finest music adjudicators in the nation.
Registration Open

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Tao-Yuan Music Festival | 2017 F1 Gulf Air Grand Prix Bahrain | Keith Urban | Taylor Swift | 2015 Alpine World Ski Championships | Denver Broncos | Denver Nuggets | Colorado Rockies | Colorado Avalanche | Colorado Rapids | The Colorado Symphony | … and hundreds of thousands of audiences since 1958

Let us perform for you next!

Ascend Entertainment for your next Conference, Convention, or Special Event

What is Ascend Performing Arts?


About Ascend Performing Arts 

Since 1958, Ascend Performing Arts has become a multi-faceted, youth performing arts organization dedicated to elevating life performance through the pursuit of excellence. Ascend Performing Arts is recognized as the Rocky Mountain region’s most visible performing arts organization. Programs such as the internationally acclaimed Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps, the 4-time Winter Guard International Champion Blue Knights Percussion Ensemble, and Blue Knights Winds play an important role in providing high-caliber performance ensembles for thousands of youth performers each year. Ascend Performing Arts also produces the Broncos Stampede Drum Line and Broncos Brass to entertain tens of thousands of NFL fans at Denver Broncos home games every season. Educational programs such as the BKXperience allows students of a variety of performance levels to learn from the best educators in the marching arts activity. Ascend Events, such as the Drums Along the Rockies and Corps Encore drum corps shows and the Friendship Cup high school marching contests, provide a stage which showcases the world’s top young musicians at the highest level. For more information, please visit AscendPerformingArts.org or call (303) 777-1937 or email Info@AscendPerformingArts.org.

Background

Since its inception in 1958 as a drum and bugle corps, the Blue Knights has developed into a multi-faceted youth performing arts organization which serves thousands each year.  Performing arts programs, educational outreach, and multiple performance events all speak to an organization that has evolved through time, meeting the needs of the Blue Knights and the community it serves.

In 2009, the Board of Directors of the Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps, a member of Drum Corps International, began the process of reorganizing to create a framework which would more accurately express the scope and impact of the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps, better positioning the organization for future growth and funding. In 2010, after a thorough re-branding process, the Board of Directors announced Ascend Performing Arts as the name of their umbrella organization. Ascend Performing Arts is home to the Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps, Blue Knights Percussion Ensemble Programs and Event Management, such as Drums Along the Rockies, Corps Encore, and the Friendship Cup, an all-Colorado high school band competition.

Annually, Ascend Performing Arts programs and educational outreach clinics directly impact over 1,000 youth with hands-on instruction, and more than 3,400 students with the opportunity to attend and/or participate in our clinics and programs. In addition, over 15,000 people attended events developed and produced by Ascend Performing Arts. Combine this with two performing programs touring nationally, and the organization touches the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in one year alone.

Ascend Performing Arts Programs

The Ascend programs play an important role in providing for a higher quality of life.  Unlike the vast number of opportunities in sports, there are few extracurricular arts activities available in our schools today. Ascend programs provide a much-needed outlet for those interested in music and dance. The organization provides opportunities for musicians to expand their level of skills while developing them into contributing citizens. Some of the functions of Ascend include organizational support of the programs, such as finances, media relations, staffing and personnel management, supplies procurement, materiel storage and maintenance, service contracting, facilities leasing, scholarships, internships, staff development and continuing education, equipment sales and services for hire (e.g. show design, music arrangement, small ensembles for parties and events).

Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps
Blue Knights Indoor Percussion Ensemble
Blue Knights Winds
Ascend Educational Outreach Programs

The following programs are produced by Ascend Performing Arts, Inc. in partnership with the Denver Broncos.  Ascend recruits the players and are responsible for music and programming during home Bronco games. The Broncos pay a stipend to Ascend Performing Arts.

The Broncos Stampede Drum Line
The Broncos Brass Horn Line

Ascend Performing Arts Events

Ascend Events produce and sponsor the platforms upon which young people achieve excellence and produces important funds for general operation of the organization. Ascend Events include:

Drums Along the Rockies drum & bugle corps show, Denver, CO
Drums Along the Rockies-Boise drum & bugle corps show, Boise, ID
Corps Encore drum & bugle corps show
, Ogden, UT
• 
The Friendship Cup Series Marching Band shows, Colorado

Program Accomplishments

Members of Ascend Performing Arts ensembles gain a transformational life experience through the lessons that competitive performance uniquely provides. Attendance at Ascend sponsored clinics and participation in one of our band competitions provides a large number of students an experience that rewards, motivates and inspires them to reach for higher levels of performance in all endeavors. And all Ascend sponsored events create an opportunity for anyone to support and celebrate the accomplishments of youth performance at the world-class level.

Inspired by their experience, many Ascend Performing Arts members touch the lives of students throughout the Denver Metro Area, nationally, and internationally. At the Colorado State Band Championships, 80% of the high school bands competing were instructed by individuals who received their training through Ascend Performing Arts programs. Countless others continue to share their passion by instructing high school bands, color guards, percussion ensembles and various other performance groups throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia.

Using skills gleaned through their participation, our former members have developed into effective leaders in the areas of music, becoming professional performers, instructors, and band directors at both scholastic and collegiate levels. Others have found great success in areas of business, finance, law, medicine, education, philanthropic and the military—up to the rank of Vice Admiral in the United States Navy.

All of these current and former members of Ascend Performing Arts programs mentor a love of music performance while instilling the discipline, work ethic, social and team- building skills necessary for success in life.  All youth have a need to belong. Unlike the vast number of opportunities in sports, there are few extracurricular arts activities available in our schools today. Ascend provides a much-needed outlet for those interested in music and dance.  The organization provides opportunities for musicians to expand their level of skills while developing them into contributing citizens.

» Read more about the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps history and historical scores

» Read about the Blue Knights Percussion Ensemble history and historical scores.

Values: Instructional and Competitive Philosophy

“The mission of Ascend Performing Arts is to further the education and growth of young people through participation in high-caliber performing arts programs that promote teamwork and discipline, develop leadership skills, and enhance self-esteem.”

The Blue Knights organization strives to seek the highest caliber instructional staff to accomplish the stated goals of the organization. Throughout its history the Blue Knights has been blessed with an instructional staff which understands that the positive development of our youth participants is the vehicle for their own self-fulfillment. Our activities provide us with an unparalleled opportunity to make meaningful impacts upon the lives of our youth participants.

The youth who come to our organization, and the parents who send them, place in us the ultimate trust to do what is right for them.

A majority of our activities are, by their very nature, competitive. Each individual organization is responsible for developing and assimilating our philosophy to its members, staff, volunteers and parents, in the Blue Knights organizations. The philosophy of our units as competitive organizations is the sole responsibility of the upper management.

Our philosophy, simply stated, is to be as competitive as possible on our arena. Utilizing our Mission Statement as our foundation, through providing our membership with a quality program and a staff of skilled designers and instructors, competitive success will be a natural by-product of our endeavors.

In the Blue Knights, we define “winning” as doing the best possible job, both on AND off the field of competition. Competition can indeed be an ugly experience unless we keep in mind just who we are here for our members. In the face of our competitive battles, we expect our staff to never let their egos and personal goals supersede the goals of our organization.


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Ken Adams

KEN ADAMS

Mark Arnold is one of the longest-serving Directors in Drum Corps International, serving as Executive Director of the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps since 1985 and as CEO of Ascend Performing Arts since 2010.

Under his leadership the Blue Knights organization has developed into one of the premier Drum and Bugle Corps in the history of the activity, recognized Internationally for excellence and innovation in the performing arts. Through the years the Blue Knights has expanded its programing and now serves thousands of young musicians and performers annually in multiple performing ensembles, events and educational programs under the umbrella of the Ascend Performing Arts.

In addition to shaping the course of Ascend Performing Arts, Mark also has played an integral role in the ongoing development and successes of Drum Corps International as a collective. He served as chairman of the DCI Board of Directors in 1994 and again from 2008 to 2013. Mark was honored as Corps Director of the Year in 2004, and was the inaugural recipient of the George Bonfiglio Chairman’s Award at the 2012 DCI World Championships, which is given to an individual each year who demonstrates extraordinary leadership and service on behalf of DCI and its performing drum corps.  Mark was inducted into the DCI Hall of Fame in 2014 and the Blue Knights Hall of Fame in 2019.

Prior to his position with the Blue Knights, Mark was the Assistant Director of the Troopers Drum and Bugle Corps from 1978 through 1983, serving alongside Director Jim Jones, one of the founders of Drum Corps International and an inaugural member of the DCI Hall of Fame.  Mr. Arnold has a degree in Music Education from the University of Wyoming and taught High School Music in Wyoming and Nebraska from 1979 through 1985.
Mark Arnold

MARK ARNOLD

Scott Factor has served on the Ascend Performing Arts Board from 2012 to 2018 as a voting member in various positions including Vice-Chairman. Since 2019 my role has been in an Advisory position.

Outside of Ascend Performing Arts i am Senior Account Executive for Baxter HealthCare.
Scott Factor

SCOTT FACTOR

I am currently an Ascend Board Member-at-Large.  I have been a volunteer with the Blue Knights since 2013.  I have been serving on the BoD since 2019.  I retired from the United States Postal Service in 2010.  Although I have never marched drum corps I am an avid fan of the activity and thoroughly support our members in any way that I can.  “We Go On”!!! 

Neil Corvino

NEIL CORVINO

Board member Kathy Black is an attorney in New Mexico practicing as a full-time litigator focused on employment and civil rights defense. She came to the law as a second career after twenty-five years in high tech with NCR Corporation, doing everything from operating systems programming to Vice President positions in engineering, customer services, and sales. She earned her JD from Lewis & Clark Law School and her BA from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Ms. Black is active as a percussionist in the Albuquerque area. Way back in 1978 she marched with the Guardsmen, including at DCI Finals in Denver.  After many years of being just a drum corps fan, she was elected to the Drum Corps International Board of Directors in January 2016 and served on that board until January 2022, including three years as chair. 

Kathy Black

KATHY BLACK

Bryant’s path to the Ascend Board of Directors, which began in 2021 as a member-at-large, traces back to his childhood. Watching the Reading Buccaneers senior drum corps practice near his grandparents’ home ignited a lifelong passion, and a student of all thing’s percussion.

Years later a family move to Colorado provided Bryant with a platform to display his passion, both on the stage with the nationally acclaimed Green Earth Percussion Ensemble and on the field as a snare drummer with the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps until his age-out year in 1984.

In his professional career as the Senior Director of Strategic Accounts at Yokohama Tire Co., Bryant credits the principles instilled by the marching arts and years on tour for his success. On a personal level, the arts played an even larger role, where Bryant met his wife, Stephanie. The Rankin’s currently make their home in South Carolina, enjoying time with their grown children, two incredible grandchildren, and their beloved brown lab, Zoey.
Bryant Rankin

BRYANT RANKIN

Retired, Director, Office of Research and Analysis, Colorado Department of Revenue Ms. Archibeque served 26 years in the area of statistical analysis for the Colorado Department of Revenue and Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. Her skills in this area assist the board in developing a strategy for statistical analysis in the area of program evaluation. She has also been a significant volunteer managing and working with volunteers for the organization and will assist the board in understanding the complex nature of the organization. Her personal experiences as a minority and female can inform and promote a more inclusive environment and agenda for the projects that the board supports.

Janet Archibeque

JANET ARCHIBEQUE

Rob Batchelder was appointed to the Ascend Performing Arts Board of Directors in May 2023, and currently serves as Vice Chair. As a member of the Senior Foreign Service, Rob has represented the United States overseas in India, Poland, Germany, Argentina, Nicaragua, Jamaica, and Namibia during a diplomatic career spanning nearly 30 years. He currently serves as Managing Director for Visa Services in the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs in Washington, DC. Rob marched in the Blue Knights hornline in 1987 and 1988, and he was Drum Major in 1989. He and his family live in Alexandria, Virginia, but his heart still yearns for Colorado.

Rob Batchelder

Rob BATCHELDER