Alumni Spotlight: Ryan Bigley

Name: Ryan Bigley


What year(s) did you march in the Blue Knights?

I marched trumpet with the drum corps in 2004-2005, and mellophone with the Blue Knights Winter Brass from 2005-2007

Where did you attend high school?

Columbine High School in Littleton, CO

Education beyond high school? 

I got a bachelor’s degree in Music Education from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, and a Masters in Music Education from Adams State University in Alamosa, CO

What is your current occupation?

I currently teach band, orchestra, and guitar at Thornton High School in Thornton, CO. I also PA announce for the Rocky Mountain Vibes in Colorado Springs, as well as to the NJCAA JUCO World Series every Memorial Day weekend in Grand Junction, CO, having announced the 2018 and 2019 National Championship games. I also serve as the DJ for the Colorado Eagles hockey club in Loveland, CO.

Why did you choose to march with the Blue Knights? 

The Blue Knights always had a tradition of excellence, and it showed when I saw them for the first time at Drums Along The Rockies in 1999. From that show on, I knew that drum corps was going to be in my future. It took until the 2003 Drums Along The Rockies show to convince myself that it was time to audition, and I knew that I wanted to be part of my “hometown” corps, and be a part of that tradition of excellence.

What is your favorite drum corps memory? 

Snapping my horn down at the end of the 2005 Finals performance at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA. All I remember are the tears streaming down my face knowing I had just aged-out officially, now that the show was over. I also knew that I did not want to take my uniform off because I knew that I’d never get to wear it again. Probably a good thing I did, it probably smelled awful! Coming in a close second would be fulfilling a lifelong dream of being the PA Announcer at a drum corps show at the 2019 Drums Along The Rockies. Even though the show got rained out, it was the thrill of a lifetime!

How have the Blue Knights impacted your life? 

I knew that I wanted to be a music educator long before I was in drum corps, and I knew that the experience would help me as I became a teacher. Being in the Blue Knights taught me all about discipline, hard work, adversity, teamwork, and passion for the marching arts. This is an activity that is incredibly special for all involved, something that is not easily explained. There’s just something about what you experience in drum corps that stays with you for a lifetime.

What are some of the Blue Knights’ core values/principles that have resonated with you in life?

Something I learned very early on is how much of a family the Blue Knights were with each other, and even as a rookie, I was embraced and welcomed into the Blue Knights family. It was in Blue Knights that I truly learned that regardless of how many years of experience you had with the corps, you had to perform like you were the most seasoned veteran. There is no second string, or “rookie team” in drum corps. Everybody’s on the varsity team, and you had to perform like it. It was my rookie year that the Blue Knights had seen the most adversity (three straight years of missing out on DCI finals), and it became very apparent that with DCI Finals being in Denver, the Blue Knights had to be in DCI Finals, so every member was important in reaching that goal.

What advice would you tell someone considering trying out for the Blue Knights?

Give them every reason to pick you! Come with a winning attitude, an open mind, and a willingness to give your absolute best. I tell my students all the time that I will take someone with the most amazing attitude over someone who has the best skills, but a poor attitude. Don’t get down on yourself if you don’t make it after the first audition camp. Find ways to improve, and keep open communication with the staff and other members you meet because you never know when you might get a callback! And just be yourself! Everyone has some sort of unique skill they can bring to the drum corps activity. Above all, don’t be afraid to perform!

How would you like to see other Blue Knight alumni get involved in the organization? 

Life as age-outs can be pretty daunting, and it’s incredibly difficult to get involved with an activity that is constantly in motion. I think for drum corps to continue to thrive and for the Blue Knights to continue to be a stand-out organization, it needs the support from alumni all over the globe. Even if you can only commit a day or a few dollars, every little bit helps. This activity has given so much to so many of us, we would not be where we are without the support of alumni that marched before us. Yes, it can be hard to make any kind of commitment. But any commitment is better than no commitment!

Did you perform in the 2018 Alumni Corps and what was your favorite memory from our 60th Anniversary of the corps and the 25th Anniversary of BKPE?

I did get to perform with the 2018 Alumni Corps! It’s quite an interesting story. Before I had committed to the Alumni Corps, I had scheduled a Band Camp for my students in the days leading up to Drums Along the Rockies hoping that we could conclude our camp with a trip to (what was then called) Sports Authority Field. What I didn’t realize is that by scheduling that camp, I would, unfortunately, miss out on a majority of rehearsals. I still wanted to be a part of the ceremony, so I did what any good musician would do and practiced non-stop to have the music memorized, and had the support of wonderful section mates that helped me get all caught up just in time for the performance! It was so wonderful seeing so many of my old friends and meeting many new ones. I can’t wait for the next one!

∴ Want to be featured in a future Alumni Spotlight? Fill out the  Alumni Update form here or email: Alumni@AscendPerformingArts.org

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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