Blue Knights Announce Visual Leadership for 2020 Season

DENVER – The Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps has a long history of innovative design and musically driven programing. We are a drum corps unafraid to take risk in creating an environment where our members thrive as they create the unique Blue Knights’ “voice”.

From the likes of George Zingali, Jim Prime, Ralph Hardimon, Rob Billings, Marc Sylvester, Mike Jackson, Kevin Shah, Tommy Keenum, Jay Murphy and Jay Bocook, the Blue Knights have always attracted the most forward thinking and creative minds in the activity to join our members in bringing our voice to life. These are individuals who take artistic risks. Our culture encourages this, and in 2020 the Blue Knights will continue to build upon this enduring principle.

Today we highlight our Visual Design and Visual Caption leadership.

James Gow will be returning to the Blue Knights as the Visual Designer for the 2020 season. James is a Southern California native who began his marching career at Vista Murrieta HS before joining Pacific Crest Drum and Bugle Corps (2005-2006) and later going on to march with the Blue Devils Drum & Bugle Corps (2007-2010). As a drill designer, he has worked with Southwind Drum and Bugle Corps (2017-2018) and is the current visual designer for the Blue Knights (2018-present). He has served as drill designer for multiple high school programs around the country, including Green Hope, Warren, Etiwanda, Foothill, Temecula Valley, and Great Oak HS. James also designs visual programs for scholastic and independent winter drum lines and is currently a choreographer and visual instructor at Broken City Percussion as well as visual designer at Vessel Percussion. As an instructor, he has taught highly competitive groups in the Southern California area including Vista Murrieta, Mission Viejo, Etiwanda, and Fountain Valley High Schools, and serves as the current visual caption head and choreographer for BOA semi-finalist Vista Murrieta HS. He has been a member of the visual staff for the Sacramento Mandarins (2011), The Cadets (2012), and the Blue Devils Drum and Bugle Corps (2013-2018).

Jay Murphy will return as the Visual Design Consultant for the 2020 Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps. Legendary in the pageantry activity, has spent decades creating and staging successful indoor and outdoor programs. Jay has collaborated and designed with the Blue Devils for over 35 years. A member of the WGI Sport of the Arts Hall of Fame, he has been recognized for his outstanding contributions to the pageantry activity. In recognition of his outstanding contribution to the winter guard activity, He was awarded Winter Guard International’s prestigious Laurel Award in 1995. His programs credits include: San Jose Raiders, Blue Devils Winter Guards, Blessed Sacrament Color Guards, Imbue, St. Joseph’s Winter Guard, St. Anthony’s Imperials Winterguard, Clovis West, Mission Viejo and numerous marching bands throughout the United States and Canada.

Zak Stillwell will be returning to the Blue Knights as the Visual Caption Head for the 2020 season. He is a full-time visual designer, choreographer, instructor, and clinician based out of Fremont, California. He began his pageantry career at the age of fourteen as a performer in the Academy Drum and Bugle Corps, before spending his final four years marching with the Blue Devils. After aging out, he began teaching within the Blue Devil organization. While there, he spent time instructing the ‘A’, ‘B’, and ‘C’ corps. Most notably, Zak’s work with the Blue Devils ‘B’ Corps helped elevate the corps from perennial Open Class contender to two Top 15 World Class finishes in 2014 and 2016. In all, he has helped earn seven DCI World Championships as an instructor and performer. In addition to his drum corps experience, he studied music education and euphonium performance at the University of Arizona, under the instruction of Dr. Kelly Thomas. Zak has served as visual caption head for many award-winning high school ensembles.  Some of the groups he has had the pleasure of working with include James Logan High School, Homestead High School, Amador Valley High School, Saratoga High School, and Leigh High School. As a drill designer, he has written for programs all over the United States. He currently designs for programs in California, Illinois, Minnesota, Ohio, Oregon, and Texas.

Return each day to AscendPerformingArts.org this week for more announcements on the Blue Knights team.


∴ Come home to the Blue Knights in 2020! Click the button below to register for a BKXperience-Audition! Clinic:

Share This Post

BK hall of fame feature

Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps Hall of Fame – Accepting Nominations

Nominations for the first Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps Hall of Fame are now being accepted by the Hall of Fame Committee for the ...
Read More →
Ascend-logo_elevating_below860x280.png

Bliss Coleman Appointed as Director of Development

Ascend Performing Arts, a leading organization in the performing arts community, is thrilled to announce the appointment of Bliss Coleman as its new Director of ...
Read More →
BKX24 staff David wp

BLUE KNIGHTS WELCOMES DAVID WALKER

Ascend Performing Arts is excited to announce that David Walker has joined the Blue Knights family as our new Ensemble Coordinator! David is a freelance ...
Read More →
Staff Announcement Visual Consultant

Rosie Miller Queen Joins Blue Knights

Ascend Performing Arts is excited to announce Rosie Miller Queen as Visual Consultant for the Blue Knights DBC! Rosie Miller Queen has been a seasoned ...
Read More →
Colorado Gives Day

Support Blue Knights through Colorado Gives Day

Support the Blue Knights through this annual statewide movement that celebrates philanthropy through online giving by making donations possible no matter where you live!
Read More →
Staff Announcement Color Guard Leadership

BLUE KNIGHTS COLOR GUARD 2024 LEADERSHIP TEAM

Ascend Performing Arts and the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps announce the artistic Color Guard Leadership team for 2024. James Gabonay, Color Guard Coordinator ...
Read More →
Scroll to Top

Want to Stay up to Date?

Sign up for our newsletter, the Knightly Newsbrief, to stay up to date with Ascend and all things Blue Knights. 

Email Address(Required)
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

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