Blue Knights Announce 2023 Drum Majors

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DENVER, CO - The Blue knights drum & Bugle Corps is thrilled to announce our drum majors for the 2023 season.

DRUM MAJORS

New Drum Majors Announced

Laynie Metskar

DRUM MAJOR 

Laynie Metsker is from Milford, Ohio, and is a sophomore at the University of Colorado Boulder studying Music Education and Bassoon Performance.  At CU, she holds leadership positions in the Golden Buffalo Marching Band and the collegiate chapter of National Association for Music Educators.

 

Laynie graduated from Milford High School in 2021, where she participated in marching band for four years and served as a drum major for two of them. As for drum corps, this is her second year in the activity and she’s ready to be back with the Blue Knights for year two!

 

“I am so excited to continue serving the Blue Knights in 2023” Laynie said. “This corps is charging forward full steam ahead in all aspects, and I’m ready to help make a difference on and off the field with the best people in the organization by my side.”

New Drum Majors Announced

Laura Gill

Drum Major 

Laura Gill is from Canyon, Texas and is a freshman at Abilene Christian University studying Music Education with an emphasis on horn studies. Laura is returning to the Blue Knights for her 3rd year with this being her 2nd season as a Drum Major.

 

“Blue Knights has held a special place in my life the past two years,” Laura said. “I am excited to return this year, grow, learn alongside this team, and help lead the corps to success.”

New Drum Majors Announced

Ryan Halbert

DRum major

Ryan Halbert is from San Antonio, Texas, and is a sophomore at Texas State University as a Music Education Major. He plays saxophone in the Texas State University Wind Symphony and Marching Band, and has performed as a student ambassador representing the university on multiple occasions.

Ryan is beginning his drum corps career this year as he enters his first season with the Blue Knights. He spent four high school seasons in the Brennan Bear Marching Band, with his last two as a section leader and drum major respectively, and is currently a two time member of Texas State University’s Bobcat Marching Band.

“I am so grateful to become a part of such a lively and kind community,” said Ryan. “It has already been an amazing experience to meet some of the dedicated and wonderful people in the Blue Knights, and I can’t wait to see what else is in store for the rest of the season!”

 

CONDUCTORS

New Drum Majors Announced

Alexis Brunney

conductor

Alexis Brunney is from Enterprise, Alabama. She is a sophomore at the University of Colorado Boulder working towards dual degrees in Anthropology and Environmental Studies. Currently, she plays baritone in the Golden Buffalo Marching Band and in CU’s concert ensembles. Alexis’s conducting and drum corps careers begin this year with the Blue Knights.

“I’m so excited to be part of an organization that uplifts their members,” said Alexis. “It is truly an honor to work alongside such driven individuals, and I can’t wait to see what this season brings!”

New Drum Majors Announced

Andi Ferguson

conductor

Andi Ferguson is from Parker, Colorado, and is in her senior year of high school. She started in her high school marching band in the 8th grade through Colorguard and had the opportunity to be a drum major for her senior year. After graduation, she plans on studying somewhere in the arts to help pursue a career in the film industry.

“I am so excited and honored to be a part of the Blue Knights,” said Andi. “I cannot wait to see this team grow and the memories we make together.”

 

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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