Blue Knights Announce 2023 Percussion Leadership

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DENVER, CO - The Blue knights drum & Bugle Corps is thrilled to announce our Percussion staff leadership for the 2023 season!

Andrew McAfee

Percussion caption head

Andrew McAfee is an educator and composer based out of Southern California. After earning a Bachelor of Music from California State University, Long Beach, he went on to complete his Master of Music at Indiana University. Throughout his career, Andrew has studied with a wide variety of specialists in the fields of jazz, afro cuban, orchestral and solo music. He ties these influences together along with his marching arts background to create a unique fresh approach to percussion education.

 

Andrew has spent the last decade instructing ensembles and designing highly competitive shows for various schools and independent organizations throughout southern California and Indiana. As a designer, Andrew is the owner of Pedal Point LLC, a company that composes music for educational ensembles.

 

Andrew currently works as the Percussion Caption Head for Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps, in addition to working with Broken City, Millikan High School, and La Canada High School.

Aya Strauss

Battery Co-Manager 

Aya Strauss is a percussion educator, designer, and performer from Southern California. Aya is currently the battery caption head and arranger at Mira Costa HS, battery instructor at Gahr HS and independent WGI ensemble Gold Indoor Percussion, and gives lessons to private students as well.

 

In the past, she has instructed DCI ensembles such as Pacific Crest Drum Corps and Gold Drum Corps, and independent WGI ensemble Élan Percussion. Her performance experience includes Broken City Percussion, POW Percussion, Dark Sky Percussion, Vanguard Cadets, Pacific Crest, and Gold. She also performed with Sidle Entertainment and the LA Chargers Drumline, the Thunderbolts.


Aya holds a degree in Cognitive Science, Specialization in Computing, with honors from UCLA, and performed with the UCLA Bruin Marching Band during her time at UCLA. Aya’s hobbies include CrossFit, yoga, and spending time with her two cats, Jojo and Dio.

Mike Kehoe

battery co-manager

Mike Kehoe is a percussion educator, arranger, and clinician originally from the Chicagoland area. He holds his Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Ball State University. During his undergrad, Mike had the opportunity to study under Professor Braham Dembar.

 

Mike spent his DCI career performing with the Spirit of Atlanta Drum & Bugle Corps and Phantom Regiment Drum & Bugle Corps. He also spent six years in the independent WGI circuit performing with multiple ensembles, including Pioneer Indoor (2014, 2015), Legacy World (2017, 2018) and Veritas (2019), serving as a section & ensemble leader in his last two seasons. Mike currently serves as the Battery Coordinator for Veritas (2020-present), and has worked with the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps as a snare instructor since 2020.

 

Mike resides in Indianapolis and has worked with several high school programs in the area, most recently including Pike High School, Hamilton Southeastern High School, Decatur Central High School, and Plainfield High School. Mike also works at Butler University as their drumline arranger and instructor.

 

Malia Odekirk

Malia Odekirk

Front ensemble co-manager

Malia Odekirk is an educator, researcher, and percussionist. She holds a Bachelor of Music in percussion performance from Colorado State University and Master of Arts in musicology from the University of Denver.

 

As an activist, she works to help students and colleagues advocate for themselves and aims to form more equitable and just practices within music. She has taught at the Blue Knights Percussion Ensemble, Battalion Drum and Bugle Corps, and Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps, as well as multiple high schools. She strives to help all students gain a well-rounded, meaningful, and rigorous musical experience.

Kyler Altenhof

Kyler Altenhof

Front ensemble co-manager

Kyler is a percussion educator from Goshen, Indiana. He graduated from Ball State in the spring of 2021 with a degree in Music Media Production and a certificate in Entrepreneurial Music. During his undergrad, Kyler had the opportunity to study under Professor Braham Dembar.

 

Kyler started his marching career in 2015 with the Colts Drum and Bugle Corps. He marched with the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps for three years from 2016 through 2018, and Legacy Indoor Percussion for two years from 2017 through 2018.

 

Kyler is an experienced and dedicated consultant for marching bands and indoor percussion ensembles, and has served as a technician for several high schools throughout Indiana. This will be his fourth consecutive year as an educator with the Blue Knights. Kyler is also the Front Ensemble Coordinator at Veritas, a WGI Independent World Class percussion ensemble. He currently works with Brownsburg and Decatur Central high schools, and additionally serves as a percussion specialist at Decatur and Brownsburg Middle schools. He currently resides in Speedway, IN.

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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