Blue Knights-Bahrain: Strength Through Diversity

DENVER, CO – The Blue Knights will be traveling 7,620 miles to the island nation of Bahrain in the Persian Gulf to participate in the annual Formula One Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix races on April 16, 2017.

After the entertainment director of the Grand Prix’s entertainment division stumbled upon a video of the Blue Knights performing their encore show “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” by Frankie Valli, he decided he wanted to bring the Blue Knights to Bahrain this April.

This will be the first  time an American drum and bugle corps has ever performed in Bahrain or The Middle East.

“We’re lucky as an organization to have the ensembles we’ve got,” said Mark Arnold, Executive Director of Ascend Performing Arts in an interview with Drum Corps International. “We’ll be utilizing members from our Denver Broncos Stampede drum line who play at NFL football games. Most of the drummers going on the trip are alums because the Blue Knights winter drum line will be performing at the WGI Percussion World Championships the following weekend. There will also be a lot of alumni in the color guard since the WGI Color Guard World Championship weekend is just a few days before we leave.”

Performing a unique 20 minute show on the Formula One race track, the Blue Knights will feature music from their drum corps history such as Trittico, tunes from the Broncos Stampede repertoire such as Happy and pop culture greats such as Michael Jackson’s Thriller.  The Blue Knights will wear red and white uniforms in honor of Bahrain’s national colors for the opening ceremonies of the 2017 Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix.

The Blue Knights-Bahrain ensemble includes 48 brass musicians, 24 percussionists and 28 color guard members ranging from 18 to 50 years old, with over 30 years age difference between performers.

Blue Knights-Bahrain performers are predominantly local to Colorado, but with several members from other states as well. 

Timothy Fannin, a tuba player, travels to the weekly rehearsals from American Fork, Utah. He will cover over 5,210 miles by car, bus and plane to get to and from Denver before heading out to Bahrain.

Most of the ensembles’ members are current members and alumni of the Blue Knights Drum and Bugles Corps, the Blue Knights Percussion Ensemble and Ascend Performing Art’s Denver Broncos Stampede.

In addition to their members in Ascend Ensembles, members of the Blue Knights-Bahrain group also perform, or have performed in numerous other ensembles including 17 different drum corps, 14 independent winterguards, 4 independent percussion ensembles and a wide number of independent groups such as: The Denver Nuggets Skyline Drumline, a specialized drumline that performs at NBA basketball games, local cover band “HomeSlice Band” which performs at various events across Colorado and is managed by Fred Garlington, and the “Tent Show Kings”, a wedding and event band run by Broncos Brass member Kevin Roe. Also, the group includes performers from dance organizations such as “Soul Work Dancers” and “DiLuzional Entertainment” and more.

Members of the Blue Knights-Bahrain group have performed in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Elitch Gardens amusement park, on the “Wheel of Fortune” TV show, charity events, with blues musician Michael Hornbuckle and country artist Buckstein and hold jobs ranging from a Colorado  Bandmasters Association judge and a Rocky Mountain Color Guard Association judge.

Joining the trip to Bahrain will also include 1 DCI Hall Of Fame Member (Ascend Performing Arts Executive Director, Mark Arnold), 1 Rocky Mountain Percussion Association and Winter Guard International Hall of Fame Member (Broncos Stampede Drumline Manager, Dave Marvin) and 6 current band directors (Becky Paschke, Greg Haan, Ronnie Pruitt, Darryl Abrahamson, Jared Crump-Bertram and Corey Stopperan).

In addition, 43 of the 100 members are also current instructors of various area programs, and there are over 16 high schools and 5 college marching bands represented among the performers. 

This kind of trip isn’t new to some of the Blue Knights, with a number of them having traveled to Taiwan in 2014.

“Opportunities such as this trip elevate our brand here at home as well as on the world stage,” said Mark Arnold. “Yet most importantly, this trip will provide our participants with incredible life experiences far beyond that of our individual programs.”

A send off show has been set for Tuesday, April 11th at 8:00 pm at Englewood High School. For inquiries on this group, please contact:

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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


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


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


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


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


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


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