Blue Knights Winds to Compete in 2019

DENVER, CO – Ascend Performing Arts, a nonprofit performing arts organization based in Denver, Colorado, is pleased to announce a new competitive ensemble that will activate for the upcoming 2018-2019 season: Blue Knights Winds.

The Blue Knights Winds will compete in the Rocky Mountain Percussion Association (RMPA) circuit and the Winter Guard International (WGI) Winds division for the upcoming season. The group will be comprised of brass, woodwind, percussion, and visual ensemble performers and will serve as a high-caliber performance group that may also be available for educational clinics and specialized performances in the Rocky Mountain Region.

“The Winds group will provide another opportunity for performers to be a part of the Blue Knights experience but will also be involved in our local community in educational capacities,” said Mark Arnold, Executive Director of Ascend Performing Arts. “We are very excited to have a 3rd Blue Knights ensemble available for students in Colorado!”

The Blue Knights Winds will be under the direction of Abraham Eng, a Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps alum baritone and euphonium player from the 1999-2003 seasons. Abe went on to join the instructional staff of the drum corps from 2004 to 2008 including three years as the Visual Caption head. Afterwards, he has continued to stay involved with the drum corps as an alumni and supporter. 

“I have long been a supporter of expanding the performance opportunities for young wind players here in the Denver area,” said Abe Eng, Ensemble Director. “It is long overdue for winds performers to be able to experience the unique, creative, and challenging performance environment that their friends in color guard and percussion have enjoyed for years. I look forward to providing those students with a high quality, engaging experience they can’t find anywhere else here in the metro area.”

This ensemble will continue the tradition of excellence set by the Blue Knights Percussion Ensemble that helped pioneer indoor percussion in WGI in the early 1990’s and the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps that has become a consistent Top-12 Finalist in Drum Corps International (DCI). It will also continue the legacy of indoor winds set forth by the Blue Knights Winter Brass Ensemble in 2005-2007 that was founded and directed by Abe Eng.

The Blue Knights Winds are proud to partner with Jupiter Band Instruments and Majestic Percussion. Working under a philosophy to support music education and community since 1930, Jupiter’s parent company, KHS Musical Instruments Co., Ltd., has become one of the largest musical instrument producers in the world today. Vic Firth, Remo and Zildjian will also play a role with the Blue Knights Winds with the percussion section.

The ensemble will also continue its partnership with Winter Guard Tarps that provides quality digital printing for digital flags, backdrops, floor tarps, and uniforms as the official digital print partner for the Blue Knights. In addition, the Blue Knights Winds may also utilize The Band Hall and Creative Costuming & Design for their uniform needs. Directors Showcase International (DSI) will be a key partner with their support of shoes, color guard equipment, gloves and band supplies for the Blue Knights. Pageantry Innovations is a proud sponsor of the Blue Knights with their support of props, pit carts and more. The horn line will utilize Pickett Brass mouthpieces for the the inaugural season.

Although the Blue Knights Winds isn’t the first ensemble of its kind under the Ascend Performing Arts umbrella, it will continue to promote & support Ascend’s mission of elevating life performance in the region by “furthering the education and growth of young people through the participation of high-caliber performing arts programs that promote teamwork and discipline, develop leadership skills and enhance self-esteem.”

The new group will focus on skills and performance development for performers of any level. Performers will learn an 8-minute show that will be produced in the Fall by experienced Blue Knights staff. Due to the rehearsal and performance schedule, it is expected that most members will come from the Rocky Mountain region.

Abe Eng – Program Director
Ethan Goddard – Ensemble Manager

Andy Smart – Program Coordinator
Robbie Billings – Visual Designer
Joe Hills – Design Consultant
Neil Adkison – Visual Consultant

Thomas Kober – Music Caption Head
Dan Gustad – Music Instructor
Joe Hills – Music Instructor
Luke Story – Music Instructor
Brian Ebert – Woodwind Consultant
Jeffrey DesMarteau – Visual Caption Head
Becky Paschke – Visual Instructor

Auditions for the inaugural season of the Blue Knights Winds group will be held this Fall with details posted soon. Those who are interested in being a performer, staff member, or volunteer, please complete the interest form below.

∴ Follow the Blue Knights Winds on Facebook HERE.

∴ To learn more about the WGI Winds activity, click HERE.

∴ Register for Blue Knights Winds BKXperience-Audition! Clinics HERE.

∴ Video Audition HERE.

∴ Submit an interest form for the latest updates HERE.

Click to learn more!

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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