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Baldwin the site of band competition

| Wednesday, July 23, 2014, 9:01 p.m.

Some of the nation's top performing drum corps will take to the field at Baldwin High School on Aug. 3 to raise money for the school's music patrons.

Eight groups will participate in the Three Rivers Summer Music Games, as nonprofit Drum Corps International and the Baldwin Highlander Music Patrons host the annual show at Baldwin stadium at 7 p.m.

“These groups are really out of this world,” Baldwin Highlander Marching Band director Greg Steele said. The show has been performed at Baldwin stadium annually since at least the early 2000s.

Drum Corps International is the governing body for junior drum and bugle corps in the United States and Canada. Musicians, usually between the ages 18 and 24, spend several months traveling across the country performing in shows with the audition-only corps. Events are judged, and the top 12 groups in the country leads a DCI World Championship later in August.

The shows are “very elite, very professional,” said Jerry Pantone, event coordinator with the Highlander Music Patrons. “It's entertaining.”

This year's show also will feature the Marine Drum & Bugle Corps and a drumline battle.

Each featured group usually has about 150 members and is accompanied by as many as 11 vehicles, including tractor trailers and semis. They have one main request when they travel: hot water to shower, as they sleep on the gymnasium floors at local schools each night, Pantone said.

“That's all these kids do. They perform, they eat, they travel and they perform,” Pantone said.

The corps will be spending one or two nights on the floors at Baldwin High School, Harrison Middle School, Paynter and Whitehall elementaries and nearby at Chartiers Valley, McGuffey, Charleroi and Serra Catholic high schools.

Drum Corps International has partnered with the Baldwin Highlander Music Patrons for at least 15 years, Pantone said. In its heyday, the event brought in crowds of more than 4,100 people and raised more than $30,000 for the band patrons, Pantone said.

With parking complications, the event now draws between 1,300 and 1,400 people each year, Pantone said.

The 110 members of the Baldwin Highlander Marching Band attend the performance every year, Steele said.

“It's a great opportunity to see what we're striving for,” he said.

Especially for the new members, the show, which takes place the night before band camp begins, serves as a lesson in how they should perform.

“This is like being at the Super Bowl of performances,” Pantone said. “Hopefully it is inspiring them.”

Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or shacke@tribweb.com.

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