PASO ROBLES — The world-renowned Santa Clara Vanguard Drum and Bugle Corps, under the direction of Paso Robles High School graduate Shaun Gallant, has people lining the fence around Flamson Middle School.
SCV spent three days and nights living and practicing at the middle school before it heads south for its next round of performances and competition. After practicing in groups across the campus during the day, the Vanguard comes together at night and practices at War Memorial Stadium behind Flamson.
“This last weekend we were in the Bay Area for our performances,” Gallant said. “We have performances in L.A. It’s a good centralized location for us to stop and rehearse for three days.”
And, of course, Gallant was excited to come home and give back. Gallant grew up in Paso Robles, graduated from PRHS in 2004 and earned a master’s from New York University. Practices and a finale show Thursday night were free and open to the public.
“I started my music career here,” Gallant said, while taking a break from practice Tuesday afternoon. “Being able to come and bring the Vanguard here and give the local community exposure — it’s great exposure to a world-class organization.”
Gallant said Paso Robles Joint Unified School District Visual and Performing Arts coordinator Brent Moser brought students out to learn from the Vanguard crew. The SCV Drum and Bugle Corps was formed in 1967 in Santa Clara.
The SCV organization has two competitive drum and bugle corps, the Vanguard and the Vanguard Cadets, the Vanguard Winter Guard, Winter Percussion and Community Arts Program.
According to the SCV website, it has the distinction of being the only organization to be a finalist in Drum Corps International (DCI) World Championships since the inception of DCI in 1972.
“There are 154 members on the field, 28 states represented and four countries,” Gallant said. “Then its brass, percussion and colorguard/dancers. We see over 800 people audition for us over five different audition weekends starting in November. The age range for us is 17-21.”
In addition to the performers there are 40 support staff consisting of volunteers and administration, Gallant said.
The kids move in with SCV on May 19 and are on the road through Aug. 12. They will travel 15,000 miles on their 26-performance tour.
Last year, SCV finished second in the world. There are currently 24 DCI corps in their “World Class” division across North America, and even more corps in their second division, called “Open Class.”
“We just finished spring training,” Gallant said. “We opened up our competitive season this last weekend and now we are on tour. These three days we are actually finishing the show, kind of polishing things, getting ready for our big shows in L.A.”
Gallant was fortunate enough to make the Vanguard cut and participated for five years. He taught for three years, then took a break for a couple of years and is in the midst of his second season as Vanguard director.
“This is awesome,” Gallant said of his time with SCV. “In addition to what we do on the field. We also teach life lessons, time management and interpersonal skills and all of those things. These kids are going to go on and be extremely successful in whatever they choose to do in life.”