Vanier, ONT Canada
|1992||Pictures at an Exhibition|
|1993||Symphony of Psalms|
|1994||310||81.600||Gigues (from Images for Orchestra) * Nimrod (from Enigma Variations) * Infernal Dance (from Firebird Suite) * Finale (from Firebird Suite)|
|1995||309||82.800||Music by Prokofiev - Ivan the Terrible|
History of the Contemporary Youth Ensemble
In the spring of 1989, Paul Legault and Michel Villeneuve met to discuss the possibility of forming a competitive drum and bugle corps in the Nation’s Capital. They had both marched together in a parade corps, ‘Les Baladins’ in the early seventies and from 1973 to 1978 with ‘Les Compagnons’ from Embrun and later Ottawa.
In the eighties, Paul marched in the “all-aged” circuit with Odyssee from Montreal and the Rochester Crusaders while Michel marched with “Les Troubadours” from Victoriaville and “ La Clique Alouette” from Ste. Foy, before co-founding “L’Académie Musicale” of Sherbrooke.
The very first meeting was held in early June of 1989, and they were both nominated as executive directors of the board. The first order of business was to build a partnership with the Ottawa Boys and Girls Club in order to secure a rehearsal facility. The other important issue decided at that inaugural meeting was the corps’ identity.
The vision for the corps was to offer the membership a musical experience in the realm of 20th century classical music. The challenge then became the choice of a name to best identify classics of that musical period performed by kids and or young adults.
The very first choice for the corps’ name was “Avant Garde”, which would best identify their goals. However, since this name was made very popular in the drum corps world by a group from Saratoga County, New York, a new name, through many discussions, was formulated as follows:
20th century (Contemporary); Adolescents (Youth); Classical group (Ensemble)
In the summer of 1989, the board had the good fortune of meeting Lt. Colonel Barry Hamilton, a former member of the 1960’s Preston Scout House. Now stationed in Ottawa, he would be an instrumental part of the unit’s growth.
Due to limited funds, it was decided that the organisation would begin slowly as a guard and purchased equipment from a recently disbanded winter guard called Renaissance of Gatineau, Québec.
And so, with equipment on hand and a rehearsal site secured on January 5th, 1990, CYE was born. Their very first rehearsal consisted of 3 individuals.
In March, the corps officially incorporated as an Ontario ‘not-for-profit’ organisation and its first public appearance was held in June in Buckingham, Québec in a parade celebrating that town’s centennial anniversary.
That same month, CYE organised a fundraising event for drum corps veterans around the region and from the money raised along with a variety of other local charity donations and business associates, they purchased brass from the defunct ‘Etoiles d’Or’ of Laval, Québec.
From September to December, recruiting was laborious. At that point, they realized that in order to maximize their efforts it would be best to offer their program as an extra curricular activity. The administration approached the principal at Hopewell School in Ottawa, and they formed a ten piece brass ensemble comprised of students from 11 to 13 years of age, led by Barry Hamilton.
Up until this point, the administration was not gaining any ground in terms of financial support until February of 1991, when CYE’s fortunes were finally about to change….
The city of Vanier, a suburb of Ottawa, had just formed a new bingo hall and were looking for charitable organisations to each run a particular session once a week. The timing was impeccable as CYE was among the first organisations on the list which ultimately turned out to be the financial stability the corps needed.
In April of 1991, CYE’s board of directors, composed primarily of very experienced drum corps instructors, was approached by the Royal Brigade Lampliters to help prepare their competitive corps for the upcoming summer. The membership numbered 45 but they had limited instructional staff.
That summer, the executive directors got to meet and work with another pivotal member of CYE’s eventual growth, Glenn Duncan, corps director of the Lampliters. In the fall of 1991, they had experienced some turmoil and ultimately disbanded the competitive corps. This eventually led to Glenn’s hiring as CYE’s first and only corps director.
Also, during that summer, through the Colonel’s connections with the Crossmen Drum & Bugle corps (his daughter Maureen was a marching member), CYE purchased a fully equipped pit, as well as some two piston bugles.
By September, the corps had all the basics in place; stable revenues, equipment; a rehearsal facility and a hired staff comprised of the following individuals:
Musical Director: Michel Villeneuve
Brass: Gilles Croteau
Percussion: Michel Villeneuve, Paul Legault, Denis Smith and Pierre Huneault
Visual: Pierre St. Jean
Guard: Jean-Marc Séguin and Brigitte Philippe
Corps Director: Glenn Duncan
In October of 1991, the board invested into a 60 second commercial, which aired for approximately 1 month, promoting CYE and the drum corps activity.
The results of the campaign were less than stellar but the combination of the signed recruits from the commercial, students from the Hopewell school program and the infusion of a few members from the Royal Brigade Lampliters helped to set the stage for the corps’ initial camp in early December. With a cast of 15 members, CYE embarked on its’ maiden voyage with vigour and determination.
CYE’s musical repertoire for their inaugural season was “Pictures at an Exhibition” by Mussorgsky and orchestrated by Maurice Ravel. From an administrative standpoint, the board had decided to join three different associations, namely the Ontario Drum Corps Association (ODCA), Drum Corps New York (DCNY) and Drum Corps East (DCE).
In both ODCA and DCNY, CYE joined the “Class B” Division and performed a 7 minute show. They were classified a “Division III” corps at the DCE level.
Over the course of the winter months, new uniforms were purchased based on a color scheme of white and blue. As funds were limited, the corps did not wear “head gear”.
On July 3rd, 1992, CYE “hit the road” towards a new beginning. Their first engagement was to perform at Schroon Lake as part of the 4th of July Celebrations. The following morning, July 5th, traveling through a major hailstorm, the corps finally arrived at its destination, Oswego, New York, to compete at the DCE sponsored show.
After 3 years of painstaking effort, the dream finally came through as they heard the sounds of “Contemporary Youth Ensemble, you may enter the field for competition”. As the summer progressed, the corps had a rather hectic schedule for a first-year unit, being members of three different associations.
But this would prove vital in strengthening both the membership and organisation as a whole, learning the basic values of hard work and dedication in achieving goals. Those goals were ultimately met in August when CYE was crowned both the DCNY and Canadian National “Class B” Champions for 1992.
This culminated a “Cinderella” year for the corps and at their inaugural banquet in October, electricity was in the air for the upcoming season, as a nucleus was forming within the membership.
After a successful 1992 campaign, the staff had chosen the contemporary music of Igor Stravinsky’s “Symphony of Psalms”. This choice of repertoire helped define the corps’ musical identity.
Administratively, the executive board founded a “School of Music” for youth, and it served the local community as an outlet to initiate young children to music.
For the upcoming competitive year, the corps joined the FAMQ, the Quebec drum corps Federation, under the French name “L’Ensemble Contemporain des Jeunes - ECJ” and renewed its membership with Drum Corps East - Division III.
Over the winter months, they had found a new rehearsal facility, the Hull Regiment Armories, which incidentally, was where the very first competitive drum corps in the Nation’s capital region was formed by Hall of Famer, Maurice Legault, known as “Les Troubadours de Hull” in 1960.
Among other firsts, CYE purchased a used school bus, obtained a used 5-ton equipment truck donated by the Canada Post Corporation, thanks to a volunteer parent, added the forage hat to the uniform and sponsored their very first DCE show.
Competitively, CYE, with a membership of 28 and fielding a drum line, continued its’ progression by ranking first among the “Division III” competitors at the DCE Championships in Boston and competed at their first DCI East Regionals in Allentown.
At the FAMQ Championships in Montreal, “ECJ” finished 4th in “Division III” competition, closing off a summer that proved to be a great learning curve for both staff and membership, as the corps continued maturing both administratively while creating its own unique identity.
In preparation for the competitive season, the corps was well ahead of schedule during the winter months, as they planned to enter their first National tour that would culminate in their first appearance at the DCI National Championships.
New to CYE’s growing portfolio was the addition of a winter colour guard program. The group joined the 1994 “Class AA” division of the Mid-York colour guard circuit and competed in upstate New York.
As an added bonus, in the fall of 1993, the CYE board was approached by DCI headquarters to lead the organisation committee for the return of DCI Canada in Ottawa. Regrettably, due to a lack of ticket sales and sponsorship, the Regional never took flight.
However, out of the ashes of this initiative brought the creation of the “Capital Open”, which would become an integral part of the DCI “Division II/III” championship tour, in partnership with the Ontario Drum Corps Association.
CYE, having firmly established their “contemporary classical” idiom, presented its most difficult show to date, with a repertoire that included excerpts from Debussy, Elgar and Stravinsky.
As part of their artistic creativity, the pit was incorporated on the field and painted murals were strategically placed to frame the visual program, enhancing the 30-member corps’ performance.
In late June, CYE sponsored their 2nd annual DCE show and competed at the DCE Championship preliminaries, held in Shelton, Connecticut, in early July. This was followed in August with Regional competitions at the “North American Open” prelims in DeKalb, the “Canadian Open” in Kitchener, where the corps was a finalist and, the “Capital Open”.
In their first appearance at the DCI Nationals in Lowell, the corps finished in 10th position at the “Division III” championships in a field of 36 corps with a 5th place finish in GE visual, 6th in total GE, and 6th in Guard.
In just 3 short years, CYE had climbed to the “Top 10” within their division.
In the fall of 1994, the corps had made its first staff change since their inception by hiring a new brass arranger, Michel Renaud, a Compagnons alumnus and brass instructor, Michel Theriault from Académie Musicale.
A strong return of membership during the winter months allowed CYE to once again field a solid corps for the ’95 season. They also moved back to a thematic program with selections from Sergei Prokofiev’s “Ivan the Terrible”.
The winter guard program was once again in full swing for the 1995 season, ending with an appearance at the “Class AA” Mid-York championships held in Syracuse.
Over the course of the summer and in keeping with the same visual structure as the previous year, namely with the pit on the field and murals, the corps, now 35 members, maintained its reputation of “Class with quality” as often described by the fans at large.
In the early part of the season, CYE competed at several DCE shows leading up to their very first finals appearance at the DCE championships in Allentown.
The corps replicated the same tour as ’94, participating in the “Division III” finals at the “North American Open” as well as the “Canadian Open” prelims. Inclement weather led to the postponement of the 2nd annual Capital Open that year.
At the DCI championships held in Buffalo, CYE closed out the season with an 9th place finish in the “Division III” prelims. Once again, the corps’ strengths were in both the GE and Visual captions; Performance Visual (3rd), Visual Ensemble (6th) and total GE (7th).
This capped off yet another successful year of competition.
In the fall of 1995, the board of directors made the decision to revert the “School of Music” program to a feeder program with the reorganization of “Les Baladins”, under the direction of Maurice Legault.
Administratively, CYE would be facing its biggest challenge to date, when the Bingo association restructured the disbursement of funds. This would negatively impact the corps’ finances in a year where the National championships were held in Florida and forced the closing of the winter guard program.
On the staffing front, a change was once again made with the hiring of Jean-Yves Cardin as brass arranger and the addition of Pierre Lainesse, as front ensemble arranger. Both were previously involved with Académie Musicale, among others. Jean-Marc Séguin took over the visual program in addition to his current role as guard designer.
As the corps’ nucleus remained intact, they embarked on their most ambitious musical program to date with excerpts from Igor Stravinsky’s “Petrushka”.
As per tradition, the corps initiated the summer season with several DCE competitions that included a “mini tour” from Massachusetts to Allentown, where the corps finished 2nd at the DCE “Division III” finals after a convincing win in the prelims.
That year, the 36-member corps had continued to build on its tradition of difficult productions that had many excellent and intriguing musical, visual and choreographic concepts.
During their travels and after several breakdowns, the corps lost their school bus to mechanical issues and had to make rental arrangements with the Nashua Spartans’ bus line in order to complete the first tour. This eventually put an unforeseen strain on the budget since the board not only incurred the extra expenses but needed to organize the rental of a bus for the upcoming 2nd tour.
After a frantic 2 weeks of securing transportation, the logistics for the 2nd tour and hosting the 3rd annual “Capital Open”, management succeeded in keeping the corps on the field as seamlessly as possible.
The 2nd tour kicked off at the “Capital Open” with a first place win in “Division III” on their way to making the finals at all 3 Regional championships. This included the “Canadian Open”, which encompassed the crowning as “Division III” Canadian National champions, the “US Coast Guard Open” in Grand Haven and the “North American Open” in Nashville.
At the DCI championships in Orlando, CYE finished in 8th place, three tenths out of a finalist position. Highlights included 6th in GE Music & Brass Performance and 7th in GE Visual & Music Ensemble.
This concluded another successful year on the field but left the corps in a precarious financial situation for the upcoming season.
The combination of unexpected expenses and a serious reduction in Bingo revenues proved challenging for the board of directors. However, with a restructured strategy in place and a strong return in membership, the corps forged through the winter months in preparation for the summer competitive season.
“Les Baladins” feeder program also continued to grow that year but sadly, the forecasted revenues didn’t meet the budgeted expectations and the administration announced in May that CYE would not field competitively.
The corps remained active, participating in the July 4th parade festivities in the Boston area which would ultimately turn out to be their last performances as a unit.
The corps did sponsor its 4th annual and final “Capital Open” in late July.
In 1998, the administration had successfully rebounded from its financial misfortunes however by then, had lost its nucleus of membership. The Baladins feeder corps progressed, primarily staffed by ex-CYE members, a program that would continue until the spring of 2001.
In 1999, the group had reintegrated its “School of Music” program, focusing on a percussion ensemble that remained active until 2001.
In 2000, the management team had voted for the formation of the “Capital Ensemble”, an “all-age” competitive corps however, due to a lack of membership, the corps never did get off the ground.
In 2001, the board of directors announced to the Bingo association its decision to cease operations as of April, officially dissolving the corps.
Over the course of 12 years, from its conception to disbandment, the Contemporary Youth Ensemble represented the last drum and bugle corps to field a competitive corps in the National Capital region.
It would be impossible to mention all those that should be recognized in the success of CYE, but their dedicated support will always be cherished.
In 2005, a formal reunion was organised to commemorate the short-lived but artistic identity left by the corps within the activity. The fondest memories of all will live in the hearts and souls of those who had the opportunity to participate in the organisation.
Highest Score 79.100
Final show in DCX Archives August 22, 1992 Canadian Nationals Championship Oshawa ONT Canada placed 1 with a score of 79.100
Highest Score 64.600
Final show in DCX Archives July 16, 1993 DCE Championships Division II/III Prelims Allentown PA placed 8 with a score of 64.600
Highest Score 81.600
Final show in DCX Archives August 15, 1994 DCI World Championships Division III Prelims Lowell MA placed 10 with a score of 81.600
Highest Score 82.800
Final show in DCX Archives August 7, 1995 DCI World Championships Division III Prelims Buffalo NY placed 9 with a score of 82.800
Highest Score 85.000
Final show in DCX Archives August 12, 1996 DCI World Championships Division III Prelims Orlando FL placed 8 with a score of 85.000