Concord holds the unchallenged record of competing in 35 successive Drum Corps finals day competitions – no other UK corps can match this.
The story of CONCORD probably begins in the late 1950’s when the current director graduated from an undistinguished career in a Scout troop (which didn’t have a band) to membership of an Air Training Corps squadron (which did). Joining the band of 367 (South Sheffield) Squadron began a career which saw progress through the ranks as bugler, drummer and drum major to leading the band and developing it via Eb trumpets, Bb bugles, military band (for a short time with bugles and bagpipes) to the ATC’s first-ever “G” drum and bugle corps, known as “Shades of Blue” – with an establishment-shaking colour guard.
Around the same time another group of people were taking a church youth band through its development as 79th (St Timothy’s) Scout Band (very successful in Scouting circles). Later becoming Sheffield Corps of Drums and eventually The Vulcan Corps – also on G’s, they were contemporaries and, at times, rivals of Shades of Blue in the early days of DCUK and BYBA. As with many other units, ambitions ran high but both units were limited by numbers on the progress they were able to make and talks began which led to the amalgamation of the two units in October 1984.
Selection of the name occupied many hours of discussion – eventually settling on a dictionary definition of “having common aims”, “harmonious sounds” and “a combination of sounds agreeable to the ear” – CONCORD.
Our first joint outing at DCUK Finals in 1984 (under the Shades of Blue name) saw us field 10 snares, 5 basses, 4 tenors, 4 cymbals, 40-odd brass and 20 colour guard. We were large – but terrible and rightly placed 17th. A year of extremely hard work took us to DCUK Finals in Leicester velodrome (when the arena surface was red) and a record score to win the Class “A” championship.
Always famed for being one of the loudest and, at times, fastest corps, CONCORD went onwards and upwards to produce year after year of top-quality shows – soon becoming established as a regular in the annual top placings. Never quite winning the top prize in DCUK competition (came within 0.1 points of Blue Eagles in 1991), CONCORD has a large collection of runners-up and third place medals and was always one of the corps acknowledged for presenting top quality performances in all departments. We also hold the unchallenged record of appearing in 25 successive DCUK Finals competitions – no other UK corps can match this.
The millennium year saw us fall to an unsustainably low level of numbers and the difficult decision was taken to field a Cadet corps only the following season. With traditional determination, this group soon won DCUK Cadet Class (2001), Junior Class (2003) and Class A” (2006) championships to return the group to the new National Open Class by 2007.
The year 2008 saw a most significant development when the corps decided to step out of the constraints of the competitive arena to allow members and staff to more widely develop their musical skills and repertoire. Although still very early days, this new direction is proving extremely successful and producing a series of innovative and exciting shows.
We have always been fortunate in having access to some of the finest arrangers and designers in producing our shows. Initially using internationally-renowned brass arranger Dan Lutz of Boston, Ma and percussion writer Peter Furnari also of Boston, we later added Chris Jacobson of Madison Scouts as visual consultant. For the majority of our history, however, we are proud to have developed our own in-house arrangers and designers. David Blake and Mick Jenkins, Chris Eaton for brass, Craig Worrall, Nigel Rawse and Paul Bradley on percussion, Mark Steele and the late Jonathan Smith as visual creators – just some of the fine teams that have produced the typical CONCORD sounds and sights.
In 1987 there was some discontentment about the manner in which DCUK was being run and CONCORD, with other leading groups, left to form The British Drum Corps Federation. In the two years of BDCF activity CONCORD took the national championships in both summer and winterguard seasons. The management of the corps were involved in negotiations which led to the reformation of a totally-reformed DCUK in 1989.
During the late1980’s and early 90’s, CONCORD made several trips to compete in Holland (pre-DCE) and became the first-ever British drum corps to win a European championship (Vlaadingen In 1986). There were also trips to Scotland (wet through at Glasgow Garden Festival), Wales (wet though in Cwmbran) and to Eire where we were made most welcome and where some most enjoyable journeys and celebrations took place. We remember, particularly, what was probably the wettest St Patrick’s Day in history when a morning soaking in Dublin was followed by another in the afternoon in Tallaght (we spent our prize money in a pub in Dun Laoghaire). A damp history but great fun – always one of our main aims !
Members of CONCORD were amongst the first Brits to march with DCI corps, sending representatives to Blue Devils, Phantom Regiment, Boston Crusaders, Santa Clara Vanguard, Carolina Crown and Dutch Boy. In 1992 The Corps Director was fortunate in being awarded a Winston Churchill Memorial Travelling Fellowship during which he was able to travel with several top-level corps throughout the DCI Summer tour to produce a comparative study of drum corps activities in the UK and USA.
CONCORD has always been very active on the winterguard circuits, producing a series of innovative and entertaining shows (remember Titanic, Five Guys Named Mo and Bjork ?) A proud record claimed by CONCORD is that they put out the first and only all-male winterguard unit when “Space Cadets” took the floor in 1982.
As a group, we have always been very pro-active in helping to develop and promote the British drum corps and marching band activity. The current director of Concord served five years as DCUK Deputy Chairman and Glyn Boyington a similar period as treasurer. Members of CONCORD staff have participated in many seminars and development sessions including those of the British Federation of Youth Marching Band Organisations.
All of us in CONCORD re extremely proud of the achievements and tradition of excellence that have been established over our 25-year history. Although currently pursuing a quite different direction, we are convinced that CONCORD will be a name that lives on for many more years as a symbol of excellence and entertainment in the youth music field.