Three local students are coming home to perform in the River City Rhapsody drum and bugle corps performance, 7 p.m. Sunday at Rochester Regional Stadium on the University Center Rochester campus.
Jon Huhn, Dominic Dingmann, and Paul Smith, all from Rochester, play with the Colts of Dubuque. Huhn and Dingmann play trumpets and Smith plays the euphonium.
They’re part of an event featuring nine performing groups, including the Blue Stars of LaCrosse, Wis.; the Bluecoats of Canton, Ohio; the Madison Scouts of Madison, Wis.; the Pioneers of Milwaukee; the Colt Cadets and Colts of Dubuque, Iowa; the Racine Scouts of Racine, Wis., the River City Rhythm of Monticello; and the Govenaires of St. Peter.
Huhn, 19, is a 2014 Lourdes graduate and attends the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, majoring in computer engineering. He is the son of Terry and Jeff Huhn.
He started playing in band in fifth grade. The music and drill of the high school marching band attracted him and he decided to audition for the Colts. This is his second year with the group.
The first four weeks of the season are probably the hardest because the group must learn all the music and drills.
“It gets tiring,” Huhn said.
But the best part of the season is walking out onto the fields and hearing the applause, he says; it helps energize the performers.
Smith, 18, is the son of Diane Smith. He plays the baritone with the Colts. He began playing trombone in seventh grade — and it still remains his principal instrument — but he played the euphonium last year in the Lourdes High School marching band to help him prepare for the Colts.
He graduated in May and plans to attend the University of Wisconsin–Madison in the fall, where he will major in computer engineering.
Smith decided to audition for the Colts because he enjoyed the marching band and the music, his mother said.
He did hurt his ankle during one of the rigorous practice sessions, but the group travels with a trainer and he is all healed up and has been fine for a few weeks, he explained.
Dingmann, 18, is the son of Ester Lebron and Robert Dingmann and graduated from Mayo High School this year. He has played trumpet since sixth grade. He plans to attend Rochester Community and Technical College in the fall. He will major in music.
Dingmann auditioned in December. This is his first year with the Colts. He attended a big Drum Corps International event in St. Paul two summers ago with a friend, and since then his biggest goal was to get into one of the corps, Robert Dingmann said.
He is enjoying “rubbing elbows” with the other performers, he’s become more proficient on his trumpet, and his marching skills have improved greatly.
“It’s almost like the military,” Robert Dingmann said. Members’ days are very regimented; they’re constantly busy and they only get breaks to eat.
All three students commented on the tight schedule and yearning for more sleep, but they like the food. The students are fed 6,000 calories per day to maintain the energy for their rigorous schedules.
Some 300 to 500 students worldwide audition each year for the Dubuque Colts, said Tour Director Ray Morgan. This year the group has students from Japan, the Netherlands and Canada. The corps members’ ages range from 16 to 21.
There are 72 brass players, 38 in the color guard, two drum majors and 36 percussionists. Forty staff members herd the group from state to state over the season. They travel about 3,000 miles, rehearsing or performing 12 to 14 hours per day for about 12 weeks.
“They’re pretty tired when it’s time to sleep,” said Morgan.
On a show day, the group rehearses six to eight hours, performs, then packs up and moves to the next location. They are transported in buses and trucks including a semi trailer that’s been converted into a cook truck to feed the students those four meals and snacks per day.
“They learn life skills, how to be independent, how to make good decisions, team work, and we hope, we help them become well-rounded adults,” Morgan said.