Genesis Drum & Bugle Corps training at LHHS

Musicians for Genesis Drum and Bugle Corps are selected after a series of auditions. Genesis musicians practice at Liberty Hill High School’s Panther Stadium. (Courtesy Photo)

Musicians for Genesis Drum and Bugle Corps are selected after a series of auditions. Genesis musicians practice at Liberty Hill High School’s Panther Stadium. (Courtesy Photo)

By Dana Delgado

Genesis, a nationally recognized Drum and Bugle Corps (DBC), has been camped out in Liberty Hill preparing for a nationwide tour and competitions.

Founded in 2009, the Texas-based organization has evolved rapidly, drawing the interest of international musicians. It was named the most improved corps in 2013 from among 47 groups across the country.

By design, Genesis DBC is a diverse, co-ed, extra-curricular activity that is akin to many sports teams and promotes teamwork, physical education, sportsmanship and entertainment. What distinguishes Genesis DBC is its dedication to redefining entertainment as an art of “Field Performance Theater.”

With its premier facilities and proximity to its Central Texas base, Liberty Hill High School drew the attention of the organization and is considering the school as a permanent training site.

“A long-term relationship with Genesis would not just be with LHHS,” said John Perrin, LHHS Band Director. “It would be with the town of Liberty Hill. The Genesis organization will help our current band students through staff collaboration, performance opportunities, and providing something outside of high school band for those that wish to take that challenge. It is a pretty exciting proposition if you ask me. I would love for Genesis to be from Liberty Hill.”

Since June 8, the corps members have been practicing day and night on the athletic fields and back parking lot of LHHS. In the evening, the 150 musicians, ages 15-21, and their instructors have been housed in the high school. This is first time the national drum and bugle corps has been practicing its show performance in Liberty Hill.

After performing at the State Capitol in Austin on June 14, Genesis DBC left June 15 on a Midwestern performance and training tour and will return to LHHS in mid-July to continue rehearsing and preparing for other tours and competitions.

The organization is under the leadership of Christopher (Chris) Magonigal who is the Founder and voluntary Executive Director of Genesis DBC, a non-profit 501(c)3 organization. Magonigal is native of Killeen and is a 1992 graduate of Ellison High School.

After completing two years at Blinn College in Brenham, Magonigal transferred to Texas Tech University where he studied music as a passion and marketing as a major. Interestingly, he and Perrin played together in the Texas Tech Marching Band.

“Yes, we did march in the Texas Tech Goin’ Band from Raider Land,” said Perrin. “Marching at Tech was an amazing experience and has had a lasting effect on my life. The fact that Chris and I have reconnected is due to our marching experiences in college. We developed a strong friendship during our college years and we have stayed in contact over the years.

“When Chris said he was moving the corps to the Austin area, I told him to come check out our facilities. When he did, he was blown away and right away wanted to have a meeting with the administration,” Perrin said.

The LHHS band director said they were are able to come up with a plan that would allow school activities and the corps rehearsals to occur at the same time.

“It’s (drum and bugle corps) been my dream since I was kid,” said  Magonigal, an accomplished trombone player who first discovered drum corps on a PBS show when he was in eighth grade. With several band directors influencing him and having the opportunity to participate in two drum corps, the Sky Ryders and the Madison Scouts, the Killeen native knew where his heart was.

“Marching band was all about discipline,” he said. “It allowed us to explore our own feelings and thoughts and not be judged.”

Upon completing his marketing degree from Texas Tech, Magonigal went to work in the corporate world. After a handful of executive jobs and jazz gigs, he rekindled his dream and instead of moving with his company that was relocating, Magonigal accepted a severance package. He said he took the severance and sold all his belongings to start Genesis Drum and Bugle Corps.

“Music was always in my heart and I wanted to learn more about the behind the scenes and the non-profit model,” Magonigal said. “I seized the opportunity and never second guessed myself. And besides, I had a marketing degree that would help me make it work.”

In its inaugural season of competition in 2010, Genesis Drum and Bugle Corps finished 9th at the Drum Corp International Open Class World Championships, a huge milestone for such a young organization.  In the following year, the driving force behind the creative approach of Genesis would be solidified.

“The 2011 season brought us our first ‘rebirth’ of ideas by introducing new genres of music and visual ideas, unheard of in modern Drum Corps,” said Magonigal. “Our goal with each season is to fuse ‘old school’ and ‘new school’ in a way that reinvents the Drum Corps medium.”

Now after only five years since launching the non-profit, Magonigal, who was named Director of the Year in 2013 by Drum and Bugle Corps International and now sits on the Open Class Advisory Committee for DCI, says the success, growth, and potential is “mindboggling.”

“Besides, you can change lives. I was a lost child and it helped me find myself,” he said. “Music can give you so much including discipline, independence and a sense of belonging.

“This is the major league of playing music,” said Magonigal. “Its athletic training and much more.”

Musicians for Genesis Drum and Bugle Corps are selected after a series of auditions.

“We look for musicians that have determination and show improvement from one audition to another,” he said. “We provide an opportunity for young artists from all backgrounds to explore new musical avenues and expressions. Membership is a rewarding experience that can benefit each corps member for years to come and will result in friendships and resources that last a lifetime. No matter their dream, being part of a DCI drum corps can help them achieve it, while at the same time providing one of the most intense and rewarding performing arts education experiences available in the world. It’s an experience that helps build the performance, education and personal foundation of a lifetime.”

Although the group has national partnerships with Ultimate Drill Book and TAMA Marching Percussion, Genesis DBC is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization that operates 50 percent of its annual budget off of donations from loyal supporters.  Donations apply to new instruments, fuel, food and operational expenses of the program.

Additional information on the organization including making donations is available at www.genesisdbc.org.