• Aug. 24, 2016
    USC junior performs with national drum corps

    Robbie Halpner Upper St. Clair High School junior Robbie Halpner spent the summer performing throughout the nation with the Academy Drum and Bugle Corps, one of the 22 world class corps that make up Drum Corps International.

    Comprised of approximately 150 performers including 80 brass and 35 percussion musicians as well as 36 members of the color guard, the Academy Drum and Bugle Corps is a competitive marching program for individuals ages 15-21. Based in Tempe, Ariz., members are selected by competitive audition.

    “We are extremely proud of Robbie for being selected to participate as a member this year. Being part of a corps is a tremendous accomplishment for any performer; however at 16, Robbie is definitely one of the younger members,” Julie Halpner, Robbie’s mother said. “The average age of an Academy member is 19 and almost three-fourths of all drum corps participants are full-time college students. In addition to being the first new corps to make it to finals in the last 14 years, The Academy also has the youngest average age of any finals corps this year.”

    Robbie performed as the synthesizer player, responsible for the keyboard part as well as all electronic sound in the 2016 show.

    “His journey with The Academy began at audition weekend in December, and once he earned a contract, he traveled to Tempe monthly to participate in rehearsals before leaving on May 27 to begin daily training,” Mrs. Halpner said.

    The Academy spends five weeks rehearsing and perfecting its 12-minute show – focusing on musicality, technique, precision and visual impact – before touring for seven weeks. The Academy participated in 28 competitions across 16 states – performing in notable venues including the Rose Bowl Stadium, the Alamodome, the Georgia Dome, Lucas Oil Stadium as well as smaller high school and college stadiums nationwide. The Academy Drum and Bugle Corps performed at Baldwin High School Stadium on Aug. 3, 2016.

    “Pittsburgh is fortunate to host two competitions each year; the first is at Gateway High School in June, the second is at Baldwin High School in August,” Mrs. Halpner said. “We were incredibly excited that Robbie’s corps performed at Baldwin competition. The event was attended by the Upper St. Clair High School Marching Band, as well as several other local marching bands and drum corps fans from all over the region.”

    The culminating event is the Drum Corps International Finals, which is held in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis before a sold out crowd. This year marks the first time in The Academy Drum and Bugle Corps’ history that it advanced to the final round of competition – finishing 11th among a field of 38.

    Robbie is a member of the Upper St. Clair High School wind ensemble, jazz ensemble and marching band. He co-founded the high school percussion ensemble club and for his International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme Project he created a Fort Couch Middle School drumline, which performed at Fort Couch basketball games last winter.