Our History (from the Empire Statsmen Web site)
The Empire Statesmen Drum and Bugle Corps was founded in 1983 by Vincent Bruni. During a time when the artistic landscape was changing for Sr. Drum & Bugle Corps, Vince Bruni (better known as “Mr. B”) made it his sole purpose to create an organization that would bring the “entertainment value” back to the activity. Thus the Empire Statesmen were born.
For many years to follow, the Empire Statesmen would take up Mr. B’s charge and entertain thousands of people with shows that include music from the Big Band and Swing eras, Broadway musicals such as West Side Story, Miss Saigon, and City of Angels, and tributes to great American composers and performers like the Rat Pack and Frank Sinatra (even performed by Mr. B. himself).
During the 80’s, variety shows were at their peak. Music from the great American Big Band and Swing eras filled the Statesmen’s repertoire. While always improving from their 11th place finish in 1983, the Empire Statesmen brought showmanship to the field in ways never seen before.
In doing this, with the help of props, back drops, smoke effects and just about anything that would make it a more spectacular show for the people, they have not only returned the fun to the activity, but have also created an environment of where the paying audience's wishes are heard and respected.
The showmanship of the Statesmen had caught on. Not only were the audiences finding great value in their shows, but the judging community as well. Leaving the 80’s with their best finish in 4th place, the Statesmen started the 90’s in second place and won their first DCA World Championship in 1991 in a patriotic tribute to the Music of Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, and Glenn Miller. They placed 2nd in 1992 and 1993 and won another World Championship in 1994.
While the Corps was finally showing competitive success at the highest level, it was not enough to satisfy Mr. B’s dream. He wanted to share “America’s Entertainers” with the rest of the world. The Statesmen began their second mission, which was to spread their special form of entertainment to tens of thousands of individuals in many countries including Canada, Mexico, England, Sweden, Denmark, Brazil, Bermuda, The Netherlands, Holland and France to name a few. The Statesmen spanned the globe covering three continents and many countries.
In the second half of the 90’s, the Statesmen continued to take the lead in redefining the Sr. Drum and Bugle Corps activity. Switching their genre to Broadway and introducing rich, thematic shows, the Statesmen kept a strong foothold on the top of the Sr. Corps circuit winning the 1997 DCA World Championship and American Legion National Championships with their unforgettable rendition of Miss Saigon.
In 1998, they built on that success and created one of the finest corps in drum corps history. With an unforgettable production of West Side Story, the Statesmen became the first and only corps to win the Triple Crown including the DCA World Championships, American Legion National Championships, and the World Show Band Championships in London, England.
Off the field, the Statesmen continued their commitment to serving the Greater Rochester performing arts community by providing opportunities like the Empire Cadets (formally The Little Americans), a reach-out program for inner-city youth. The Statesmen supported many high school marching bands and music boosters by lending equipment, volunteering staff, and providing fundraising performances for their communities.
The 21st Century
While the Empire Statesmen’s competitive success remains a constant, including their 2004 DCA World Championship and an 18th consecutive Top 4 finish in 2005, the organization looks to expand its reach into the performing arts communities, finding innovative ways to entertain audiences and opportunities to promote the pageantry arts beyond the drum corps activity.
Regardless of what the future holds, the Empire Statesmen will continue to live the vision of our Founder, Mr. B.: 1) To pursue excellence in everything we do; 2) to provide opportunities for the young and old to learn and grow through the drum corps activity or any of the other performing arts; 3) and to entertain audiences like no one else has ever seen.
Empire Statesmen - official web site