Arranger - Jerry Kelsey (Bio coming soon!)
Brass Caption Head - Jon Gifford
Low Brass Consultant - Dr. Jason S. Ladd
Brass Consultant - Dr. Cecil Austin
Brass Technician - Christopher Reid
Brass Technician - Stephen West
Tuba Technician - Randall Bennett
Brass Technician - Steven C I Wright
Brass Consultant - Lansing R. Dimon
Jon Gifford, known in the Drum Corps community as "Big Country", holds a degree in Music Education from East Carolina University with a concentration in Trumpet. While in college he was a member of all ensembles holding section leader/soloist positions with the Marching Band and Pep Band, Principal chairs in the Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Band, and lead trumpet in the prestigious ECU Jazz Ensemble A. While a part of the Jazz Ensemble, he was been privaliged to share the stage with such jazz greats as Jon Faddis, Wycliffe Gordon, Fred Wesley of the JB Horns, Terrell Stafford, The Diva Big Band, Carl Allen, and Winard Harper.
Jon has been involved in the drum and bugle corps activity for over 14 years in both DCA and DCI. While a part of DCA, he has held educational and soloist positions with Carolina Gold Drum and Bugle Corps, Rochester Crusaders Drum and Bugle Corps, and Ghost Riders Mini-Corps. He has won received the gold medal as a soloist in the 2008 DCA I&E competition on trumpet as well as a gold medal in the small ensemble competition in 2011. His DCI involvement stems to Tarheel Sun Drum and Bugle Corps and was a soloist during his Age-out season with East Coast Jazz Drum and Bugle Corps in 2004.
Jon currently performs with the Piedmont Wind Symphony based in Winston Salem, NC as the principal trumpet. He has shared the stage with Arturo Sandoval, Paul Anka, and The Three Irish Tenors. He is also pursuing a musical career with the 440th National Guard Band based in Raleigh, NC to be a Miltary Bandsman.
Currently Jon resides in Madison, NC with his wife Brenda (who has been a part of drum corps for 10 years) and his dog and cat, Miles and Bear. He teaches Middle School and High School in Danbury, NC. with his wife of 7 years. At state festival, he has received ratings of "Excellent" and his high school has received superior ratings as well as numerous first place finishes with his marching band in the areas of music and visual.
Jon is very excited to be a part of the Pioneer family and looks forward to the success of the season!
Dr. Jason S. Ladd is in his fourth year teaching at Marquette University where he serves as director of both the Marquette Symphony Orchestra and Marquette Symphonic Band as well as co-directs the Marquette Pep Band. His previous positions include teaching in the public schools in the cities of Oswego (NY) and Syracuse (NY) and also serving as an adjunct professor in tuba and euphonium at Syracuse University. Musicians he has performed with include the national touring company of Chicago, vocalist Nancy Wilson, saxophonist Dave Liebman, tubist Howard Johnson, and conductor Kazuyoshi Akiyama. He has studied tuba with Toby Hanks, Cherry Beauregard, Don Harry, Ed Diefes, and Paul Ebbers as well as euphonium with Mark Kellogg. In masterclasses he has played for Velvet Brown, Roger Bobo, Mark Cox, and Phil Sinder.
Dr. Ladd received a Bachelor’s degree in Tuba Performance/Music Education from the Eastman School of Music, Master’s degrees in Tuba Performance and Music Education from Syracuse University, and the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Music Education and Conducting from Florida State University. As a composer his works have been read by the Buffalo Philharmonic, the Cassatt Quartet, and the Eppes Quartet as well as performances by the Eastman School of Music’s Tuba Mirum and the Syracuse University Wind Ensemble. His compositions _Brown Suede_, for trombone sextet, and _The Marzan Forest_, for tuba and piano, are available through Holben Publications.
Recently he has presented at the National Conference of the College Orchestra Directors Association and for the North Central Conference of the College Band Directors National Association. Dr. Ladd has served on the advisory board for NAfME’s Music Educator’s Journal and is currently on the strategic planning committee for CODA. His other memberships include the American Federation of Musicians, American Society of Composers Authors and Publishers, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, and Pi Kappa Lambda.
Dr. Cecil Austin is a nationally recognized outdoor pageantry adjudicator, with over thirty years of experience in the marching band and drum and bugle corps arena. More than eight states have utilized his expertise in their championship marching band contest. In addition, musical groups taught by Dr. Austin have won state championships in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Tennessee, and Kentucky as well as two Drum Corps International championships.
Dr. Austin graduated from UW-Whitewater with two degrees in both instrumental and vocal music education. He later received his masters degree from UW-Milwaukee in education of the emotionally disturbed and learning disabled. He received his PhD from the University of Minnesota in educational psychology and problems of urban education. He has also completed a two year internship in clinical psychology. Dr. Austin has taught at the college level for five years, at UW-Whitewater, the University of Minnesota and the University of Northern Colorado. As a music educator, his professional peers honored him with his election as President of the Milwaukee Music Directors Association. Last year he retired from the Milwaukee Public Schools, where he was the director of bands and choirs at John Marshall High School. He presently is on the faculty at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee.
Chris is entering his first season on Staff at Pioneer. He began his drum corps career in 2000 while marching with the Govenaires out of St. Peter, MN. Chris has over 15 years of being in the marching activity and has instructed high school marching bands in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.
His marching career consists one season with the Govenaires, 2 years at Pioneer where he earned the section award for the Baritone/Euphoniums his age out season. He then went on to start marching Minnesota Brass where he has been a part of two top hornline winners in DCA as well as being a part of the first corps outside the Northeast to win the DCA Championship. Chris has marched and played the trombone, baritone, euphonium, and tuba in his marching career.
Chris is a 2006 graduate of Crown College in the Twin Cities with a B.A in Sports Management. Currently he is working on his Master’s degree in Business Administration. During his off time when he is not studying or working, he enjoys outdoor activities and being with his friends.
Mr. Stephen West will be returning for his fifth season as an instructor for Pioneer.
He marched with the 1996 Division II Silver Medalist Pioneer before entering the U.S. Navy. From 1996 to 2005, he was an Air Traffic Controller in the Navy, serving both at sea and on land.
While stationed in Southern California, Steve performed with the SoCal Dream Senior Drum and Bugle Corps from 2003-2005, serving on the Brass Staff in 2005 as well.
In 2010, he graduated from the University of Wyoming with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education. While at the university, he had the privilege of performing with concert, marching, and jazz ensembles and served as a staff member of the marching band.
Steve returned to Pioneer in 2007 on the visual staff and taught the corps again in 2008, 2009, and 2010.
He teaches Kindergarten through 5th grade music in Newcastle, Wyoming.
Randall Bennett began his musical and marching experience in 2003 at Cicero-North Syracuse High School. After high school, Randall went to Onondaga Community College and received his Associates Degree in music. Randall studied brass performance for 10 years, including brass instruction from John Raschella and Bill Harris, both former performers with the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra.
In 2007, Randall joined The Brigadiers Drum & Bugle Corps, playing contra. He was an active member of the Brigadiers, through their final 2009 season. After the corps went on hiatus, Randall became a member of The Syracuse Brigadiers Alumni Corps. Here he played contra, and soon became Vice President of the corps board.
Randall currently teaches with The Baldwinsville High School Marching Band, where he has been the brass caption head since 2009. He is also the visual caption head of Baldwinsville’s Indoor Percussion Ensemble since 2011. In his time in Baldwinsville the band has won a NYS Championship, Maryland/Delaware State Championship, Gator Bowl Championship, and several other honors and awards. In the summer of 2011, Randall joined The Edge which is a staged Drum & Bugle Corps that performs all around the country. In The Edge, Randall has performed with many locally and national renowned musicians including Joey Pero, Roland Garceau, Elisha Willson, and Al Chez.
Lansing is the current Director of Operations for Pioneer. In this role, he manages several administrative duties, including social media, public relations, marketing, grant writing, recruiting, curriculum, handbook and policies, and other day to day operations. He is currently the Assistant Band Director at Waukesha North High School, where he is the assistant director of the 6 time state champion “Northstar” Marching Band, teaches several ensembles, and music technology.
Lansing began his drum corps involvement with the Syracuse Brigadiers in 1994. Lansing has over 25 years in the marching activity, and has instructed, consulted, designed and arranged in the marching musical activity since 1994 working with several high school field bands, college bands, drum corps and winterguards. Additionally, he has served in administrative and leadership positions on several boards of directors for alumni and fraternal organizations throughout his professional career and has higher education experience in student affairs, residence life and student programming.
During his 17 year tenure with The Brigadiers he has marched baritone, mellophone, soprano, served as an assistant drum major and served on the Board of Directors as President and Vice President. Lansing started his involvement with Pioneer as a low brass tech during the 2008 and 2009 seasons before becoming the Brass Caption Head in 2011. Past teaching include instructing for the Syracuse Brigadiers Alumni, Kingston Grenadiers (2010, 2011) and Spirit of Atlanta (summer 2000).
Lansing is a 1994 and 2005 graduate of Syracuse University, where he earned his B.M. in Music Education, M.S. in Instructional Design, Development and Evaluation, and M.S. in Music Education. When not involved in his studies or work, he continues to develop his skills as a composer and musician (both instrumental and vocal) and integrative educator, exploring the use of technology and development of instructional media in music education. He is currently pursuing a C.A.S. in Educational Administration at State University of New York at Plattsburgh. For more information, please visit www.lansingrdimon.com.
Steven is 22 years old and is from Sheffield, England. He attended the Sheffield College of Music from 2008 to 2011 studying and earning a Bachelors in Music Technology and Film Production. He is a Pioneer alumnus, having marched for three years on soprano. During the 2011 and 2012 seasons Steven was the Brass Sergeant for the corps, as well as a soloist. During the 2013 season he will be teaching both brass and visual throughout the season, as well as assisting with other duties around the corps.
Steven began his drum corps experience at the age of 10 where he played with corps called Concord and marched with them for 9 years. During his time with Concord he has won 4 DCUK titles, came 21st in the World Show Band Championship, won DCUK I&E competitions and has toured Europe. Once he had finished competing in 2009 he then turned his attention to teaching and helped form a junior corps called Concord Allstars. With the Allstars Steven has written and co ordinated the shows since their very first season of competition and in doing so helped them to a second place finish in 2012. He has helped with many different aspects of the corps from helping teaching brass & drums, going to local schools to help with recruitment and general week to week background work.
As well as his drum corps background Steven has played in many different ensembles which includes; Big Band, Jazz Combos, Musicals, Wind Orchestras, Funk/Ska Bands, Ceremonial Fanfare Teams & Brass Bands.