The Academy is excited to announce the Designers for the 2017 drum and bugle corps. Returning for his fourth season with The Academy and overseeing the overall design as Artistic Director will be Michael Townsend. Also returning to The Academy as Music Designer will be Michael Klesch, who served in this capacity in the years 2009, 2010, 2014, 2015 & 2016.  Jaime Holly, who worked with the corps in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2014, 2015, & 2016 returns to The Academy as Drill Designer.  Percussion Designers include newly appointed Caption Head, Cisco Hance with Mark Eichenberger, and Tim Berg, whom all are continuing their work from previous seasons.  Colorguard design includes Caption Head Gabe Escobedo and Program Designer/Choreographer Chris Velez.   Also engaged in the design process will be returning caption heads Shant Keuroghelian (Visual), and Michael Larkin (Brass).

Michael Townsend
Artistic Director

Michael began his performance career in North Carolina and his performance experience includes, The Cavaliers Colorguard 1996-2000, The Company 1998 and 1999, Crown Guard 2000, and Pride of Cincinnati in 2001. Michael then spent a year as an original member of first U.S. national tour of Blast! After his performance years, Michael moved back to Virginia, where he worked with Bassett and West Johnston HS. During this time he also choreographed for The Study Winterguard in 2002, 03, and 04. The Study was promoted to Independent World class in only their second year of existence.

Michael currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and two children, where he is the Program Coordinator for the Carmel HS marching band and the colorguard designer for Avon, Carmel, and Northview High Schools marching bands and winterguards. He has been choreographing and designing for these programs since 2004, which has resulted in 12 WGI scholastic world class medals and 5 BOA Grand National championships. In addition to these groups, Michael travels the country as a designer, choreographer, coordinator and consultant for numerous marching bands and winter guards, including Pride of Cincinnati WG, Cedar Ridge HS MB, and Paramount WG.

From 2003 to 2015, Michael was the driving force behind the Carolina Crown Colorguard which included their first ever Drum Corps International World Championship in 2013. In 2017 Michael will begin work with the Boston Crusaders as the Color Guard Director as well as the primary designer, choreographer and member of the design team.

2016 will be Michael’s fourth season serving as the lead designer for The Academy Drum and Bugle Corps.

Michael Klesch
Music Designer, Brass Arranger

Michael Klesch is an arranger and clinician for numerous high school and college marching bands across the country. He is the staff arranger for both the University of Alabama Million Dollar Band and the University of Massachusetts Minuteman Marching Band.  His degrees come from West Chester University, a B.S. in Music Education, and from the University of Massachusetts, a Masters in Music. Mr. Klesch has a long and successful career in the Drum Corps activity as a performer, music arranger, and program consultant.

Mr. Klesch was a performer with the Garfield Cadets and finished out his career there as drum major of the 1983 DCI World Champions. After aging-out of drum corps in 1983, Mr. Klesch then served on the Cadets brass staff in 1984 and as the brass arranger for the Cadets from 1985 – 1992 (World Champions in 1985, ’87, and ’90).  He has served as brass arranger for the Phantom Regiment and Crossmen Drum and Bugle Corps and currently serves as the brass arranger and musical director for the Carolina Crown Drum and Bugle Corps. In 2012 Michael was inducted into the Drum Corps International Hall of Fame. This will be his sixth season designing for The Academy, having previously designed the 2009, 2010, 2014, 2015 and 2016 seasons for the corps.

His professional memberships include: M.E.N.C., MMEA (Massachusetts Music Educators As-sociation), Phi Delta Kappa, and the College Music Society. He is an honorary member of Tau Beta Sigma as well as Kappa Kappa Psi (of which he was a founding brother of the chapter at West Chester University).

Mr. Klesch resides in Hadley, Massachusetts with his wife, Heather and their son, Robert.

Jaime Holly
Drill Designer

Jaime Holly is a full time drill designer, visual instructor and consultant living in Long Beach, CA with his wife Rebekah and daughter Parker.   He began his marching career in the soprano line of the Concord Blue Devil B Corps in 1989, moving to the World Champion A Corps in 1991 through 1993.  He returned to the Blue Team in 1997 where he is currently drill writer and visual instructor.

His affinity for mathematical problems can be traced through his Bachelor of Science degree from Fresno State in Mathematics.  Jaime earned a teaching credential from Cal State Hayward and was a math teacher at James Logan High School before he decided to give it up for the fame and fortune of drill writing.

Jaime is the visual caption head and designer for several award winning high schools in BOA and WBA, as well as independent non-profit organizations in DCI and WGI.  He has also served on the DCI Task Force.  Currently, he has the pleasure of working with the Soka Renaissance Vanguard from Tokyo, Japan.

He takes great pride in helping some up and coming organizations reach their respective Finals for the first time in their history.  Namely The Academy reached DCI Finals, Dark Sky Indoor Percussion reached WGI Finals and Blue Springs High School reached BOA Finals.

Some of the Drum Corps he has had the opportunity to work with are:  The Blue Devils, Academy, Bluecoats, Troopers, Mystikal, Pacific Crest and Fusion Core.  The high school groups have included: Blue Springs, LD Bell, Eden Prairie, Homestead, Arcadia, Cy-Fair, Upland, Fountain Valley, Churchill, Clovis West, and James Logan.  He has been making a name for himself within the Indoor Drumline world as well, working with RCC, Dark Sky, Freelancers, and Black Knights.

Dr. Mark Eichenberger
Percussion Arranger

eichenberger-picMark is a freelance percussionist and educator based out of Lawrence, New Jersey. He holds a DMA Percussion Performance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  Mark is a frequent performer for the Princeton Sound Kitchen premiering new works by composers at Princeton. As a teacher he works with the percussion programs at Hunterdon Central and Hopewell Valley High School and maintains a private lesson studio in the Princeton area. He manages the steel drum band Pro Steel, for Gallant Entertainment Inc. where he also performers with the other various ensembles. Before moving to New Jersey, he worked at the University of Texas-Brownsville as a lecturer of percussion and prior to that appointment was a freelance performer and teacher in Chicago.

He has appeared as a soloist with the University of Texas-Brownsville Wind Orchestra, Roma High School Percussion Ensemble, University of Illinois Wind Symphony and Wind Orchestra as well as the Overton High School Wind Ensemble from Memphis, TN. In 2010, he was selected as one of the thirty finalists to compete in the TROMP International Percussion Competition, held in the Netherlands. Mark also performed as a member of the University of Illinois Gamelan Ensemble, at the 2009 Percussive Arts Society International Convention and the 2008 Bali Arts Festival in Denpasar, Bali.

This year will mark his 21st year of involvement with Drum Corps International. He spent ten years as a member of the Phantom Regiment organization from 1995-2004. From 2008 to 2010, he was a Front Ensemble instructor for the Santa Clara Vanguard, serving as Co-Caption Head in 2010. He is excited to return for his fifth year with The Academy, where he started in 2013 instructing the front ensemble. He stepped into the arranging role for The Academy in 2014, and looks forward to serving as Percussion Arranger and Percussion Coordinator for 2017.

Mark is a member of the Vic Firth Education Team and is an artist with Majestic and Mapex.

Cisco Hance
Percussion Arranger

CiscoHanceOsman “Cisco”  Hance  currently resides in Port St. Lucie, FL. He has been involved with DCI since 2003. He started marching with Magic of Orlando under the instruction of Colin McNutt and Brian Tinkel.  In 2005 he joined Carolina Crown and acted as center snare and percussion section leader from 2005-2007. While at Crown he was under the instruction of Brian Tinkel, Jeff Queen, Ian Hale, Lee Beddis, Zach Shlicker, and Luis Rivera.  Cisco has also been teaching WGI Open Class “Stryke Percussion” since 2008. Stryke has placed in the top ranks at WGI finals for several years, receiving the bronze medal in 2008, and silver in 2010 and 2011 in the Independent Open Class. Now in the Independent World Class, the group most recently placed 8th. Cisco remains as the group’s and Battery arranger and ensemble Coordinator.

In 2009, Cisco worked as the snare tech for the Teal Sound Drum and Bugle Corps, where he helped the corps successfully transition into DCI’s World Class.  Subsequently, Cisco became the snare technician for the Madison Scouts Drum and Bugle Corps.  Today, Cisco serves as the Percussion Director/Arranger for the Park Vista Marching Band in Lake Worth, Florida as well as the Director of Percussion at Jupiter High School in Jupiter, FL.  For The Academy Drum and Bugle Corps he served as the Percussion Coordinator in 2014 , as Percussion Manager in 2016, and is looking forward to leading the Percussion Caption in this capacity beginning in 2017.

Gabe Escobedo
Colorguard Caption Head

gabe-picGabe Escobedo color guard career began in 1999, at Palmdale High School. After graduating in 2003, Gabe became an active member of Riverside Community Colleges marching arts program. Performing with The RCC Marching Tigers in 2003-2004, and Independent World class winter guard, Fantasia, in 2005,206,2008, and 2011, where he he earned two WGI world championships titles, and served as captain in 2011. Gabe’s drum corps experience includes Yamato Drum and Bugle corps from Osaka, Japan in 2004, and Santa Clara Vanguard, 2006.

Gabe began his teaching career at a young age with his alma mater, Palmdale High School, 2003-211. Where He gained experience in instruction, choreography, and design, as well as various programs throughout Southern California, Arizona, and Utah such as Ayala High School, Fountain Valley High School, RCC Marching Tigers and Pacific Crest Drum and Bugle Corps. Gabe currently teaches at Nogales High School and Rancho Cucamonga High School.

Gabe resides in Riverside, Ca with his partner of 5 years and is very excited to return for his 7th season with the Academy in 2016.

Chris Velez
Program Designer/Choreographer

generic_profileChris Velez began his performing arts career with the Riverside Community College Marching Tigers, Fantasia Winter Guard, and the Concord Blue Devils Drum & Bugle Corps. Leaving his performing days behind him, Chris transitioned into the role of choreographer, designer, and instructor. Over the course of 15+ years, he has had the privilege of working with several groups that include Ramona (Riverside) HS, Poway HS, Chino Hills HS, Riverside Community College – Marching Tigers, Fantasia, and the RCC Winter Drum Line. He has also been fortunate enough to work with organizations in Japan such as the Yamato Drum & Bugle Corps and the Yokohama Scouts.  In 2011 & 2012 Chris served The Academy as Color Guard Caption Head.  In 2016 he served as Production Designer & Choreographer, for which he is excited to return for in 2017.

Tim Berg
Digital Designer

Tim Berg, M.M. is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign in Percussion Performance and Literature as well as Music Education, studying Percussion with William Moersch and Ricardo Flores and Composition/Electro-Acoustic Music with Scott Wyatt.  He is currently an in-demand high school percussion arranger, teacher, and consultant throughout Illinois at groups such as Lincoln Way Central HS, Mahomet-Seymour HS, John Hersey HS, and Fremd HS.  Tim was a member of the Santa Clara Vanguard Front Ensemble in 2009 and 2010 seasons, and is excited to return to The Academy for his fifth year as digital designer.  In his teaching, Tim strives to make students hyper-aware of how to identify and consistently produce great rhythms, articulations, and sounds on their instruments as well as how to approach each opportunity in rehearsal or performance as a chance to make the best music they can.  As an electronic music producer/arranger, he creates interest with evolving sounds made up of many layers throughout the stereo field meant to enhance the drum corps experience for fans of all ages.

Shant Keuroghelian
Visual Caption Head

Shant KeuroghelianShant Keuroghelian is involved with both the musical and visual aspects of the marching arts. His marching career began with Pacific Crest in 2006. In 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011 he marched with the 17-time World Champion Blue Devils Drum and Bugle Corps, serving as Trumpet Section Leader his last year.

Shant has had the privilege of working with a vast number of ensembles including Rancho Verde High School, Rancho Cucamonga High School, Chino Hills High School, Etiwanda High School, Mission Viejo High School, Colony High School, Chaffey High School, Ayala High School, Blue Devils “B” Drum and Bugle Corps, and Pacific Crest Drum and Bugle Corps. In the summer of 2015, Shant made his international debut working with the Calgary Stampede Showband of Calgary, Alberta, Canada as a clinician. 2015 also marked the first year of his drill-writing career with Anaheim High School, in Anaheim, California. He is currently the Visual Caption Head at Upland High School (his Alma Mater) in Upland, California, and the Visual Caption Head at The Academy Drum and Bugle Corps from Tempe, Arizona.

Receiving his bachelor’s degree in Music Education from California State University, Fullerton, Shant is now Assistant Director at Pioneer Jr. High School in Upland, Ca. He is also a private trumpet teacher and a freelance trumpet player, performing in a variety of venues, including Disneyland.

Michael Larkin
Brass Caption Head

Michael Larkin is in his first year as Director of Bands at The Colony High School in The Colony, Texas.  Prior to coming to The Colony, he spent six years as Director of Bands at Jupiter High School in Palm Beach County, Florida.  During his time at Jupiter High School, the band claimed two state championship marching band titles (2014 and 2015) and finished in the top five each year of his leadership.  The concert bands, percussion ensembles, chamber ensembles, jazz ensembles, winter guards, and winter percussion consistently received superior ratings at district and state level assessments.

Mr. Larkin received a Master of Music Degree in Music Performance -Trombone from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem. At UNCSA he performed with the symphony orchestra, wind ensemble, jazz ensemble and the trombone choir. Prior to attending UNCSA he received a Bachelor of Music Degree in Music Education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. While at UNCG, Mr. Larkin performed with the wind ensemble, jazz band, symphonic band, brass ensemble, undergraduate trombone quartet, and the trombone ensemble.

Mr. Larkin currently serves as the brass caption head for The Academy Drum and Bugle Corps, a position he has held for 3 years.  He has also served as an instructor for the Boston Crusaders, the Santa Clara Vanguard, as well as the 2007 Division III world champion Memphis Sound Drum and Bugle Corps.  He was a member of Carolina Crown Drum and Bugle Corps from 2003 to 2006 and the Santa Clara Vanguard in 2008. Mr. Larkin has taught numerous high school marching bands, concert ensembles, and winter percussion ensembles throughout the country, and has also served as a guest conductor and adjudicator for marching band festivals.

Mr. Larkin has studied trombone privately with James Miller of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and UNCSA, and Dr. Randy Kohlenberg from UNCG. He has also taken lessons from other artists such as Thomas Burge, Irvin Wagner, and Tony Mazzochi. He has studied conducting with Dr. Kevin Geraldi and Mark Norman.