The Optimists Alumni Drum & Bugle Corps
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Who We Are
The Optimists Alumni is a self-supporting Drum & Bugle Corps based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. We are a non-competitive, all age corps. While we continually strive to improve the quality of our show, performing is our hobby but not our life.
Although many of our members marched with drum corps during the 1960s and 1970s, we have members who vary in age from the 20s through to the 70s. We enjoy entertaining others and we strive to strike a balance between the demands of performing excellence, on one hand, and our personal lives and families on the other.
If you have the time and an interest in sharing our dedication and enthusiasm, please contact Doug Darwin, Recruiting Committee Chairman, to learn how to join. Send email to Doug (dhdarwin at rogers dot com)
Optimists Alumni at the 2004 G.A.S. show
The story begins with the 2004 G.A.S. show, which was to be held in Hamilton, Ontario, a mere 40 miles from Toronto. Over a brew (or two) some former members of the Toronto Optimists and the Seneca Optimists contemplated the creation of an Alumni Corps that would perform once, at G.A.S. 2004.
Waterloo Band Festival, 2006
(photo by Peter McCusker)
With a lot of work they managed to borrow instruments and gather together enough bodies to form the nucleus of the corps. There were former Toronto Optimists, former Seneca Optimists and representatives of many other corps!
Having gathered the instruments and bodies to play them, they needed to develop the talent that had lain dormant for so many years (some members hadn't touched an instrument in over 50 years!).
After a great deal of blood, sweat and tears (and a few choice words) their work bore fruit. In September 2003, at a Toronto Optimists – Seneca Optimists alumni picnic, the Optimists Alumni Corps first performed — to a very enthusiastic (and extremely partisan) public.
Somehow that "one show" grew into a second show, a third and more. The borrowed instruments were replaced with a set of well-used horns and a new set of custom-made drums was purchased.
2007 heralded a new beginning for the corps. We got real uniforms – gone were the Golf Shirts and Baseball caps. Together with the uniforms there was a rise in performance expectations. We began doing a drill and, for the first time, we went to the DCA Alumni Spectacular in Rochester, NY.
The Optimists Alumni Drum Corps is now in its eight year. While most of our members live within a hundred miles of Toronto, there are those who regularly commute from as far away as Ottawa.
Our membership, which was once mostly former Toronto or Seneca Optimists, has expanded to the point where about half our members are non-Optimists (but not pessimists!). Today, we have members who represent more than 40 different drum corps, as well as a few bands. We even have members who have never been in a band or drum corps. And a new tradition is, perhaps, beginning as we now have a few parents and their "kids" playing in the same corps!
Our performances have covered a variety of venues including the Waterloo Band Festival, the Toronto St Patrick’s Day parade, Toronto Argonaut football games, the 2006 MuchMusic awards and the 2007 – 2010 DCA Alumni Spectaculars in Rochester.
After so many years of not playing, you could say that we began as novices. First we struggled to once again learn to play our instruments. Then we focused on playing well. After that, we added a drill. At each stage our goal was to improve both our personal skills and our show.
Who know what the future will hold? What can certainly be said is that we will continue, in the tradition of all drum corps people, to have fun, to enjoy the company of friends, to entertain others and, of course, to strive for excellence.
If you want to play music, have fun,
and are willing to be challenged
Come and Join Us!