The Spirit of Northwestern (SON) members compete with ‘marching’s major league’

croppedimage680382-DrumCorpsSeveral members of Northwestern State University’s Spirit of Northwestern Demon Marching Band are performing with a variety of drum corps this summer as part of the Drum Corps International world championships. According to its website, “Drum Corps International (DCI) has developed into a powerful, nonprofit global youth activity with far-reaching artistic, educational and organizational influence. Through the annual DCI Tour and more than 35 World Championships in 17 North American cities, Drum Corps International provides entertainment to millions through live performances and nationally-televised events. Drum Corps International is Marching Music’s Major League.”

SON member Aaron Bradford of Frisco, Texas, is serving in the prestigious roll of drum major for the Blue Knights Drum and Bugle Corps along with brass line members Jorge Alarcon of Arlington, Texas, (tuba) and Eric Neely of Burleson, Texas, (baritone). In addition, NSU alum and Blue Knights veteran Chris “C-Dub” Williams of Delcambre is serving as a brass instructor this summer.

Aaron Martin of Alexandria (baritone) is traveling with The Troopers Drum and Bugle Corps while Spencer Jones of Pineville (percussion), Heather Ford of Denham Springs (color guard), Rhett Thiels of Alexandria (trumpet), Dan Ramstad of Bossier City (trumpet) and Xavier Matthews of Gray (percussion) are performing with the Louisiana Stars Drum and Bugle Corps. Alison Wray of Destrehan is a member of the color guard for the Spirit of Atlanta Drum and Bugle Corps.

Drum Corps participants usually rehearse 12 to 15 hours a day all summer working a field show up to near perfection. Drum and bugle corps are the pinnacle for marching musicians around the world. The best young brass and percussion performers from all over the globe join with color guards of the highest quality to embark on a grueling national tour with the hopes of being crowned DCI World Champions in August.

“This summer has been a culmination of three years invested in this corps,” Bradford said. “The talent is endless, the vibe is right and we have an amazing show. Being surrounded by a group of so many hardworking and motivated individuals is very exciting and worth every moment spent in the summer heat.”

“Definitely the hardest summer of my life,” Alarcon said. “The experience is just unbelievable. Travel, friends, performing, rehearsals, etc. Getting to perform for thousands nationwide is my favorite part. All the pain, tears, blood and exhaustion is worth it. Definitely a better player as well.”

“Marching in drum corps is one of the best decisions I have made so far,” Martin said. “Not only did I get advanced and extensive feedback for my musical abilities, but I also learned so many things that I can apply to my everyday life. Even though drum corps is very extensive on practices, it all pays off when I perform in front of thousands of people wanting to see the show I’ve put countless hours into.”

Each year, more than 8,000 students audition for the than 3,500 positions available in top-tier DCI member corps. The Denver, Colorado-based Blue Knights will perform in Dallas on July 20 and in Little Rock, Arkansas, on July 22.

by Jeff Mathews