UHS students audition for world renowned drum corp

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UHS students audition for world renowned drum corp
Annie Nguyen (Sr.) performs at a football game with the UHS marching band previously this year. (M. Chinn)

By VICKI CHEN
Staff Writer

On December 13 and 14, Nahoko Naka (Sr.), Maggie Li (Sr.), Mai Tran (Sr.), Annie Nguyen (Sr.), David Geller (Sr.), Jarod Green (Jr.) and Grant Choi (Sr.) auditioned for Pacific Crest Drum and Bugle Corps, part of Drum Corps International and a world-class junior drum and bugle corps, or marching band. A prestigious program, Pacific Crest calls for an extraordinary amount of talent and skill in its performers. From University High School, Li and Nguyen got callbacks, while Naka and Tran were offered contracts.

Musicians in Pacific Crest tour and travel throughout the U.S. to perform. The prestige of the program makes the auditions a very competitive process. Tran described the auditions as “pretty scary because there were people from all over Southern California who really knew what they were doing” present.

“It’s a world-class drum corp so I really didn’t expect to get in right away,” Nguyen said. “I was actually relieved when I got a callback because I thought I wouldn’t be able to make it at all because most of the auditionees there were really good and knew what they were doing.”

Nguyen’s fellow performer, Li, shared her surprise. “I was really surprised to get a callback considering the amount of talent at the audition camp,” said Li. “The experience was really eye opening because I was surrounded by people from everywhere who love doing the same thing as me (dancing, spinning, performing) and the atmosphere just kept me motivated and working hard through the entire weekend.”

Drum Corps International performs at various venues across the globe, receiving acclaim wherever it goes. “I first learned about Drum Corps when I went to see a Drum Corps International show in Walnut three years ago. The performances inspired me to be a great color guard performer, and since then I have had a dream of marching a drum corps show,” said Naka. “I thought that this year would be a great year to try out for Pacific Crest because they are local and also a great drum corps for beginners. I wanted to see if my skills were good enough for a world class drum corp.”

The performers had to dedicate much time for preparation to perform well at their auditions.  “I decided to try out about a month before the audition date,” said Tran. “I pretty much practiced every weekend and every day during Thanksgiving break in addition to our usual rehearsals, and I started running and exercising a lot more.”

Those who auditioned were rewarded for their hard work and were able to learn new things just from the experience alone. “I learned so much in just two days and this experience in general has just taught me to not underestimate myself and to always be confident and push outside my comfort zone,” said Li.

Similarly, Nguyen described how she “learned a lot of dance movements, flags, and weapons techniques,” “got a lot stronger,” and “cleaned up” her techniques. “I feel a lot more confident coming back from the Pacific Crest audition camp,” Nguyen said.

When asked about what she would do since she received a contract, Naka said, “During the summer I will get to do what I love best while touring around the U.S. and performing at major stadiums for thousands of people.”

“I would advise anyone who’s thinking about drum corp to try it even if they’re unsure about joining,” Tran said. “The auditions were the longest yet quickest two days and were really humbling. It gives you a lot of perspective on how amazing the performers are.”

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