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Navasota hosts Mandarins

July 26, 2023 - 00:00
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    Examiner photos by Celeste Anguiano The world class drum and bugle corps team, Sacramento Mandarins, camped and rehearsed at Navasota High School before competing at DCI Houston July 21.

Navasota High School hosted the Sacramento Mandarins, a world class drum and bugle corps from Sacramento California July 21, as they prepared to compete at Drum Corps International Houston.

The Mandarins, consisting of 153 members from around the world, are on their 60th Anniversary Tour consisting of 22 performances and competitions. Members range in age from 17-22. They have already competed at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena California, in Tempe Arizona, Fort Collins Colorado, Ogden Utah, Monroe Louisiana, Salem North Carolina and many other places.

Navasota provided the corps a place to sleep and rehearse between competitions. They arrived in Navasota around 4 a.m. July 21 and camped in Rattler Gym. The Mandarins had a public rehearsal later that day at Rattler Stadium from 11:30 a.m. until 1:45 p.m. to prepare for DCI Houston at Tomball ISD Stadium.

Navasota High School Band Director David Holland said the Mandarins asked Navasota to be a host school in 2022, but he was at a band director’s conference and unable to accommodate. This year he said he was excited to host the corp. The Mandarins unloaded an arsenal of equipment onto Rattler Stadium to rehearse their 2023 production “Sinnerman.” Members split into sectionals and began rehearsal with conditioning drills in blistering Texas heat. With precision, each group rehearsed to perfect their portion of the show.

Mandarin’s Ensemble Director Ben Pyles, of San Antonio, said tryouts begin as early as December. He said when traveling they rehearse at various locations including high schools, community centers and colleges.

The energetic show features auxiliary members spinning in cages, flags, rifles, swords and world class drumline, bugles and more. Holland said hosting corps of this caliber is an awesome experience. Some of the high school band members attended rehearsal and many others were able to watch the DCI Houston competition that night.

The Mandarins placed fourth at DCI Houston out of eight corps. They placed fifth out of 20 corps the following day in San Antonio. Competition concludes Aug. 10-12 at the DCI World Championship Finals in Indianapolis, Indiana.