Marching Trojans On the Move this Summer
This summer, three Marching Trojans and the band director from Saint James School participated in an international music competition program representing their school in the Southwind Drum & Bugle Corps: Saint James Director of Bands Dr. Greg Jackson, Senior Jack Branham, Sophomore Paul Kreischer, and eighth grade student Saddlar Berrey. Southwind is a member of Drum Corps International (DCI); drum corps differ from marching bands as they use only brass and percussion instrumentation.
Thousands of musicians audition for drum corps units in a myriad of U.S. cities each year. Southwind is based out of Mobile, Alabama and this summer included musicians from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. There is a lengthy process of auditioning which begins in November each year. The musicians are vying for coveted membership in an ensemble against hundreds of other individual competitors for each position. Jack Branham earned a position playing tuba for Southwind, Paul Kreischer earned a position playing synthesizer, and Saddlar Berrey earned a position on the mellophone line. Once each player arrives at rehearsals in June, they do not return home until early August. A typical day in a drum corps consists of breakfast around 8:00 a.m., rehearsal until lunch time, followed by another rehearsal block, and then travel time to the show site to perform. After each show, the musicians pack their equipment, usually around 11:00 p.m., before loading their buses to travel to the next competition site/city. Each drum corps crosses the nation competing throughout the summer and completes the season at the championship event in Indianapolis, Indiana in early August. STJ’s Saddlar Berrey was the youngest person marching Southwind this year and received the Most Improved member at the end of the season. In 2018, Southwind placed 10th in the Open Class World Championships. 2019 proved to be a breakout season for Southwind – placing 5th in the Championship – a notably rare achievement in just one season. Southwind also won Most Improved Corps, an honor voted on by all DCI members.
STJ’s Dr. Jackson joined the Southwind staff this summer as a Percussion Consultant. His job was to not only make sure the different percussion technicians were set up for success during the competitions, but he was also responsible for continually evaluating the music arrangements and making adjustments as needed to the brass and percussion music so that all parts were integrated for a high caliber performance.
As the self-styled "Marching Music's Major League," DCI's mission is to create an environment for participating corps to engage in education, competition, entertainment, and the promotion of individual growth. Southwind preparations have already begun for next summer; visit Southwind.org for more information and a competition schedule – they perform in central Alabama each year during their competition season.