Students Begin Tour with Spirit of Atlanta
Brent Murphy (right) practices the trombone part of a brass trio at one of Spirit of Atlanta's camps during the spring semester. Credit: Brent Murphy, Instagram
Drum Corps International (DCI) is a league that showcases the best marching band members in the country, and this summer, several members of the Georgia Tech Marching Band are part of it.
Spirit of Atlanta is one of DCI’s World Class corps, its highest rank, and boasts a director and several members from the Tech community. Chris Moore, director of Athletic Bands at Georgia Tech, is also the corps director at Spirit. Each year, he’s accompanied by several Tech students who choose to spend their summers marching with the corps. For these students, the opportunity to pursue their passion for marching at the highest level supersedes the pull of a traditional summer internship.
“I had been interested in DCI and Spirit for a while, but I didn't think I would ever actually get the opportunity to do it,” said Sam West, a rising third-year chemical engineering major and one of the trombone section leaders for Tech’s marching band. “After seeing the positive experiences that other people at Tech had, though, I decided it was worth it to audition.”
Spirit recently wrapped up the process of spring training. For 35 days, members stayed at Gordon State College in Barnesville, Georgia and Luella High School in Locust Grove, Georgia, where they practiced for approximately 12 hours a day. Despite the rigorous schedule, the members see the rewards that will come from it.
“A lot of the drum corps activity is finding ways to break through your internal walls and push through mental limitations to play at a higher level,” said West. “I hope that at the end of the summer, I will come out of the experience a stronger person, both physically and mentally.”
West is one of two rookies to come from Tech, joining Adam Gray, a rising second-year student and mellophone player. They make up half of the yellow jacket population within the corps, marching alongside two veteran members.
For Brent Murphy, Spirit has been part of his life longer than Georgia Tech. The rising second-year spent the summer before his first year of college marching drum corps and is returning this summer for round two.
“I came back to Spirit to come back to the family I made last year,” he said. “The corps means a lot to me, and continuing my story here was something I felt I needed to do.”
Tech students have even managed to land leadership roles within the drum corps. Hope Wamae, a rising third-year mechanical engineering major, was named a captain of the Spirit of Atlanta color guard after just one season. Though her second year has already proven to be different than the first, Wamae says that some things about the guard remain the same.
“This staff and color guard is so positive and encouraging,” she said. “We're working hard, but we're still having fun, and I love that.”
As veterans, Wamae and Murphy have a common mentality. Now that they know the ins and outs of drum corps, they can focus on giving back and being a role model to the rookies.
Spirit of Atlanta’s 2019 show, Neon Underground, recently made its tour debut on June 24 in Evansville, Indiana. This was the first of 23 shows that the corps will perform all across the country, including one in Valdosta, Georgia on July 8; one in Hoschton, Georgia on July 9; and the Southeastern Championship in Atlanta on July 27. After that, Spirit will compete at the DCI Championship, which begins August 8 in Indianapolis, Indiana. And if there’s one thing the members of Spirit are excited to do, it’s show the world what they’ve been working on.
Said Murphy, “We really turned it up to 11 for this production, and I can’t wait to see how it turns out.”