Meet Our Corps Members

Marjon van Dijke - Netherlands

I’m Marjon, and am 21 years old and living in the Netherlands. Currently, I am majoring in history at Utrecht University. I started playing trumpet at a young age and joined a Dutch drum and bugle corps. Every year, there are a few people from the Netherlands who audition and, sometimes, get to march with a DCI corps. After seeing my first DCI video, I realized I wanted that too! 

In the fall of 2018, I decided to audition for the Mandarins. I had been following the corps for a few years already and really liked the style and character of the organization. After seeing a video of the 2018 Mandarins show I knew for sure that this is the place I wanted to go to. I sent in a video audition and was very excited when I was told I got contracted for the 2019 season. Marching with the Mandarins in 2019 was a fantastic experience and I returned for the 2020 season to age-out but then the COVID pandemic broke out.

Despite the fact I cannot (physically) be with the Mandarins at the moment, I still enjoy the experiences I had and the lessons I learned on a regular basis. One of the valuable skills I learned at Mandarins is to really focus and concentrate on the thing you are doing. Be present and be in the moment. Being aware of your own performance and behavior is an essential skill to reach your goals. This is something that is helping me not only in my academic career and work but also in my personal life.

Another life lesson I learned at the Mandarins is the value of teamwork. Together everyone really achieves more. I think that my experiences with the drum corps will help me with cooperation and communication in my future career. In conclusion, the Mandarins have taught me how to be a better trumpet player and marcher but also provided me with useful insights about other aspects of life. And for that, I am grateful.  

Pierce Elkhatib - Calgary, Alberta, Canada

I was first introduced to the concept of being a performer in middle school.  I started playing trumpet in 2010 in the seventh grade, performing with the school concert band and finding a new passion for myself in the process. Fast forward two years, my band director spoke to me about joining a local marching band, The Bishop Grandin Marching Ghosts, which is one of the few high school marching bands in western Canada situated out of Calgary Alberta. I joined at 14 years old with broken promises of a trip to Germany but was instead granted the opportunity of a trip to watch and perform in exhibition in the early season West-Coast competitive circuits. After that summer I worked to fulfill a dream of becoming a part of the history of DCI. After high school and several failed auditions, then trumpet tech Patrick Keeley approached me about auditioning for the Mandarins. After talking, I flew down (to Sacramento) and since then I have been a contracted member with the corps.

In the ‘off-season’ I’ve been teaching beginner trumpet lessons and staying connected with our small marching community teaching both marching basics and brass music. Now at 22 years old and being an active member during the Covid-19 pandemic, I’ve been very thankful for the resources the drum corps has given me, ranging from having some of the best teachers available to help me improve, to being given the chance to meet people who’ve become successful in music and have gone through the activity themselves.

Flor Zuniga Gonzalez - San Jose, California

I’m Flor Zuniga Gonzalez, a 19-year-old from Mountain View, California. I attend San Jose State University and I am pursuing a degree in Aviation. I also play the tuba and like to hike around the Bay Area. I marched 2019 with Santa Clara Vanguard Cadets and the 2020 season would have been my rookie year with the Mandarins.

I decided to join the Mandarins because I have always liked their dark-themed shows. After watching them perform a couple of times, I wanted to be a Mandarin. When I attended an audition camp, it just felt right. After meeting returning members and other auditionees and a couple of blocks later, I wanted to be back. It was a feeling I cannot quite describe.

I am currently a freshman with an end goal to become an airline pilot, but at least for now, I am trying to get through school and flight school on my own. Although my end goal or career isn’t within a musical path, the Mandarins have made me a better person as a whole. Showing up prepared, and having the drive and dedication needed to chase after a goal, dream, or passion are some of the few lessons I have learned within the Mandarins. Also, doing my best the first time around and making the best out of strange times. And being kind, which I think should be remembered more at times. Mandarins have helped me grow into the person I am today and helped me be a better student, musician, and aspiring pilot.

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