Lia Huntington - Reno, Nevada
When I decided to audition for the Mandarins in 2018 for the 2019 season, I was 15 and didn’t think I was going to make the corps. I just wanted to go for the experience and to learn what I’d need for the next audition camp I went to, probably the following year. It was always a dream to march drum corps and getting a callback, and then a contract was incredibly fulfilling. I had a very maturing experience throughout the season with all of the responsibilities and tribulations. Learning how to manage these has helped me to build a plan for my future. Starting drum corps young was tough, but I think that the lessons I learned in drum corps will help me as I move onto college and beyond. I hope to pursue a professional degree in Psychology, post high school in Oregon or Washington.
Ryan Zeutzius - Beaverton, Oregon
My name is Ryan. I am a 20-year-old from Beaverton, Oregon who marches tenor drums here at the Mandarins. I remember seeing the Mandarins perform for the first time over two years ago at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia and being totally enthralled. I was more captivated by the music and visuals of that show than any other show I saw that day. Eventually, I decided to audition here the following season. To my surprise (and delight), I ended up earning a contract to march in the Mandarins drumline that very next summer and I have been part of the organization ever since.
Besides spending my time behind a set of drums (or more often a practice pad), I also attend the University of Portland, studying biology and psychology. Being a college student means juggling many simultaneous responsibilities and effectively managing one’s time, which are both skills that the Mandarins organization has helped me develop. Simultaneous responsibility is the name of the game in a drum corps rehearsal or performance, when you need to remember what music you’re playing, what drill you’re marching, what choreography you’re doing, and where you’re listening or watching — all at the same time.
Frankly, I could go on and on about the lessons I have learned in drum corps and how they apply to my education, my work, and my life in general. Teamwork, dedication, fortitude, communication, creativity, adaptability, and the list continues. My experience with the Mandarins has changed my life in big ways, through the people I have met and the memories I have made on tour, but it has also influenced the smaller nuances of my everyday life as well. The way I approach work, the way I interact with others, and the way I see myself have all been affected by my time with the Mandarins. Both consciously and subconsciously, the Mandarins are with me wherever I go.
Bonus fun fact: I was born in 2000, which is, in the Chinese calendar, the Year of the Dragon!