Nine drum corps of high school- and college-aged performers will go head-to-head Tuesday in Broken Arrow during Drum Corps International’s Drums of Summer event.
The annual competition has been hosted by the Pride of Broken Arrow marching band since 2003. The competition begins at 7 p.m., and tickets cost $20-$40 in advance and increase $5 the day of the show.
Drums of Summer serves as an annual fundraiser for the Pride of Broken Arrow marching band, but band director Darrin Davis said seeing the performers in action exceeds any dollar amount raised.
“This is marching music’s major league, and it inspires our kids to work harder,” Davis said. “I tell them that it’s like having the Dallas Cowboys and the New England Patriots compete. There’s no substitute for that.”
Drum corps differ from traditional marching bands in that they only include brass, percussion and color guard, Davis said.
Competitors this year include the 10-time world champion Cadets drum corps, based out of Pennsylvania. Other corps participating are Blue Knights, Blue Stars, Colts, Crossmen, Jersey Surf, Mandarins, Oregon Crusaders and Pacific Crest.
Musicians and guard members must go through multiple rounds of auditions to join a Drum Corps International group.
The drumming corps perform around the country before competing in Indianapolis in the World Championships World Class Finals in August. Broken Arrow High School’s Memorial Stadium is one stop on this tour.
All performers are 21 or younger and receive no pay for their summer of travel and more than 100 events.
“They give up their summer, their time and pay membership dues. You talk about a kid that’s really committed to what they do,” Davis said. “The payment for these performers is hearing a crowd cheering on their performance.”
Tyler Simmons competed in three different drumming corps through Drum Corps International in college.
Simmons, 23, still remembers some of the traveling hardships.
“Spending three months of my life on the road, sleeping on gym floors and charter buses — it’s really uncomfortable,” said the 2010 Owasso graduate. “What I took away from that is an ability to perform at a really high level in a state of being really tired. I was pushed to the limits.”
He added that the networking and friendships led to opportunities even after he had aged out of competing.
Simmons landed a job working with Broken Arrow bands before being hired as assistant band director in Collinsville Public Schools because of a connection from the drumming corps competitions.
The percussionist said the music in an event like Drums of Summer showcases what makes drum corps distinctive.
“If people think they know marching bands, they certainly don’t know drum corps,” Simmons said. “The music is faster, more intense and dramatic. It’s like nothing they’ve ever seen before.”
Tickets can be ordered by phone at 317-275-1212 until 4 p.m. Monday. After that, tickets can only be purchased at the stadium box office starting at 3 p.m. Tuesday.