A young Tewksbury musician will be hitting the road soon, trumpeting her way across the country as part of the elite Spartan’s drum corps. Megan Cunningham, a Tewksbury Memorial High rising junior and trumpet player, auditioned and was recently accepted into the Spartans Drum and Bugle Corps based in Nashua, New Hampshire. Residents will be familiar with Cunningham from her performances with the TMHS marching unit and town ceremony appearances. She is active in math team, concert band, and the Affinity Winter Guard. Cunningham saw a video of the Spartan’s during a music class one day and was hooked. “I knew immediately it was something I wanted to do” she said. After attending a rehearsal and watching the band live, she knew it was for her. “There is just a short window of time when you can be a part of a marching unit” she said, noting that she is considering marching band programs during her college search as well. Cunningham has been playing the trumpet since fifth grade.
The group, which is described as a performing arts organization for young people, has been in existence since 1955. The Spartan’s are part of Drum Corps International and compete in the Open Class category, which has three competitive classes: World Class, which is primarily college age students; Open Class which is generally made up of both high school and some college-age students, and International Class, which is comprised of corps from outside North America. The Spartans have traditionally placed very high in their divisions, with several first place honors and gold medals to their credit. Spartans Drum & Bugle Corp’s marching unit consisting of brass instruments, percussion instruments, and a color guard. The color guard uses sabers, rifles, and swing flags, as well as a mix of ballet, jazz, modern, and contemporary modern dance in its performance. According to a recent press release, there are 130 members of the corps this summer, including some from outside of New England. DCI accepts high school and college students ages 15 to 22. While many of the members participate in their school’s marching band or other ensemble, it is not a prerequisite.
Cunningham’s experience so far has been very positive. “It’s a welcoming community” she said, “and everyone recognizes the commitment, respect and teamwork required”. After a few weeks of intense rehearsal, the Spartan’s will hit the road, staying in gymnasiums and traveling on buses. Their route takes them through New England and New York, criss crosses the mid section of the country as they compete against other teams from around the nation in shows during the summer. Stops include Iowa, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Minnesota, to name a few. The tour culminates with a finals competition at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana, home of the Indianapolis Colts.
The Spartan’s have a show at St. Anselm College in Manchester on July 20th, and it is the first DCI appearance in New Hampshire in ten years. This is a traveling operation, and Cunningham, who has already begun practices on weekends, will be gone the entire summer. “This is an incredible opportunity to grow as a musician and as a person” she said. For more information about the Spartans, or to get tickets to catch Megan Cunningham and the Spartans in a performance locally, visit www.spartansdbc.org