Markella Paradissis-Wagner – Mustangs Ahead

(LAKEWOOD RANCH, FL)-Four LRHS musicians flew to Dallas, Texas for the weekend on Jan. 19 for auditions with the Troopers Drum and Bugle Corps. Senior trumpetists Markella Paradissis-Wagner and Michelle Matheson, and sophomore trumpetist Mattew Shelton received contracts for the 2018 season. Freshman tuba player Gianna Hagopian was offered a callback on the baritone.

Matheson said, “I’m super excited to march with Troopers this summer. It’s a huge honor and one of my biggest accomplishments as a musician. I can’t wait to meet new people and travel the country doing what I love.”

The Troopers are a world-class competitive drum and bugle corps based in Casper, Wyoming. They are one of the 13 founding members of Drum Corps International (DCI) and one of the first drum corps in history to win a National Championship with women on the field playing instruments. DCI can be equated to a professional basketball team, according to LRHS Band Director and Boston Crusaders Assistant Creative Director Ron Lambert.

Lambert said, “I don’t teach just so that my students go on and become musicians. I just want them to be great at whatever they end up doing. I have students that are veterinarians, students that are in the military, and so many of them come back and say, ‘If I wasn’t in band, I wouldn’t have been the top of my class in college’ or ‘I wouldn’t have gotten that promotion at my job.’ So, really, band for me is an opportunity to teach excellence.”

The LRHS Band Program is revered for cultivating hard work and confidence in its students, which is demonstrated not only through the students’ talent but also, as Lambert says, in whatever they end up doing in life.

Hagopian, who originally auditioned on the tuba and was instead offered the chance to play baritone, said, “Going to the Troopers camp was an amazing experience and I definitely learned a lot. After my audition I was switched from tuba to baritone and received a callback to audition again on baritone. It’s definitely an experience being so young and competing with adults.”

The students will be sleeping on buses and gyms, spending 8-12 hours a day rehearsing to make their show the best it can be and performing at competitions. World-class corps tour all summer and open class corps tour for half of the summer.

Until the summer starts, the corps holds monthly camps where auditions and rehearsals are held. In May, the corps will stay in Indiana, practicing for four weeks, 10-14 hours a day, before the summer tour starts. All four students are returning to Texas for the February camp.

Shelton said, “I’m excited for the summer. It looks fun and I had fun this weekend.”

The Troopers are known for providing members with a positive experience, excellent education, and skills that last a lifetime.

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