Corps Information
A Corps Is BornYe Wah

In February 1963, Roy Wong, Frank Lim, Thomas Fong, and Yuk Fong discussed the possibility of forming a drum and bugle corps for youth in the Sacramento Chinese community. With the numerous festivities and parades occurring in Sacramento and neighboring locales, the Chinese Community, with all of its traditions and ideals, would be represented with a youth drum and bugle corps to exemplify community interest, civic consciousness, and cultural pride.

One month later, a letter was sent to Sacramento’s Chinese community, requesting support to establish a boys and girls drum and bugle corps. The initial meeting was held on March 23, 1963, at the Sacramento Confucius Church. On that rainy, dreary day, eleven youngsters attended, along with a few parents and others interested in the project. The goals seemed hopeless, but this group went to work regardless, using reconditioned equipment and some instruments furnished by the Chinese Benevolent Association. The $5.85 homemade uniforms featured short-sleeved white shirts, white continental trousers, black shoes, black Chinese hats, and a magenta sash.

By July 1963, the new 47-member Ye Wah Drum and Lyras Corps made their public debut at the Oak Park 4th of July Parade.

Expansion and CompetitionCorps

By August 1964, the Corps had performed in over seventeen parades and official receptions. A Color Guard was added that year, bringing Corps membership to about 75 members. Staff and parents held a successful fundraiser for a new Ye Wah Drum and Bugle Corps, to keep pace with present trends and encourage competition with other drum and bugle corps. By December, the Ye Wah was on its way to becoming the “new Corps on the block.”

Gradually, the Corps improved in quality, and was highly regarded for fine performances. The Color Guard joined the California Color Guard Circuit in 1965 and became a worthy competitor, winning several awards including a Circuit Championship title. The organization’s name was changed to the Mandarins Drum and Bugle Corps in 1967. The corps was well-recognized in local performances, and soon, the Northern California competitive drum and bugle corps activity as well. The Mandarins continued to progress, and in 1970 made their first competition in Southern California.

Awards and RecognitionDisney

Competitors and audiences admire the Mandarins as an example of a successful, disciplined organization. The Mandarins have received extensive media exposure, both locally and nationally. Sacramento City and County government have presented resolutions honoring the Mandarins.

Significant achievements include:

• Drum Corps International World Class Finalist – 2018

• Drum Corps International World Class Semifinalist – 2011-2017

• Drum Corps International World Class Quarterfinalist – 2008-2010

• Drum Corps International Division I Semifinalist – 2001, 2005-06

• Drum Corps International Division II World Champions – 2001

• Drum Corps International Division III World Champions – 1987, 1988, 1992, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999

• Drum Corps International Pacific Division II California State Champions – 2000-01

• Drum Corps International Pacific Division III Champions – 1996-99

• Spirit Of Disney Award for outstanding achievement and excellence in educational and entertainment programs for youth – 1987, 2001

• DCI Hall of Fame – Ray Mar, 2013

• DCI Volunteer of the Year – John Chow, 2015

• DCI Director of the Year – Jim Tabuchi, 2017

Administration

The Mandarins are proud and fortunate to have an all-volunteer Administrative Staff and Board of Directors since inception. These volunteers, along with many parents and supporters have contributed countless hours of service to fundraising, uniform management, food preparation, and other tasks to ensure the continued success of the organization and its many programs.

Notable directors:

1963 - Roy Wong, Yuk Fong: Two founding members of the Ye Wah Drums and Lyras Corps and the Mandarins Drum and Bugle Corps. In addition to director's duties, they were brass and percussion instructors, respectively. Also, Yuk was quartermaster and the corps' cook.

1969 - Warren Tom: Fostered the Mandarins' participation in competitive drum corps. Warren also became a beloved Timing & Penalties adjudicator with the Pacific Coast Judge's Association.

1972 - Helen Owyang, Tom Chinn: Led the first overseas journey to the Republic of China to perform in Taiwan's Presidential Inauguration ceremonies.

1975: Jeff Lee: Coordinated the first out-of-state tour to drum corps competitions and performances in the Pacific Northwest and Canada.

1978 - Joe Chan: Helped the corps make its first appearance at the Drum Corps International Championships in Denver, CO.

1979 - Cory Chew, Joyce Yee: Continued the Mandarins' competitive drum corps involvement while also helping the color guard section become a crowd favorite by introducing graceful, ballet-style elegance to the guard activity.

1983 - Ray Mar, Phyllis Mah, Nanci Jan: Began the Mandarins' transformation into a nationally-recognized drum corps. The corps competed in national summer tours for the first time ever. Ray earned the corps a reputation for consistent quality and excellence as evidenced by the eight Drum Corps International Championship titles won under his leadership. He was inducted into the DCI Hall Of Fame in 2013. Ray was the Mandarins' longest-serving Director at 31 years and is now Director Emeritus and Advisor for the corps.

2010 - Jim Tabuchi: Increased the Mandarins’ visibility, stature, and ties to both the local community and the drum corps arena. Today, the Mandarins are lauded for its programs which, besides the Mandarins Drum and Bugle Corps now include the Mandarins Academy, Mandarins Education, Mandarins Entertainment, and Mandarins Leadership Camp — each offering youth unique music education and performing arts opportunities. Under Jim’s leadership, the Mandarins acquired two semi-trailers — one customized for music instruments, equipment, and uniforms, and the other a mobile kitchen. Jim was appointed Mandarins President and CEO in 2014, DCI Director of the Year in 2017, DCI Board of Directors Member in 2018, and DCI Board Vice Chair in 2019.

2015 - JW Koester: With over 30 years as a drum corps designer, instructor, and consultant, JW’s extensive experience helps corps members perform at their highest level possible. The Mandarins are now fielding a full 154-member drum and bugle corps. Under JW’s leadership, the Mandarins earned its highest placement and score at the DCI World Championship Semifinals in 2017, and in 2018 placed 10th at the DCI World Championship Finals for the first time in the Mandarins’ 55-year history.Funding and PhilosophyTaiko

During its earliest years, the Mandarins raised funds through individual and business donations, candy and bake sales, car washes, dances, Monte Carlo nights, and food festivals. The Chinese Community Center (in Sacramento's Chinatown) provided rent-free space for rehearsals and equipment.

In 1984, the Mandarins began Bingo games as a major fundraiser. Additionally, the organization participates in the annual Big Day of Giving and seeks foundation grants.

Corps

The Mandarins are the only American DCI competitive junior drum and bugle corps with an Asian heritage, and are in the Top 10 of all drum and bugle corps worldwide. 2019 marks their 56th year of providing a wholesome, worthwhile activity for community youth. What makes the Mandarins endure, after so many years? Perhaps it is its philosophy -- that the activity must be fun, as well as rewarding, and that the focus is not merely on winning, but on each member doing their absolute best. Perhaps it is the ideal balance of personal time, education, and drum corps activity. Perhaps it is the blending of Asian traditions with drum corps. Whatever the reasons, the Mandarins have taught thousands of young men and women the values of leadership, discipline, and good citizenship -- values which are carried through school, careers, and back to the community -- with a true sense of purpose.