Corps Information
History - "The Beginning"Ye Wah

In February 1963, Roy Wong, Frank Lim, Thomas Fong, and Yuk Fong met to discuss the possibility of forming a drum and bugle corps for youth. One month later, a letter was sent to the Sacramento Chinese Community, asking for support to establish a boys and girls drum and bugle corps. With the numerous festivities and parades taking place annually in Sacramento and neighboring locales, certainly the Chinese Community, with all of its native traditions and color, could exhibit representation which it could claim as its own. A youth drum and bugle corps would be a wonderful symbol of community interest, civic consciousness, and cultural pride.

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 anyway, using reconditioned equipment and some instruments furnished by the Chinese Benevolent Association. Uniforms cost $5.85 each, and were 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 was ready for its first performance, 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 fund-raiser 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, beginning competition with other units throughout the state. They became a worthy competitor, winning a Circuit Championship and numerous other awards. The organization's name was changed to the Mandarins Drum and Bugle Corps in 1967. By now, the Corps was well-recognized in community performances, and began to make itself known in drum and bugle competitions. The Mandarins continued to progress, performing in events throughout Northern California, and gave their first Southern California performance in 1970.

Awards and RecognitionDisney

Competitors and audiences admire the Mandarins, which have been featured in numerous newspaper and television spots. Other units point to the Mandarins as an example of a successful, well-run organization which have been finalists in countless competitions, and has won numerous first place awards, including Drum Corps International Division III World Champions in 1987, 1988, 1992, 1996, 1997, 1998, and 1999; Drum Corps International Division II World Champions in 2001; Drum Corps International Pacific Division III Champions in 1996, 1997, 1998, and 1999, and DCI Pacific Division II California State Champions in 2000 and 2001; Drum Corps International Division I Semifinalist in 2001, 2005, and 2006; Drum Corps International World Class Quarterfinalist in 2008-2010; Drum Corps International World Class Semifinalist in 2011-2017; and Drum Corps International World Class Finalist in 2018. Additionally, the Mandarins are two-time recipients of the prestigious Spirit of Disney Award, signifying outstanding achievement and excellence in educational and entertainment programs for youth.


The Mandarins are proud and fortunate to have an all-volunteer administrative staff / board of directors since inception. These volunteers have contributed tens of thousands of hours of service -- everything from fundraising to uniform management to food preparation for our corps members, and much more. Notable directors include:

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 Executive Director in 2014 and in 2017, he was honored with the DCI Director of the Year award.

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 150-member drum and bugle corps. During the 2017 season, the corps scored its highest-ever placement and score at the DCI World Championships. In 2018, the corps placed 10th Place at the DCI World Championship Finals, for the first time in the Mandarins' 55-year history.Funding and PhilosophyTaiko

Since its inception, the Mandarins have been sponsored by an all-volunteer Booster Club of parents and supporters. In the early years, operating funds were raised through a combination of candy and bake sales, car washes, Monte Carlo nights, and food festivals. In 1984, the Mandarins began Bingo games, which have helped the Mandarins achieve the success enjoyed today. As a youth program, the drum and bugle corps activity places second only to the national Scouting program.


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.