Fusion is a constant reminder that I love doing this activity for a reason. Even if I've never had much family support behind it, this activity is engraved into my spirit.
My journey into the percussion world started with pen tapping and rap battles in middle school, followed by moving to New Jersey and befriending a flutist who talked me into joining "percussion" after carrying over the pen-tapping craze and spending a lunch period playing a muted concert snare that helped keep her wind trio in time. I didn't even know what percussion meant, and this was halfway through 8th grade. I ended up playing set for their portion of the band concert to the song "Journey".
I've attended 10 schools, including one year at West Chester University where I marched in the 2015 snare line. I'm a major Dragon Ball fan, lover of my afro and the hip-hop culture that's still good, and awaiting my first born child due on March 7th of 2018. You can meet him at championships!
My marching career began at North Bergen High School, where I played both snare and bass drum. While I was there, I met a Fusion vet by the name of Jason, who convinced me and my friend to audition at Fusion. I am now in my 4th year as a member of the bassline and I couldn’t be happier with my experiences at Fusion.
I am currently a student at Montclair State University, where I am studying to become a history teacher. I also teach the basslines for both the marching band and indoor percussion program at Fair Lawn High School. During my free time I hang out with past members I marched with, and we like to watch TV shows and talk about politics. I also enjoy watching anime.
Fusion has changed my life and has created so many opportunities for me to become a better musician, performer, and teacher, while also giving me a newfound appreciation for what family really means.
Sarah Kajian began her marching career with the Pequannock Township High School Marching Band, which she joined her freshman year as a saxophone player. During her sophomore year, she decided to pick up a mellophone and join Fusion. She is now a three year veteran, and has played mellophone every season.
Sarah is currently in her freshman year at Montclair State University. She was also an assistant visual technician with the Fort Lee High School Marching Band this past season. Sarah aspires to become a music educator, and cites Fusion as one of the main motivators in her musical journey.
Tina Douglass joined Fusion Core as a member of the snareline in 2017, and is excited to be returning for the 2018 season! She began playing the snare drum in 2015 with her high school’s indoor percussion group, and has loved it ever since.
Her favorite parts of marching with Fusion are having Jamey Robertson as a tech, and being able to do what she loves with some of her best friends. Tina is currently in her senior year at Garnet Valley High School in Pennsylvania. A couple of fun facts about Tina are that she loves dogs and has perfect pitch.
My name is Ashley Friedrich and I am a 2 year vet of the Fusion Core Colorguard! I loved marching with Fusion for the last two summers and I plan on returning for another exciting season! I first started spinning with Pequannock Township High School in 2012. After I graduated, I marched with Fusion Core and took the winterguard floor with my incredible Fusion Winterguard family last winter in our first trip to WGI World Championships.
When I'm not running around a football field and spinning a flag, I study Political Science at The County College of Morris. My favorite thing about Fusion is the complete dedication from everyone in the core. Every member gives 100% which makes this program so amazing!!!
I grew up in South Brunswick, New Jersey, and I have been playing the trumpet since fourth grade, so I've been playing trumpet for 10 years now. I started my marching career my freshman year at South Brunswick High School, and marched there all four years. I'm currently a 19 year old sophomore music education major on trumpet at West Chester University, and I just completed my second year with the West Chester University Incomparable Golden Rams Marching Band. Aside from marching, I love baseball, singing, listening to music, Netflix, and hanging out with my friends
2017 was my first year ever marching drum corps. I filled a hole at Fusion the first weekend of April, and at the start, I was uncertain whether or not I wanted to stay. After spending one day with the Core and being immediately welcomed into the family, I knew that this was where I wanted to spend my summer. Every rehearsal pushed me to become better not only as a performer, but as a person, and everything that I have learned during my summer at Fusion has made my dreams of marching DCI one day become more of a reality to me. At the end of it all, I left with amazing memories, the greatest friends in the world, and one of the best experiences of my life. Because of my time at Fusion and the people that I got to meet and work with, I have truly been changed for good.
This week's Member Spotlight is Joe Fego, Fusion Core's Color Guard Captain.
Joe has been a member of the Fusion Core Color Guard since 2016. Additionally, he has been a member of Emanon Winter Guard for six seasons and Blessed Sacrament for two. He is currently teaching at Emanon Open for the 2018 winter guard season.
“When I’m not giving my all at Fusion, I work as a Logistics Manager for World Market. I handle inventory control and visual merchandising. I love my job and it’s another place into which I can pour my creativeness and leadership skills. It’s cool because I can see where things I’ve learned at my job get applied to Fusion and vice versa.
Fusion without a doubt means family to me. It’s not just a bland mantra here, but something every member learns to embody throughout the season, we can laugh, argue, cry, joke, dedicate ourselves, work hard, sweat, bleed, and ultimately live our passions together. It’s the best feeling in the world.”
This week's Member Spotlight is on Chelsea Burdick, Cymbal Player with Fusion Core.
Chelsea is a 21 year old from Binghamton, New York. She is currently a senior at SUNY Oneonta for Fashion Merchandising. She was a member of the cymbal line from 2014 to 2017 and the section leader from 2015 to 2017. Chelsea has been involved in music from a young age ranging from flute to vocal music and being new to percussion in 2014.
“Ever since I joined Fusion, i found my home instantly. Coming into it, i was nervous, but it was something I wanted to do for a while. The amount of growth, bonds, friendships, and education I have received has changed my life and has made me be the best version of me. I am ethereally grateful." Chelsea is planning on going out for her ageout for DCI, and is excited for her 2018 Summer Season.
Jazmine, 21, grew up in Rahway, NJ where she started her music career at the age of 7 playing violin and flute. During her years in Rahway, she discovered her passion for music and performance playing primarily woodwinds, strings, and percussion. Throughout her four years in high school, she served as woodwind section leader and Drum Major for two years, graduating in 2015. Two years later, Jazmine joined Fusion Core on a whim after years of being approached by longtime Fusion member, Nafis Harris.
“At first, I️ wasn’t sure about joining Fusion until Nafis told me to come to a rehearsal one weekend. He made sure that I️ knew it was okay that I️ didn’t have much experience playing a brass instrument. I remember requesting off from work that week just so I️ could check it out.
Joining a world class drum corps can be pretty intimidating for most people. Fusion made that feeling go away pretty quickly after I️ joined. There are so many people here who are so willing to make you feel welcomed and want to you to grow as both a performer and individual.
My advice for anyone that may be on the fence and thinking about joining Fusion or drum corps is to go out to a camp or rehearsal and just give it a chance. You won’t ever really know unless you feel it out yourself. It might be uncomfortable or scary at first, but just give it a shot and see what happens. It’s an amazing thing to see so many people working together and wanting to create something greater than themselves. That’s what Fusion Core is about and there is no doubt in my mind that I️ have been changed for good.”
2017 was Emiri’s first year marching with a DCA corps. Coming from a background of only marching in high school marching band, she did not know what to expect at a higher level in a serious organization. In the end, not only did Emiri leave with a great experience and memories, but she also left with the connections that she made with her fellow members.
The Bari Babes are the people that she bonded with the most. Most of her greatest memories throughout the season were made with Rawdah, Jenna, and Jazmine, and she couldn't imagine being in a baritone line without them. The Bari Babes would be there for each other at their highs and lows to support one another in every way possible. She is very grateful to have been able to work long and hard through the season with these girls and is happy that their bond exists even after the season ended.
Emiri is currently a sophomore music education major with a concentration on trombone at Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. At Fusion Emiri played the baritone and was the baritone soloist.
Jenna is currently a senior in high school, and is planning on attending college next fall. When she is not doing drum corps, Jenna enjoys playing the viola, which is her primary instrument. Jenna’s background did not include any marching or formal brass experience. Her season with Fusion was her first marching experience ever. Going into it, she was hesitant. She can now confidently say that Fusion has taught her many important lessons, established marching and playing fundamentals, made her a more confident person, and gave her some of her greatest friendships.
“As the only female members of the baritone/euphonium line, the Bari Babes bonded right away. Doing drum corps is a challenging experience in all aspects, and can easily become overwhelming. In having those girls by my side through all of it, my season was greatly improved. Our bond after working hard toward a common goal all season is incredible. These friendships never could have been achieved outside of an activity like drum corps. What's even better is that even though I live in New York, and Emiri, Rawdah, and Jaz live in different parts of New Jersey, we all make the time for each other and our friendships continue to exist outside of Fusion. I am confident that we will be friends always, because they have changed me ‘for good.’”
Rawdah, an English Education major at Montclair State University, played baritone for Fusion Core in 2017. Her primary instrument is clarinet, and Fusion was her first formal brass instruction and first drum corps marching experience.
“The Bari Babes were undeniably a huge part of my drum corps experience with Fusion Core. I have never been so close with a group of girls before, and through drum corps, we bonded and helped each other overcome difficulties in our personal lives, and our marching ones. Although so far apart, we always find ways to talk to each other almost every day, keeping our inseparable connexion intact (pun intended). I will never forget the amazing memories I’ve had with these girls—from struggling in horn arc, to ugly crying and screaming Beyoncé lyrics, to watching The Office—The Bari Babes is a group I will never forget, as they helped me flourish and grow as a person; because of them, I have truly been changed for good.”
This week's Member Spotlight is on Christian "Chris" Riccardi, Baritone Player with Fusion Core.
Christian is a 19 year old brass player Woodland Park, NJ who had finished his fourth year with us this past summer. Christian currently studies at Milwaukee School of Engineering in Milwaukee for Architectural Engineering.
Chris’s music career originally started as a percussionist, marching his first year with Fusion on the Cymbal Line in 2014. He switched over the next year to Euphonium and has been a brass player ever since. Currently, he is planning to audition for Blue Stars for the upcoming summer, hoping to march once again on euphonium. Fusion has been a second home to him, even marching alongside his father John Riccardi in the 2015 and 2016 seasons. “Although I’m quite rambunctious at times, my love for Fusion over the past few years has highly influenced my life, truly becoming a defining point of who I am. I really have been changed for good”.
In his free time, Christian enjoys singing, playing video games, watching The Office, and anime. We hope to see him on the field this next year in DCI, and wish him luck in all future endeavors. #BMO
This week's Member Spotlight is on Taylor Conrad, Trumpet Player with Fusion Core.
"My name is Taylor Conrad. I’ve been playing trumpet since I was a kid and always dreamed of being in drum corps. 2018 will be my 4th year with fusion core! This will be my fifth year in drum corps. I marched my first year in Windsor Regiment.
When I'm not doing drum corps, I’m a manager throughout the week at Pizza Hut and an active volunteer firefighter at Wilmington Manor. I’m also attending school as much as I can as a criminal justice major. On the weekends I go home to my Purple family and spend time and make life long memories and friends.
Fusion has been my home and my adopted family. There’s not a place I’d rather be then wearing purple with my family. We’ve had our ups and downs but in some crazy sense we’re all connected together as one family. I love my doing my part as a member, helping bring fun, entertaining and challenging shows to life. I look forward to many more years with Fusion.
I feel that our Director, Holly Marino, is a great leader and a wonderful friend. She’s been there for me more times then I can count and she’ll always have a special place in my heart. Fusion is in my blood and I will forever bleed purple and black. I have been changed for good because of Fusion Core!"
This week's Member Spotlight is on Ben Morgan, Trumpet Player with Fusion Core.
"2017 was my 4th year marching Fusion Core and it has impacted my life in many ways. I’ve been around drum corps since I was 3 years old and had always wanted to march. Fusion has made me successful in music. I recently marched in the U.S. Army All American Marching Band where I got to perform in front of thousands of people in San Antonio.
I plan on attending college and majoring in Music Performance. I have recently started teaching as well. I teach the Brass line at 20th Century Limited Drum Corps and it has given me a great experience as a teacher and a musician.
Fusion is the perfect place for me because I connect so well with everyone and learn so much. Last season was incredible and I made so many amazing memories! I plan on auditioning for Blue Stars and Boston Crusaders in 2018, but if it doesn't work out I'll be back at Fusion."
Brett is a 22 year old from York, PA and this will be his third season with the Core. Currently Brett attends Harrisburg Area Community College in Harrisburg (obviously) for Music Industry, hoping to get a bachelor’s degree at a higher institute. The instruments in his repertoire are the baritone/euphonium, trombone, trumpet, French horn, guitar, bass, piano and multiple percussion instruments, as well as a singer and actor, all rolled into one.
Brett has been marching on the baritone since 2010, since 9th grade. His first taste of drum corps was with Cadets2 back in 2015 and 2016, with some world class experience with the Jersey Surf World Class Corps, but stepping aside for multiple reasons.
This past season Brett came in to fill a hole in the baritone line, and was immediately hooked from day one. In his spare time, Brett likes to mainly spend time with his friends, playing video games, acting, playing music and just relaxing at home. His goal for the season and for people coming in as a first time auditionee is to stay calm and give everything you have and leave it all out on the field. It’s going to be an awesome season! #ihbcfg