news-category: Campus News

Carolina Crown Drum & Bugle Corps Returns to Gardner-Webb on May 16

A group photo of Carolina Crown Members and Sarah Fabian

Elite Performers’ Impact Begins on Campus and Travels to 14 States

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—Since moving to Boiling Springs in 2022, there’s one question Gardner-Webb University Director of Bands Dr. Sarah Fabian expects to be asked in May. Whether she’s walking around her neighborhood or in town, people want to know, “When’s that band getting here?”

Sarah Fabian poses with the drumline
Dr. Sarah Fabian poses with some of Crown’s
percussionists at Gardner-Webb.

As a former member of the group, Fabian knows firsthand the band they are referring to is Carolina Crown Drum & Bugle Corps, a competitive drum corps whose members are age 21 and under. Based out of Fort Mill, S.C., the corps tours the United States every summer performing in Drum Corps International (DCI) competitions. Since 2007, Crown has consistently placed in the world class top six and in 2013 even won the gold medal — and every summer they start with a month of rehearsals at Gardner-Webb University.

This year, Crown will be on campus May 16-June 16. “It’s the talk of the town and something exciting that happens here over the summer,” Fabian affirmed. “It’s a big presence on campus and a benefit to watch their high-level skills and abilities.”

In the 17 years that Carolina Crown has held its pre-tour rehearsals at Gardner-Webb, relationships have been built between the musicians and the community. Gardner-Webb President Dr. William M. Downs praised the partnership, “The energy, the precision, the big bold sound … we love that GWU nurtures something so good each and every summer. And as we continue to build enthusiasm around our own resurgent marching band, it helps to have Crown on our field and on full display. Music with a mission has its home at a University on a mission. Welcome back, Carolina Crown!”

Fabian was introduced to Gardner-Webb in 2009 when she toured with Carolina Crown. Because of her memorable experience on campus, she decided to take the position here. Through Crown, Fabian developed ties to drum corps and has worked as a clinician with many Drum Corps and Winter Guard International groups. Two of the instructors for the Marching Bulldogs are also instructors for Carolina Crown. Fabian said the GWU students will volunteer to help Crown in various ways while they are on campus, and they enjoy watching, listening and learning from the rehearsals.

Photo courtesy of Carolina Crown

Carolina Crown Director Joe Roach also noted the significance of the organization’s ties to Gardner-Webb. “Each year Crown begins its summer experience bringing 165 performers from all around the country to Gardner-Webb for four weeks of spring training in preparation for our national tour,” he shared. “Gardner-Webb is our home away from home. The University and surrounding community are so supportive and welcoming year after year.”

Roach continued, “We are lucky to have a former member of Carolina Crown on faculty at Gardner-Webb. Dr. Sarah Fabian is a great ambassador for the University and continues to be a supportive alumna of the drum corps. Working with her and getting her students involved while we are on campus has been a lot of fun the past couple of years.”

Photo courtesy of Carolina Crown

While Crown’s impact is felt on campus and in town through their music and the fans who come to see them rehearse, the drum corps takes a little part of GWU with them on a tour that stops in 14 states.

“Gardner-Webb means a lot to the alumni, members and staff of Carolina Crown,” Fabian explained. “Many families, friends, fans, and alumni make their way to Gardner-Webb to support Crown during their Preview show in June. There is even a tradition that takes place during Spring training for anybody who is aging out of the corps to buy GWU T-shirts and gear before they leave on their last tour.”

Another aspect of the Crown organization is their work in communities where they perform. Through Crown Cares, members participate in community outreach programs, music education initiatives, collect shoes and socks for Samaritan’s Feet, and distribute books to children in need.

Crown has commissioned world-renowned composer John Mackey to compose an original piece for their show this season. Performers will have the opportunity to engage with Mackey when he visits this summer. Mackey’s creation will later be arranged as concert band literature to be released in the fall, creating a legacy work that will live on long past finals night.

Before they leave on tour, Crown will present CrownLive in Spangler Stadium on June 15. The box office opens at 6 p.m. Gates will open at 6:30 p.m. and warmups begin. The live performance starts at 8 p.m. Performances will include features by individual sections of the Corps as well as the full 2024 production. General admission seating is $20 and tickets are available here.

Photo courtesy of Carolina Crown

About Carolina Crown

Established in 1988, Carolina Crown, Inc. is a 501(c)3 organization whose mission is to “develop lifelong excellence in young people.” Carolina Crown achieves this goal through performance opportunities and a commitment to education in the performing arts with core values of integrity, commitment, respect and excellence. For general information, visit or on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

About Gardner-Webb

Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to nine colleges and schools, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate majors, and a world-class faculty. Located on a beautiful 225-acre campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb prepares graduates to impact their chosen professions, equips them with the skills to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and inspires them to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. Ignite your future at

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