Westerville News & Public Opinion

Percussionists hope to drum up a win in Dayton

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The Westerville Indoor Percussion Ensemble will compete in Winter Guard International World Finals in Dayton this weekend.

Winter Guard International, or WGI, is an organization hosting indoor drumline and color guard competitions. When competitive marching band season is over, students turn to WGI and regional organizations to compete in indoor ensembles and continue practicing skills in the off-season.

The 37 students in the Westerville Indoor Percussion Ensemble attend the three city high schools and the middle schools. They will be competing this weekend against ensembles from around the country and the world at the Nutter Center at Wright State University, according to director Jordi Vilanova, who is also band director at Westerville North High School.

He said the group competes in a preliminary round on Thursday and may advance to championships during the weekend.

"We're really excited to be representatives of our great town," Vilanova said. "Hopefully, we will progress past Thursday, but whatever they do, they will put their best foot forward."

The ensemble came in second at the Mid East Performance Association championships. Last year, it placed fourth at WGI world's contest.

"It was our first time making it there ever," Vilanova said. "The year before last was our first time making it to worlds, but we didn't make it past the preliminary."

The Westerville Indoor Percussion Ensemble will compete in a scholastic class against other central Ohio high school ensembles, including Central Crossing High School, Olentangy Liberty High School and Hilliard Bradley High School.

The ensemble's show, entitled "Rewind," is a combination of fast-paced and energized techno music from musicians Ronald Jenkees and Zedd that were made popular on YouTube.

Visually and musically, Vilanova said, the ensemble performs a segment of the music forward, then stops and "rewinds" it by performing everything backward.

"With a show like 'Rewind,' it has to be energetic and a lot of emotion," he said. "These pieces fit the mold very well."

Westerville North senior Keith Feist, a four-year member of the percussion ensemble, said the music is fun and full of features, ranging from legato melodies to aggressive drum section solos.

"It's fun. Lot's of fun," Feist said. "It is techno but with a really groovy sound, and we've incorporated that into our show this year."

Though it is bittersweet that his time with the ensemble is ending, Feist said he is happy to see the group succeed year after year, especially finishing this year at the world finals.

"It feels good. As a senior, it is nice to see how much it has progressed and changed," Feist said. "It is nice to grow up and see the freshmen now and the opportunities they have that I didn't have. It just brings a smile to my face."

Vilanova said participating in the ensemble offers students another avenue for growth.

"Everything we do in school is about students growing up and being wonderful human beings," he said. "It is about doing your best, keeping a positive attitude and great things will happen."

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