“Sport of the Arts” ensembles to go to WGI Championships

by Kaden Silva

The Bellbrook Band Program winter groups of Indoor Percussion Ensemble (IPE) and Winterguard are set to finish their seasons at the WGI Championships, which are slated for April 13-15 for the Winterguard and April 20-22 for IPE.

Following the end of the marching band season, each performance ensemble begins rehearsing their program. Both utilize audio and visual elements and equipment in order to tell stories in the form of a show, with IPE generally being more focused on music and rhythmic elements of a performance while the Winterguard focus on dance, flag, and rifle spinning.

The IPE’s 2023 program is “Forbidden Forest,” featuring a forest motif and selections such from Edvard Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King.” The Winterguard’s 2023 program is “Both Sides,” which is a show that commentates on aging and life experiences using music from Joni Mitchell’s song “Both Sides Now.”

Senior Mason Kozee acts out the forbidden forest motif in the battery of IPE.

The IPE has been having a phenomenal season, after a slow start. “After the win at the regional [WGI Dayton Regional Competition], we actually got bumped to a higher class, competing against better groups,” senior Connor Flanagan, a member of the cymbal line, said. “We’re really excited about being in Open class.”

Cymbals are the position in the battery, the marchers for the ensemble, responsible for visual effects as well as playing split parts to make a composite cymbal sound in the drumline.

“The first few competitions were a little lackluster because of some missing people, ending with us getting a lot of second and third [placements],” Flanagan said.

However, as the season progressed, the ensemble became increasingly comfortable with the show. “Early in the season, I think everyone saw the show as generic and kind of vague,” sophomore Oliver Alban, lead synthesizer player, said. “But as the season’s gone on I think everyone in the ensemble will say it’s their favorite show. This year’s group is far more energetic than last year’s, allowing us to achieve new heights.” 

Sophomore Bella Aiello sweeps her flag mid-jump during this year’s Winterguard Show “Both Sides.”

The Bellbrook Winterguard is an World class ensemble that has performed well on a national level, having already taken multiple championship titles home. They are coached by Sheldon Apo and various staff.

Winterguard is different from IPE because the performers all use flags and “weapons,” which are made up of mockups of sabers and rifles. They perform a pre-programmed show involving gymnastic techniques, flag and weapon tosses, and a show theme and song that contribute to the narrative established by the performers.

Senior Elena Aguila, a five-year veteran of the guard and a soloist, loves this year’s show. “I think the ensemble’s performance was engaging and came from the heart,” Aguila said. “This group is very close and we spend more time together than [with] our families, so [in] performing this show we interact with each other and give the audience the energy that we want in return.” 

“We interpret the music through our movements, performance and our equipment phrases,” Aguila said. “The entire group interprets this show in a different way. This makes it more enjoyable to watch by witnessing someone give their own version.”

The indoor ensembles are no stranger to long rehearsal hours and strenuous schedules. “To get where we are this year took a lot of work from everyone in the ensemble, including the staff,” Flanagan said. “I don’t think we would’ve been able to get where we are without these new people and the new ideas they brought to the ensemble.”

Aguila described a similar creative process for the Winterguard. “We spent roughly 10-20 hours a week and up to 4-6 days a week in practice,” Aguila said. “This guard is made up of hard-working individuals that have made this season successful and amazing.”


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