By JOHN KLINE
THE GOSHEN NEWS
GOSHEN — After more than 10 years of musical ingenuity, the Goshen High School Crimson Percussion Ensemble has turned out yet another cheer-worthy performance, this time with a fifth place finish at the WGI World Championships in Dayton, Ohio.
Now it its 11th year, the GHS Percussion Ensemble is made up of 35 student musicians from both Goshen High School and Goshen Middle School with a primary focus on percussion instrumentation.
While the World Championships are not necessarily new for the ensemble — this is the 10th year it has competed in the championships — this year the group decided to shake things up, literally, by transitioning from a traditional “concert” style to a new and more technically challenging “movement” style.
“The main difference from years past is we used to be a stand-still percussion ensemble, which was called Concert Class, and that’s where you stand still and play really well,” said Tom Cox, director of bands for Goshen High School. “Then, at the end of last year, the school hired Derrick Shannon to be the ensemble’s new leader, and he said he’d really like to try a movement group. So basically it’s all percussion, and they have a tarp like the Winter Guard does, and they do drill, and just play really great music.”
Held on the campus of the University of Dayton, this year’s competition ran from April 18 to April 19 and featured more than 60 different schools in the Class A division.
“It’s an amazing event, really,” Cox said. “There are groups from literally every part of the country: California, Florida, New York and every place in between. This year there were actually groups from Japan and Thailand, and I believe Great Britain.”
Traditionally competing on the national level at what’s known as “World Class” — the highest of the competition’s three classes: Class A, Open Class and World Class — Cox said he decided to enter the group as Class A this year due to the recent change to the group’s performance style.
“You’re put in a specific class by skill sets, which is basically the difficulty of what you’re asking your students to do,” Cox said. “Since this was our first year to go as a movement group, we decided to go as Class A. But in years past when we’ve competed as a concert group, we were actually World Class, the highest and most difficult level of music.”
Now that the competition has come and go, Cox said he and the group are still reeling from their impressive fifth place finish.
“That Friday night, when we found out we’d placed fifth, I mean, we’d gone in not even knowing if we would make semifinals,” Cox said with a laugh. “In Indiana we were runner-up in the state competition. But in the world competition we were the only Indiana group to make the finals. So we actually ended up beating the state champs from Decatur Central out of Indy.”
While placing well is always a great feeling, Cox said the real goal of attending the world championships is the exposure the students get to some of the best judges and musicians in the nation.
“One reason is of course to compete on a national stage, but probably the biggest reason is the fact that the judges at the world championships are like the Michael Jordan of judges in this area of competition,” Cox said. “They’re the who’s who of judges, basically. So for us, the judging you get is the reason you go, because you’re getting comments from the best percussionists in the county, and that’s the kind of feedback we want for our students.”