Winter Percussion, now in highest division, preps for World Championship in Dayton, Ohio 

March 30, 2024 — by Anthony Luo
Courtesy of Isabelle Gecils
Sophomore Beni Mercurio performs his show choreography at the SHS Electives night on Jan. 29.

The school’s World ensemble performed their show “Facade” at the WGI West Percussion Power Regional on March 23-24 in Fullerton.

As a judge signaled them to start, members of the school’s winter percussion World ensemble set up their instruments and props in the Titan Gym in Fullerton on March 24. They had performed in the same place the day before and made it to the finals round of the Winter Guard International (WGI) West Power Regional.

This performance, which earned them 7th place out of nine schools, was a precursor for a trip the 37-member group will be taking from April 13-20, where they will fly to Dayton, Ohio, to perform at the WGI World Championships at the University of Dayton Arena. 

These showings mark a historic year for the program, as it is the first time in history they are competing in the highest division, Percussion Scholastic World (PSW), and the second time ever that they travel to Dayton for the World Championships. Winter percussion previously attended in 2015 in the Percussion Scholastic Open (PSO) division.

“Whenever you see videos of drumlines online, they’re always performing at Dayton,” junior quad drummer Tanuj Siripurapu said. “So it’s a cool experience to be able to play and compete alongside them and make a name for ourselves.”

Earlier this season, the group, led by directors Sean Clark (who is in charge of the battery percussionists) and Chavadith Tantavirojn (who leads the front ensemble or keyboard percussionists), performed in two local preview shows and three competitions as a part of their local circuit, the Northern California Percussion Alliance (NCPA).

Clark and Tantavirojn decided to move the ensemble up to the PSW division after they dominated the PSO division last year. They won first place in every single NCPA competition they attended in the PSO division, including the championship, earning historically high scores along the way.

So far this season, despite facing stiffer competition in the PSW division, the ensemble has continued its winning streak with a 1st place win at Fremont High School on Feb. 10 and 2nd place finish at American Canyon High School on March 2. (Due to printing deadlines, the Falcon was unable to cover their third NCPA show, which occurred on March 30 at James Logan High School.)

The show itself tackles themes that the members can relate to as high school students, Clark said. This year’s show, “Facade,” deals with discovering one’s identity behind the masks one wears throughout life. 

Clark and show designer KK Rasmussen used this theme as inspiration for how to design the other elements of the show, including costumes, props and the floor.

“When you think of a facade, you think of something that is meant to conceal,” Clark said. “We took that idea and thought about how it applies to specific shapes, colors or patterns.”

The show floor is filled with bright, neon colors meant to appear artificial. Six large props, shaped like triangular prisms, rest on top of the floor and move around on rotatable bases throughout the show. 

Each member’s costume is also filled with harsh edges and contrasting colors as if concealing something, and the members wear LED masks that switch between different designs. Most of the musical [jump] and visual elements of the show are designed by the staff themselves and are specifically tailored to each member’s strengths.

Musically and visually, the show is divided into three parts, titled “Face/Mask,” “Mirror” and “Glitch,” with each exploring different stages in the search for identity. The first movement, “Face/Mask,” deals with hiding one’s face and introduces the concept of the masks worn throughout one’s life. Throughout the movement, each section within the ensemble receives its own small musical features.

“We’ve seen tons of growth with the students so you’ll see a lot of individual sections showcased, more so compared to past years,” Clark said. “Different elements weave in and out, and with such a strong group we can bring out unique sounds and perform something more nuanced.”

For the second movement, “Mirror,” Clark and the rest of the electronics team — including Tantavirojn, Gabriel Boquiren, Sean Chen and AJ Gonzales — collaborated with artist Skyler Stahlmann to use lyrics from her song “Facade” as background audio throughout the movement. Visually, props rotate to reveal mirrors, and members of the ensemble are able to “see themselves” for the first time. Through their choreography, they confront their identities and try to discover who they are behind the mask. 

The second movement is followed by a drumset solo by sophomore Raymond Zheng, which transitions into the third movement, “Glitch,” set to David O’Dowda’s song “People We Don’t Know.” 

The show finishes with senior snare drummer Grant Hough performing a solo that concludes with him taking off his mask and staring into a mirror. According to Clark, the ending is meant to show that masks themselves are the only honest thing we display in our life, and the only facade is thinking that we know ourselves and those around us.

“As far as winter percussion shows go, a lot of them end up being cheesy or not diving deep into anything,” Siripurapu said. “Our theme is a lot more intriguing and leaves you with something to think about after the show is over.”

Siripurapu finds that the ensemble’s achievements come as a result of hard work put in by both the students and staff, as they usually rehearse for more than 10 hours per week after school.

 “Rehearsals are pretty crazy this year — 5:30 to 9 p.m., three days a week, and it’s pretty hard balancing my workload with that,” Siripurapu said. “But after going to a few competitions and seeing our results, I think they’re paying off.”

WP World Roster

Battery:

Snares: Rishi Vaidya (12), Grant Hough (12), Logan Gecils (11), Jason Teeple (11)

Basses: Rohan Gopal (10), Aiden Jang (10), Diya Iyer (11), Ruhan Periyacheri (11), Meera Minocha (9)

Quads: Tanuj Siripurapu (11), Jeremy Huang (10)

Toms: Beni Mercurio (10), Anshuman Sen (9), Conrad Adler (9)

Visual Ensemble: Matthew Liu (10), Linda Shi (10), Sophie Qin (10), Clarice Lee (10), Vida Heidari (10), Yassna Rastegar Panah (9)

Front Ensemble:

Marimba: Andrew Tran (12), Anais Sobrier (12), Anya Wai (12), Alicia Nguyen (12), Kevin Yu (10), Joanne Zhang (10)

Vibraphone: Madison Saville (11), Oliver Su (10), Naomi Yang (10), Anthony Luo (10), Tanvee Tirapurtha (9)

Glockenspiel: Jordan Lai (9)

Xylophone: Masha Sotoodehniakorani (10)

Drumset: Raymond Zheng (10)

Auxiliary: Marco Rocabado (10)Synths: Daniel Yu (10), Tiffany Sun (10)

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