2019 WGI Winners

2019 WGI Winners
Many of this year’s WGI winners explored thoughtful topics including fostering relationships, resolving conflicts, taking risks, and pursuing passions.
World Class
2019 WGI World Class Winners

Guard Independent World

Pride of Cincinnati
Score of 98.250
Director: Pride Youth Development Foundation

Another Door Opens: The door flew wide open for Pride of Cincinnati to achieve its seventh WGI championship with a score of 98.250. The show included 56 colorfully distressed doors opening from various vertical, horizontal, and angled planes on large props that were methodically rearranged. At the start of the show, all but one performer was hidden. As the show progressed, performers often entered doors at one location of the floor and exited somewhere else, showcasing how adventure awaits when least expected. Fast-paced electronic music by Son Lux facilitated constant motion through equipment sequences. Pride of Cincinnati scored more than two points higher than second-place Paramount from Atlanta with a score of 96.150 and third-place Diamante from Anaheim, California, with a score of 96.100.

Guard Scholastic World

Avon (Indiana) HS
Score of 98.950
Director: Daniel Wiles

O’ Night Divine: Acting out the lyrics of the song “Mr. Tanner” by Harry Chapin, Avon High School’s guard told the tale of a Dayton-based launderer who loved singing but was unable to turn his passion into his livelihood. A carousel garment rack from which performers threw out equipment, several smaller shirt racks, and long tables set the stage. The featured soloist showcased his skills on rifle, including spinning two at a time, staying on the equipment during the main flag sequence, and catching his own toss while jumping over the table for the finale. Indiana groups swept the top three: Avon scored 98.950, more than two points above second-place Carmel High School, scoring 96.100, and third-place Center Grove High School in Greenwood, scoring 95.850.

Percussion Independent World

Broken City from Lake Elsinore, California
Score of 98.850
Directors: Mike Jackson, Kevin Shah, and Sean Cunningham

Cede: Formerly known as OCI founded in 2013, Broken City has quickly climbed the WGI ranks from third in 2017 to second in 2018 to first in 2019. The group set a class record with its score of 98.850 this year. Its program showed different factions at odds. Street lights, bird cages, and a music box were included as props to illuminate the scenes. Beginning and ending only with bass drummers, the conclusion revealed white backdrops to symbolize surrender.  The ensemble performed original content by Kevin Shah and Mike Jackson as well as “Let You Win” and “Where to Begin,” both by Adam Watts. Pulse Percussion from Westminster, California, achieved a score of 97.600 for second place while Music City Mystique from Nashville placed third with a score of 97.513.

Percussion Scholastic World

Chino Hills (California) HS
Score of 97.975
Directors: John Mapes and Ian Grom

The Vine Wound Tight: The Chino Hills High School Indoor Percussion, scoring 97.975, achieved its sixth gold medal (third in a row) with a show depicting the demons of addiction. At the start of the show, the central figure in a disheveled shirt and tie was found hunched over his desk hugging a green elixir while battery members crawled up the tarp to torment him. Green vines on the uniforms and hanging from the moving walls depicted the difficulties of breaking free. The ensemble performed “Forty Screams” by Son Lux and “Lovely” by Billie Eilish to depict the emotions of the story. Arcadia (California) High School finished in second place with a score of 97.338 while

Avon (Indiana) High School captured third place with a score of 95.163.

Winds Independent World

Rhythm X from Dayton, Ohio
Score of 96.600
Directors: Steve Mason and Tim Fairbanks

A Day in the Life: Rhythm X’s Beatles-themed show centered on the concept of peace and that “love is all you need.” Performing six different Beatles songs including the title piece, “Eleanor Rigby,” and “Strawberry Fields Forever,” the musicians wore magenta Sgt. Pepper-inspired uniforms. The show’s first minute intentionally lacked an accompaniment track while other parts of the performance used vintage sound libraries to weave in authentic Beatles sounds. Rhythm X won this class for four out of five years. Its score of 96.600 surpassed second-place STRYKE Wynds from Palm Beach, Florida, with a score of 93.025, and third-place UTRGV Winds from Edinburg, Texas, with a score of 92.300.

Winds Scholastic World

Cleveland Arts Performance Ensemble from Clayton, North Carolina
Score of 95.000
Director: Jason Heard

Joker: Playing a supervillain was no laughing matter for the Cleveland Arts Performance Ensemble, which won its first Winds Scholastic World championship with a score of 95.000. The group, which had previously won Scholastic Open in 2016, explored the personality of Batman’s nemesis, The Joker, through different eras as portrayed by Cesar Romero in 1966, Jack Nicholson in 1989, and Heath Ledger in 2008. Musical selections comprised “Desi” by Michael Daugherty, “Smooth Criminal” by Michael Jackson, and original music by Andrew Markworth. Flanagan High School from Pembroke Pines, Florida, scored 94.350 for second place while Mililani (Hawaii) High School scored 92.975 for third place.

Open Class

2019 WGI Open Class Winners

Guard Independent Open

George Mason University from Fairfax, Virginia
Score of 99.000
Director: Lindell Palmer

 The Journey Back: With a nearly perfect score of 99.000, this year’s show by George Mason served as an ode to its past programs as well as explored the concept of how memories—both good and bad—transform each individual. As part of the creative process, members gave ideas based on their own memories. The song “Nocturne in A Minor” by Chad Lawson created a nostalgic musical backdrop. The tarp consisted of five blue and purple rectangles with a spiral overlay that members used to create a sense of moving around in time. Partner work and weight sharing with equipment added to the suspense. Paramount Open Winterguard from Atlanta placed second with a score of 97.450 while Sensation Performance Ensemble from Flevoland, The Netherlands, finished in third place with a score of 95.600.

Guard Scholastic Open

Fishers (Indiana) HS
Score of 97.550
Director: Kylee Hubbard

A Self-Evident Truth: While honoring the dreams of four American visionaries—Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., and Robert Kennedy—the Fishers High School guard program celebrated its own accomplishment of first place with a score of 97.550. Performing to an acoustic version of Rosaleen Eastman’s song “Abraham, Martin, John, and Bobby” overlaid with snippets of speeches from each orator, the members used the rhythm of the words without a steady beat or melody to hold them together. The tarp and backdrop showcased the leaders’ fight to end inequality while flags were raised to half-mast one at a time on four 20-foot flag poles to mark their tragic deaths. Arvin (California) High School achieved second place with a score of 96.250 while Dripping Springs (Texas) High School finished close behind with a score of 96.100 for third place.

Percussion Independent Open

Bakersfield (California) College
Score of 96.725
Directors: Tim Heasley and Efren Gutierrez

For Man We Wait …: Telling a prequel to Adam and Eve, Bakersfield College looked at the story from the snake’s perspective as it prepared to deceive woman and man. With original compositions by Ezekiel Lanser, the music set the mood through ambient sounds including the use of seed rattles and udu drum samples to create animalistic and jungle qualities. A tree and glowing red orb symbolized the apple tree in the Garden of Eden. The battery incorporated fast-paced movement including many quick turns. Bakersfield scored 96.725 while second-place Matrix Open from Akron, Ohio, had a score of 96.138, and third-place Spirit Winter Percussion from Orleans, Massachusetts, finished with a score of 95.638.

Percussion Scholastic Open

Sparkman HS from Harvest, Alabama
Score of 96.200
Director: Jack Albert

For Now I Am Winter: With a flurry of movement, Sparkman’s program showed the journey of struggling through the bitter, harsh aspects of winter to finding the splendor and beauty of the season. The ensemble created sharp, icy sounds using pitched metal pipes, bows, and unique implements on the battery instruments. The snowy landscape was brought to life with a large glacier and 14 icicles that lit up as well as the performers’ facial makeup and white wigs. Playing the show’s title piece by Ólafar Arnalds, “Firefly” by Nathan Daughtrey, and “A Kaleidoscope of Mathematics” by James Horner, Sparkman achieved first place with a score of 96.200. Clear Brook High School from Friendswood, Texas, finished in a close second place with a score of 96.050 while Norwalk (Connecticut) High School landed in third place with a score of 95.100.

Winds Independent Open

Chromium Winds from Rosemont, Illinois
Score of 93.150
Director: Andrew Zweibel

Left to Right: Debuting in 2017, Chromium Winds achieved its third Winds Independent Open championship with a score of 93.150. Its 2019 show explored the dichotomies of left and right through the split costume, gradient tarp, and musical/visual presentation. At one point, a visual soloist crisscrossed an elastic red line, portraying both a regimented marcher and a playful dancer. In addition, the program’s finale mirrored its opening segment. In a unique choice of instrumentation, the ensemble included a saxophone choir instead of a greater range of woodwinds along with brass and pit. In its inaugural year, Blue Knights Winds from Denver finished in second place with a score of 91.750 while Inertia Independent Winds—founded in 2015—from Dayton, Ohio, placed third with a score of 89.213.

Winds Scholastic Open

South Jones HS from Ellisville, Mississippi
Score of 94.050
Directors: Brian Joyce, Dr. Mark Waymire, and Lara Pitts

Sit: South Jones High School had a lot of great moments to ponder after winning the Winds Scholastic Open championship with a score of 94.050. Its program showcased how people sit to listen, share, think, and resolve differences. Throughout the show, performers moved 36 wooden stools and 36 chairs to various locations. The stools incorporated Lazy Susan turntables, so members could spin themselves while sitting. In the emotional ballad section, soloists performed “Loss” by Don Ellis while each member turned around white placards that indicated with whom they would enjoy one final conversation. Second-place Lake Hamilton High School from Pearcy, Arkansas, scored 91.125 while third-place Father Ryan High School from Nashville scored 87.538.

A Class
2019 WGI A Class Winners

Guard Independent A

Icon Winter Guard
Score of 98.055
Director: Juan Gonzalez

Break Some Ice: Icon Winter Guard members conquered all of their potential fears as the ensemble not only performed in WGI finals for the first time but also won the championship with a score of 98.055. Using the title rap song by Dylan Owen, the group explored the concept of experiencing things for the first time and the nerves and courage that go along with it. Performers interacted on six circular floor tarps and platforms. In a unique moment, half of the performers executed a double rifle/sabre phrase. The long flag finale featured several exchanges, speed changes, and long tosses. St. Ann’s from Neponset, Massachusetts, scored 95.080 for second place while AMP from Camden, New Jersey, scored 94.485 for third place.

Guard Scholastic A

Fleming Island (Florida) HS
Score of 97.720
Director: Michael Higbe

They Will Come and They Will Go: While relationships ebb and flow, the guard members at Fleming Island High School certainly had a memorable season, capturing gold in Scholastic A class with a score of 97.720. Set to Léon’s cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” as well as original piano interludes composed by Brian Smith, the music offered something familiar with an artistic twist. The chocolate and copper costumes as well as the russet, coral, and pink color palette in the tarp created a thoughtful aesthetic. With its theme about personal interactions, the show involved a lot of partner work including a flag/rifle feature. Sunlake High School from Land O’ Lakes, Florida, followed close behind in second place with a score of 97.590. Northwest Cabarrus High School from Concord, North Carolina, finished in third place with a score of 95.645.

Percussion Independent A

Unity Percussion from Gainesville, Florida
Score of 96.150
Director: Jeremy Lee

Scenes from an Italian Restaurant: Unity Percussion served up an Independent A gold in only its fourth year of existence with a score of 96.150. Incorporating a featured saxophonist to play the melody in the title song by Billy Joel, the show also had dancers who portrayed servers and flipped actual pizza dough. During the pit break, the battery members sang “That’s Amore” and pretended to toast with beer mugs. Performers also played a snippet of the “Godfather” song before circling back to the end of “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant.” Props included five large round drums covered with checkered tablecloths to resemble diner tables. Railmen Indoor Percussion from Blair, Nebraska, scored 94.100 for second place while Paradigm Percussion from Iron Station, North Carolina, scored 93.350 for third place.

Percussion Scholastic A

Grand Blanc (Michigan) HS
Score of 96.075
Director: Anthony Leithauser

MUTE: Jumping more than three points between semifinals and finals with a score of 96.075, Grand Blanc High School made a sound impression while exploring the many meanings of the word mute. To accent the concept, the show incorporated silent choreography, dead strokes, ghost notes, sign language, and fabric to cover instruments and performers’ mouths. The snares and cymbals performed a choreographed duet that took place behind a fabric screen, and a huge black fabric covered the entire ensemble at the end. The musicians performed “Smoke” (Son Lux Remix) by Bobi Andonov, “The Sounds of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel, and “Don’t Speak” by No Doubt. Second-place E.D. White High School from Thibodaux, Louisiana, scored 95.925 while third-place Zionsville (Indiana) Community High School scored 95.050.

Winds Independent A

Daviess County HS from Owensboro, Kentucky
Score of 92.300
Director: Nate Clark

Exhibition: Performing “Pictures at an Exhibition” by Modest Mussorgsky in various styles from classical to jazzy, the Daviess County High School indoor winds ensemble portrayed artwork that comes alive inside a museum gallery. With different costumes for various sections of the ensemble, the performers jumped in and out of large frames as well as off and on sculpture platforms. At the end of the show, a janitor walked into the room, and everyone froze back in their original positions. LSM Winds from Downriver, Michigan, finished in second place with a score of 86.575 while Evidence from William Carey University in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, completed the competition in third place with a score of 83.625.

Winds Scholastic A

Valley Christian HS from San Jose, California
Score of 94.000
Director: Jeff Wilson and Troy Gunter

Infinity Orange: In its third WGI world championship win in a row (though for Independent A in 2018), Valley Christian High School scored 94.000 and ended more than two points and two spots higher than in its semifinals performance. In blue costumes, performers stood out amid the bright orange tarp and on top of multilevel platforms. LED lights lit up the percussion section and flag poles spun by guard members. Less than one point separated Valley Christian from second-place Ardrey Kell High School in Charlotte, North Carolina, with a score of 93.600 and third-place Newnan (Georgia) High School with a score of 93.375.

Photo courtesy of WGI Sport of the Arts.
Paramount Open WinterguardLara PittsDr. Mark WaymireBrian JoyceSparkman High SchoolJack AlbertEfren GutierrezTim HeasleyBakersfield (California) CollegeDripping Springs (Texas) High School winter guardArvin (California) High School winter guardFishers (Indiana) High School winter guardKylee HubbardSouth Jones High School windsCarmel High School winterguardUTRGV WindsMililani (Hawaii) High SchoolSensation Performance EnsembleLindell PalmerGeorge Mason University winterguardJason HeardCleveland Arts Performance EnsembleChino Hills (California) High School Marching BandSean CunninghamKevin ShahRailmen Indoor PercussionArdrey Kell High School windsValley Christian High School windsTroy GunterEvidence from William Carey UniversityLSM WindsDaviess County High School windsNate ClarkZionsville (Indiana) Community High SchoolWhite High SchoolGrand Blanc (Michigan) High School percussionAnthony LeithauserDaniel WilesParadigm PercussionJeremy LeeNorthwest Cabarrus High SchoolSunlake High SchoolFleming Island (Florida) High School winter guardMichael HigbeSt. Ann’s winter guardJuan GonzalezIcon Winter GuardFather Ryan High School windsLake Hamilton High School windsmike jacksonWinds Scholastic WorldSteve MasonWinds Independent WorldPercussion Scholastic WorldFlanagan High SchoolSpirit Winter PercussionArcadia (California) High SchoolGuard Independent WorldStryke WyndsInertia Independent WindsampGuard Independent OpenMusic City Mystiqueian gromjohn mapesPulse PercussionRhythm XCenter Grove High Schoolpride of cincinnatiWGI world classWGImarching artsHalftime MagazineWinds Scholastic ABroken City Marching BandAvon (Indiana) High School Marching BandPride Youth Development FoundationBlue Knights WindsTim FairbanksClear Brook High SchoolMatrix OpenPercussion Independent WorldGuard Scholastic WorldNewnan (Georgia) High SchoolJeff Wilsonmarching bandWinds Independent AUnity PercussionGuard Scholastic AWinds Scholastic OpenAndrew ZweibelChromium WindsWinds Independent OpenPercussion Scholastic OpenPercussion Independent OpenGuard Scholastic Open

About author

Christine Ngeo Katzman

Christine Ngeo Katzman is founder and chief executive officer of Muse Media, LLC, creator of books, magazines, and additional content highlighting performing arts and youth activities. Magazine assets include Halftime Magazine for marching arts participants and fans as well as Yamaha SupportED Magazine for K through 12 music educators. Previously, she was a writer and editor at Crain Communications and Imagination Publishing and a marketing manager at Chatsworth Products, Inc. Christine also worked for Yamaha Band and Orchestral Division. As a child, Christine learned five instruments, with flute being primary. She marched in the Northwestern University Marching Band, including the 1996 Rose Bowl and 1997 Citrus Bowl. Christine graduated cum laude from Northwestern University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1997 and earned an MBA with honors from the University of Southern California in 2007.