2023 Percussion Scholastic World Class Finalist Review

2023 Percussion Scholastic World Class Finalist Review

By Kellie Finch

Congratulations to all of our 2023 Scholastic World class finalists!  Review their productions below in order of Finals placement.

Ayala HS

(97.938) 1st

Ayala HS showed off the peak of their visual and creative talents during their production, entitled “Passed to the Present.” Slanted ladder props pieced together to form a triangle, where, at its peak, one solo performer stood, before other members of the ensemble crawled out from under the prop’s panels. Drums beat from inside the prop, soon to be revealed as other performers faced their attention to the soloist. Intricate, staggered choreography throughout the performance highlighted the ensemble’s ability to utilize its strengths well, as dancers traded around glowing orbs from the center of the floor. Performers did backbends, hung upside down, and played their hearts out, producing an overall exceptional showcase of grace and power.

Chino Hills HS

(97.200) 2nd

Chino Hills HS pulled back the curtain and revealed what truly happens off of the performance stage, with their production, entitled “In This Room.” What began as an upbeat, lighthearted showcase of the ensemble’s personalities quickly became a reality check, as the curtains changed to stone walls, the red stage turned to white, and the exhaustion of the performers set in. Anxious reminders like an essay being due or the worry of disappointing their friends for being so busy hung over the ensemble’s heads, but they then showed that the stage is a magical place to let go of all of life’s worries. A chamber ensemble made up of saxophones, trombones, a trumpet, and a mellophone accompanied the group as they played, beautifully portraying the reasons that we all take part in this activity.

Avon HS

(96.738) 3rd

Avon HS took the UD Arena audience on a whimsical discovery of the Greek symbol, “Delta,” during their finals performance. Triangles made up everything, from geometric patterns on the performers’ uniforms and floor to platforms that were pieced together to produce different 3-sided variations. Headstands and other planked yoga poses expanded the theme further, as performers appeared to be having the times of their lives. Members of the ensemble threw bouncy balls inside of various props, showcasing their quick speeds and concentration that closely matched the musical aspirations of the pit and battery. 

Vista Murrieta HS

(96.113) 4th

Vista Murrieta HS shared the exhausting struggles of “Tilting at Windmills” in their finals run-through in UD Arena. A phrase to mean “fighting imaginary enemies,” the entire performance held a quality of softness and beauty, with a lingering sense of anxiety in the background. Increasing tempos portrayed the never-ending feeling of life’s constant stressors, as the battery acted out the battle that takes place inside one’s head. Performers spun poles around to mimic the turning of a windmill, concluding their emotional journey with one member left holding their pole at the center of the floor.

Center Grove HS

(95.050) 5th

Center Grove HS produced an ethereal interpretation of the classic “Swan Lake” through their production, entitled “Uncaged.” The battery acted as the white swan, while the pit was the black swan, each side joined by a ballet dancer in their respective color’s costume. Poles moved across the floor throughout the performance to create a cage, trapping different groups of people in it as the show progressed. The contrasting sides allowed the pit and battery to each have their moments to shine, but moments of interaction between the dark and light produced an exciting and cohesive performance. The two dancers mirrored each other’s movements at times, doing everything from turns to leaps to make the audience feel like they were spending a day at the ballet.

Dartmouth HS

(94.688) 6th

“Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary…” Dartmouth HS brought “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe to life in their performance, entitled “The Raven: From the Desk of Edgar Allan Poe.” Performers were dressed up as different variations of Poe, with props setting the scene in an old house. A mysterious box sat at the front of the floor before it was revealed that it was instead a raven inside its cage, portrayed by the drumset player. Parts of “The Raven ” were overlayed throughout the performance as more ravens appeared, terrorizing the collection of Poes and turning them into ravens themselves. The show ended as the ravens forced the remainder of the Poes into a cage at the center of the floor, excellently bringing one of Poe’s most famous poems to life.

Cy-Fair HS

(93.413) 7th

“Dona Nobis Pacem,” a Latin phrase meaning “Grant Us Peace,” acted as the theme for Cy-Fair HS’s production. A powerful piece about freedom began with the ensemble holding each other, as a vocal track spoke impactfully. The subtlety and beauty of the production were made possible by the pit’s elegance as the vocals mentioned butterflies and seeing life’s colors. The performance’s poetry was shown through delicate choreography, strong downbeats and hits from the battery moving the story along. Strong emotions and breath control from the entire ensemble allowed the piece to gracefully come to a close, with performers swaying from side to side. 

Broken Arrow HS

(90.788) 8th

Broken Arrow HS “Transcend”ed to a magical place of love and the unimaginable during their finals performance in UD Arena. Performers partook in delicate floor choreography, connecting with one another through partner work and lifts. Drill and props spun around the floor as a clarinet soloist played, portraying the idea that love transcends time and space, is powerful, and cannot be compared. This beauty was only made possible by the performance quality and melodic decisions by the pit and battery, ending the show as two members of the ensemble became the focal point, dancing together as the rest of the group melted to the floor.

Clear Brook HS

(90.575) 9th

Clear Brook HS discovered the light at the bottom of the ocean with their performance, entitled “Abyss.” Colorful coral reefs scattered the floor, with fish puppets seen swimming through the deep. Performers’ uniforms covered everything but their eyes and noses, each and every person embracing their inner sea creature. Pit-heavy sections allowed the battery to showcase its dynamic choreography, while battery-prominent moments replicated the darkness of the abyss. The star of the show, a giant anglerfish, shined its light on the ensemble, intimidating in appearance but gentle in reality, lighting a path for the group to finish their show strong. 

Burleson Centennial HS

(90.313) 10th

Burleson Centennial HS brought the audience on an emotional underwater journey through their production, “Beta.” A school of fish swarmed around the tarp, showcasing the gentle beauty of their underwater oasis through flowy choreography and pit-heavy music. All of a sudden, an evil betta fish emerged from an underwater cave, creating a 180 shift and handing focus over to the battery. The betta fish experienced an impressive amount of character development in a quick show, changing from a terrifying beast to a friend of the fish, realizing he was just in need of company. Just as it seemed that all was well, a second betta (beta) fish, this time in red, appeared on the floor – hurting the original (alpha) betta and ending the show with audible crying from the ensemble, as well as a heartbreaking reiteration of the original betta’s previous question: “Why do I have to be me?”

Arcadia HS

(89.888) 11th

Arcadia HS really “Shimmer”ed in UD Arena during their PSW finals performance. Members of the ensemble danced around on multiple different platforms, throwing around half-circle props as they communicated with one another. Glitter-covered members’ uniforms, the sparkle being portrayed further through intricate rhythms by the pit and a flute solo on one of the props. Dancers balanced on the half-circles as the battery moved around them, the music building in tempo and intensity as the show came to a close.

Boswell HS

(89.200) 12th

Boswell HS brought the UD Arena audience through an ancient “Ritual” during their finals production. The performance began with a featured soloist in the center of the floor, wearing a gold headpiece, as the remainder of the ensemble bowed down to her – aside from four members, who could be found pounding on ceremonial drums at the back of the floor. Performers utilized their instruments in unique ways to produce an authentic, ritualistic sound, as others danced around the floor with bamboo poles. In one corner, a prisoner could be found in a cage, while the battery and pit built up suspense and volume until he was released. Excellent acting was achieved by the entire ensemble, and the show concluded as the prisoner’s heart was ripped from his chest by the original soloist.

Sparkman HS

(88.875) 13th

Sparkman HS turned UD Arena into a desert full of rhythm and excitement with their production, “The Land of Sun and Shadow.” The performance began with a drum and a flute soloist, opposite each other across the floor. Half of the ensemble sported yellow masks, while the other had purple – each with a distinct creature on it. Unusual instrumentations and purple ribbons added flair to the show, really helping bring the theme to life. Acting skills and intricate choreography caused the entire ensemble to shine as performers drummed on cube props and threw sticks to one another. The show ended with the battery being overwhelmed by a large piece of purple fabric, melting them into the floor.

Franklin Central HS

(87.275) 14th

Franklin Central HS brought a sense of color and excitement to UD Arena with their production, entitled “Be the Change.” Signified by large dominoes all across the back and left side of the tarp, performers explored the fun, lighthearted parts of life, including inflatable tube men and excerpts from “All by Myself” by Celine Dion on the drumset and “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson. Performers excelled in their emoting, shining figuratively and literally as multicolored lights appeared on their uniforms throughout the show. In the end, the domino structure was set off, signifying the effect one simple act could have on someone’s life, and encouraging that act to be a positive one.

Petal HS

(86.475) 15th

“Dear Teenage Me,”

Stay true to yourself, and you’re going to be just fine. This is the main lesson learned during Petal HS’s emotional journey in PSW finals. Members of the ensemble emoted strongly as one featured performer told her story, reading out a letter she had written to the past version of herself. Performers moved around the floor, playing on top of tables as an excerpt from “Hand in My Pocket” by Alanis Morissette reminded everyone they would be “fine, fine, fine.” Intricate floor choreography from the battery reflected the back-and-forth doubt that life can bring, finishing off the show with a refreshing sense of acceptance to close out the letter.