By Carson Huffer
Congratulations to all of our 2023 A class finalists! Review their productions below in order of Finals placement.
Bob Jones HS
Bob Jones HS takes us to the creation of beautiful skies with their show “The Cloud Makers”. Floating across the floor, the performers flurried through bold and bright musical selections and balance tests while playing atop painted chair props scattered amongst the stage. As the cloudy skies make way for rain, painted umbrellas and incredible featured soloists showcase the emotion in the bad days of making clouds. Moving past the pain into a more beautiful tomorrow, “The Cloud Makers” ends with a powerful reminder to look up, emphasizing the uniqueness and stunning beauty found in marveling at the sky’s most impressive structures.
Valley Christian HS
Featuring a color guard personifying darkness and a flute soloist symbolizing joy, Valley Christian High School brought UD Arena on a journey of fighting back against the chaos that can consume life if you let it. As battle raged on between the opposing sides soundtracked to turbulent music, love and joy conquered their opponent in a powerful show of strength and harmony. After the final battle changed the featured dancers of chaos into white uniforms – matching the bright and golden sound resonating through performers’ final hit – the show completed with a white fabric flyover to cloak the ensemble in the bright light of the sky. Finding true peace and happiness, Valley Christian High School’s powerful finals performance reminds us that no matter what is happening in life, you will find beauty in the world if you just “Look Up”.
Bellevue West HS
Taking the crowd to a day at the races, Bellevue West HS sped into finals at full force in their 2023 show “Dayton 500”. Revving their engines – or in this case, their Razor tricycles – Bellevue West were pedal to the metal for every powerful burst of sound and turn around the track. Utilizing their numbered tricycles to actually compete in a race around the floor, their final impact included members playing while taking laps around the track, wowing the crowd with their precision and competitive energy. The “Dayton 500” will certainly be remembered for a lifetime as Bellevue West High School took the checkered flag with a photo finish – complete with the race winner snatching the flag and speeding right out of the arena.
Papillion-La Vista South HS
Pushing to the top, Papillon-La Vista South High School spends their energetic performance climbing both musical scales and literal ladders on the floor in their 2023 production, “Ascend”. As the ensemble leaves the ground and begins their climb, the grounded ensemble struggles to reach towards the top of their ladders. After the first performer finally reaches the summit, a light flute and trumpet duet brings breath and softness to the ensemble. Continually becoming more joyous, Papillon-La Vista South High School finds the journey worth the struggle and amazes the crowd with the vibrant victory of reaching the top.
Father Ryan HS
Sitting back and enjoying music is all too easy with Father Ryan High School’s “Just Press Play”. Including music from major artists like Harry Styles, Olivia Rodrigo, and The Weeknd, the performers created an immersive journey into the playlists of everyone’s favorite pop music. With light up platforms operating as the buttons of a music listening app, the floor was as vibrant as the explosive music played by each performer. Father Ryan High School rocked out the WGI finals floor, leaving the entire crowd tuned in and wishing they could “Just Press Play” again!
Kent City HS
“On The Back Nine” from Kent City High School takes the crowd to WGI’s very own golf tournament! Utilizing their own instruments for the perfect swing, two golfers are head to head for victory. Joy radiated through the ensemble with each successful putt, especially during the 15th hole of the game as a stunning bassoon solo felt the heavenly joy and spirit of competition. The back to back action came down all the way to the 18th hole with one final slow motion swing to bring the green Masters jacket home for the victor. Kent City High School truly nailed a hole in one with such a memorable and energetic performance.
With a stage fit for royalty, “Feast or Famine” finds Brandon HS enjoying all the best parts of a joyous medieval feast complete with food and drink for all… until disaster strikes. As cloaked performers personifying death barged in the door and the ensemble scattered out of view, only a few unlucky souls were left with nothing to eat and no music to play. The closing movement found the now entirely cloaked ensemble fighting death with a riveting final sound blast and a chant of their choice to “Feast!”.
Elk River Combined Schools
Elk River High School’s 2023 show “Captive Reality” brings the internal hardware of a computer to the foreground. Featuring a robotic sense of style, this immersive show begins with the stiff and electronic performers downloading an update to the system orchestrated by an electric violin soloist. As the ensemble seeks to find uniformity in their latest version, one performer begins fighting back against the system and moving with more reckless freedom and fluidity. This system anomaly fights for their own tune in an electrifying saxophone solo, thus spurring forward a more wide scale system failure. As the show closes, the build into a powerful final hit with impressive strength as the performers find freedom outside of the machine.
Strong-willed and powerful, Carlisle HS was in their element with their 2023 production “Metallic”. Featuring props showcasing the elemental symbols for iron, copper, and titanium, the performers explored the willpower of their given metals and more emotionally, themselves. As the brass hits grew stronger with each new metal, confidence and power radiated from the performers. As the show came to a close, the ensemble exploded with their ending movement of Sia’s “Titanium”, showcasing a variety of soloists with impressive stability and energy to wow the finals floor.
Eva Independent Winds
Hitting the floor with a quick and vibrant pulse, Eva Independent stayed in constant motion with their 2023 production “Heartbeats”. An exploration of both changing pulse and the love that comes with each heartbeat, the ensemble laid their hearts on the line as they brought the house down with immense sound. Eva Independent showcased a beautiful movement of a dancer searching for connection with the rest of the performers soundtracked to “Gravity” by Sara Barelles led by a duet of a saxophone and a bass saxophone. Eva Independent’s moving finals performance connected the performers with the crowd, leaving everyone’s “Heartbeats” racing just a little bit faster with love for one another.
Vortex Indoor Winds
Vortex Indoor Winds brought the fun of an energetic jam session to WGI finals with their 2023 show “Setlist’. The ensemble’s vibrant sound was resonant through the arena as the members danced across the checkered floor of their WGI musical set with passion. With every new song added to the setlist, Vortex expertly featured the strengths of each performer with special moments to showcase their explosive talent. With such an energetic “Setlist”, UD Arena felt the joy of a fantastic show headlined by Vortex.
Searching for happiness, Ethereal Winds explores the all too familiar face of sadness in “Why So Blue?” As a dance soloist struggles alone and wades through the uncertain waters of depression soundtracked to various hits such as “505” by the Arctic Monkeys, she emotionally finds friends in the ensemble who remind her that often the key to happiness comes with choosing companionship and joy. As the show closes, the performers leave us with the passionate reminder to always try to choose happiness and when down, ask yourself, “Why So Blue?”
Westerville Winds immediately caught attention with thrones draped in regal shades of red for their show “Knights of The Red Table”. With featured dancers tossing and playing red sabres, flutes, and sticks, the performers battled various trials and tribulations as the table’s strength was tested physically and musically. Five red thrones surrounded the floor and later moved to showcase the ensemble’s shifting seats of power, ending with the Westerville Winds solidifying their finals run with a sword-carrying queen leading the “Knights of The Red Table” to an expressive finish.
With their 2023 program titled “Ascent Into Madness”, Empyrean Winds explored a wide range of emotions while traveling across their cracked and checkered laminate tarp. The first movement featured joyous and triumphant music with performers all smiles before moving into an emotional rendition of Patrick Watson’s “je te laisserai des mots” carried by a powerful flute soloist. The weight of the performers’ madness grew with Billie Eilish’s “bad guy” as one performer tried to fight against the final push of the ensemble. Falling to the ground from the weight of his struggles, the dance soloist and all of Empyrean Winds explored the true depth of madness that can occur in one’s mind.