Dartmouth music sweeps top spots at indoor guard, winds, percussion home show

Mar 20, 2022

Saturday was a big day for Dartmouth Public Schools’ music program. 

Its color guard, wind ensemble and indoor percussion each took top honors at the New England Scholastic Band Association’s regional competition hosted at Dartmouth High.

“All performances were absolutely top-notch,” Music Director Ian Flint said. “We’re at a great point in the season.”

More than 30 indoor percussion and color guard teams— from independent groups to schools from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Hampshire — took part in the eight-hour show on March 19. 

Unlike previous years, this show also featured performances from the school’s wind ensemble. 

The group’s theme was “Mechanized” and featured Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 4 and “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons.

“A classical piece with something more modern combined,” Flint said.

The color guard, meanwhile, had its routine set to the music and quotes of Alanis Morisette. The group was given a score of 86.7 — the highest of any color guard division.

After eight hours of music, Dartmouth High’s indoor percussion team ended the day with their performance of “The Curse of Medusa.”

The performance, which used songs from the “Prince of Persia” soundtrack, had the student musicians dressed in togas, along with senior violinist Olivia Jasmin dressed as the snake-haired Medusa.

“I’ve never done anything like this,” Jasmin said. “I’ve never had to move and play violin before. It was so cool and different from normal orchestral ways.”

No audience members were turned to stone during the performance, but some of Medusa’s victims were part of the moving set.

The band, which was the only group of the day competing in the World-Class division, was given a score of 92.2 for their performance — the highest of any group at the regional competition.

​​Percussion Director Tom Aungst said the idea for the percussion performance was to build around the drum kit used by Ethan Church and Jasmin’s violin components. 

“You might have strings in the pit, but to be out there performing is something you don’t tend to see much,” he said.

A lot of work went into achieving these top scores, Aungst said. He noted that in the Saturdays leading up to the March 19 home show that the bands spent 11 hours each week rehearsing their set.

“If you want to be at the top end of the food chain, you have to be willing to put in the time — and these kids are,” he said. “It’s a culture that’s been here for decades and the kids are all in.”

He also thanked music department staff and families for their role in ensuring the bands stay on top.

“They’re really the best in the country,” Aungst said.

The groups next travel to New Jersey for the Winter Guard International regional competition.

The percussion and wind ensembles will return to Dartmouth High for a chance at the NESBA championship on Saturday, April 9.