PN marching ensembles take their talents indoor

Melissah Morris-Adkins, Staff Writer

While most people associate the marching band with Fall, many of its members are hard at work in the winter, too. PNHS has three winter ensembles: the Portage Northern Winter Guard, Cyclone Winds and Portage Northern Indoor Percussion Ensemble.  The groups have been hard at work to make the shows thus far have gone smoothly. 

The PNIPE (Portage Northern Indoor Percussion Ensemble) represents most of the percussion section of the marching band, “Imagine marching band but just the drumline and front ensemble only and more intense. Since there is no band, the melody comes from the front ensemble, and since there is no color guard, the drumline is in charge of visual aspect,” says senior Adriana Hernandez. “Also, instead of a football field, we march in a gym on a big tarp that covers half the basketball court.” The PNIPE show theme this year is based on Tomb Raider.  “We have two explorers looking for the key in the first movement, but they both want it for themselves so they fight each other and one of them eventually dies. The second movement is the explorer exploring the tomb. The final movement is the explorer finding the treasure,” Hernandez shares. The ensemble has two performances left, one for the community and one for other marching professionals. “I am very excited to perform at the community show. We get to see other performances, and perform the best that we can,” says junior Cody Wesley-Flatt.

The Portage Northern Winter Guard is another part of the Winter Ensemble. “Winter guard is a performing art that uses dance and equipment to tell a story,” explains junior Katelyn Knapp. “It isolates the color guard from fall marching band, so that the audience can enjoy the dance, flags, and weapons alone.” The group is putting on a performance called The Hive Mind. “The Hive Mind tells a story of the reconstruction of a bee hive. It begins with two bees who break off to create their own hives. Throughout the whole thing all the bees are deciding which hive to choose and new hives keep being made,” says freshmen Aliyah Zufall. “In the end the conflict is resolved and everyone comes together to make one hive.” The team is enjoying the things in between all the hard work, whether that be improving upon things that have learned in previous years or the bonds they are creating with the others on the team. “My favorite thing about winter guard is the relationships you create when bonding over something unique. This isn’t your average sports team. A friendship is strong when you both get hit in the face with the same toss. The team dynamic is one of the most amazing I’ve seen,” says Knapp. The guard is headed for state finals on March 29. “I’m so excited for states and to see all the other winter guards perform.  We aren’t going to see half the winter guards that are in our class before then,” says freshmen Anneliese Kominek. 

The final -and newest- part of the winter ensembles is Cyclone Winds. “Cyclone Winds is an indoor marching ensemble comprised of myself and eight other instrumentalists,” explains junior Paige Underwood, who plays tenor, alto, and soprano saxophone for the show. “Alongside myself, we have a baritone saxophone, a trumpet, two tubas, a mellophone, two baritones, and a drumset player.” The group is led by Derrick Geething and Steve Swetich, who are the marching band’s brass tech and marching coordinator (respectively). The sport of indoor brass is still new. “ Indoor winds is a relatively new sport. There’s only three indoor winds groups in the entire state of Michigan, and we’re the newest—this is our first year,” says Underwood. “Indoor winds is essentially indoor marching band with a lot more freedom. You have the musicians marching on the tarp just as they would be outside on turf.”  The show the Cyclone Brass is doing is called Slow Burn. “It’s all themed around fire and heat. Our songs are all fire-themed, and even our costumes are inspired by fire,” says Underwood. “I’m stoked for our competitions. I can’t wait to blow the audience’s minds! They’ll see our tiny nine-person group and think, “oh, they’re not going to be that great,” and then get hit with our incredible show. Everyone in the group is so talented, and I know we’ll be turning heads.”