New Hartford Indoor Percussion Ensemble prepares to climb high in 2023
NEW HARTFORD — The New Hartford Indoor Percussion Ensemble (NHIPE) is hoping to reach the peak of its performance abilities during the upcoming 2023 season.
This year’s show, “Matterhorn,” tells the story of the drumline’s attempts to climb the mountain, facing harsh conditions and failure before ultimately making it to the top.
“The whole concept is conquering the mountain, but then you can go metaphorically, and it’s about conquering your own goals and stuff like that,” Adam Turnbull, co-director of NHIPE, said. “Throughout the show, they try to climb the mountain and fail, but they keep going for it, so it’s about perseverance.”
The Matterhorn is a mountain in the Alps and is one of the highest summits in Europe. Known for its near-perfect pyramid-shaped peak, it is one of the most recognizable mountains in the world. However, it also has incredibly steep sections and has claimed the lives of many thrill-seeking mountain climbers.
“The music fits the show concept well, because it has ebbs and flows, you reflect on the beauty of climbing and overlooking everything, and at the same time, there’s some tragic moments,” co-director Katlin Wolford said. “There’s a bass drum feature that has this avalanche effect, it’s very ominous, and so the show has many peaks and ebbs to it.”
The drumline parents have constructed a 13-foot mock-up of the mountain that will sit on the back corner of the floor during the show, complete with the Matterhorn’s signature peak. The students push around tents and are armed with ropes and chains to aid their ascent.
NHIPE is a part of the New York State Percussion Circuit (NYSPC) and competes in the Percussion Scholastic A class. This year, the group will be competing at six NYSPC shows, ending with championships on April 2 at Gates-Chili High School in Rochester.
The group is coming off of huge success last year, having won first place out of 11 drumlines at the state championships in April 2022 with a score of 87.4, the highest in the state.
In addition to NYSPC competition, NHIPE will be traveling to Trumbull, CT, for its first-ever Winter Guard International (WGI) regional competition on Feb. 25.
While WGI is named for winter guard, it has grown to include indoor percussion and wind ensemble divisions. To afford the costs associated with WGI, the drumline and New Hartford Winter Guard — which is also attending WGI competitions this year — have partnered up to raise funds for the trips.
“Just to get the kids into the shows is expensive. Just to register for an event is expensive. And then we have to pay for our floor crew, so for us to get parents on the floor so that we can build the mountain and put the instruments on the floor, we have to pay for all their passes,” Wolford said. “And then what’s really expensive right now is gas, getting an equipment truck to Connecticut and back is very expensive.”
This is Wolford’s and Turnbull’s first year as directors of NHIPE. They have both been instructors, but the former director retired last year, leaving them in charge of the program. Wolford and Turnbull had to recruit an almost entirely new staff to help them.
Wolford said that other schools have gone through similar staffing changes.
“I’m interested to see the rebuilding of some other schools as well. I think the competition will be pretty great,” Wolford said. “And there are multiple schools from New York state that are going out to the same WGI show that we are.”
“I just want the kids to improve every show. Last year was certainly great and not anything that we’d expected,” she added.
Turnbull said that as an NHIPE alum, his favorite part of working with the drumline is that he gets to make sure they enjoy being a part of the group as much as he did.
“I work a desk job, I work in insurance, it’s not exciting really. And this gets me through the week, because I went through the program … and I enjoyed it so much that if I can give them at least an ounce of what I enjoyed, and then put more on it if I can, I know I’m enjoying myself,” he said. “Like I’m not drumming with them, I get to play like 30 seconds total out of the three-hour practice. But just to make them better musicians and enjoy this activity from me, only having high school experience, that’s what makes it worth it.”
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