After five years of entertaining audiences, innovating and setting the standard for indoor percussion in Arizona, Dark Sky Percussion will relocate its Open Class ensemble to Los Angeles, California for the 2013 season.

Dark Sky was founded in 2007 and has since won five consecutive WGAZ State Championships as well as proving a consistent finalist at WGI events, most recently celebrating a 4th place finish at the 2012 WGI World Championship Finals.  More importantly, we have played a role in the positive development of many performers, on and off the competitive stage.

The success of our first five years would not have been possible without a committed membership, a dedicated and highly-qualified staff, and the vision, efforts and support of many. Perhaps most significant have been our partnerships with two incredible host schools over the years: without the unfailing support of directors Chris Elias [Sinagua High School, Flagstaff] and Jason Harrison [Horizon High School, Scottsdale], Dark Sky would have forever remained a dream.

Though this announcement raises many questions, one should not be our commitment to percussion in Arizona: our Open Class ensemble is moving on, but we are excited about the development of several new opportunities that will continue reaching young percussionists in Arizona. Details of these and Dark Sky Percussion [Open]’s 2013 season will be announced in the coming weeks.

We are grateful for the wonderful memories and opportunities to touch so many lives, and we look forward to doing more of the same in the years to come.

At Dark Sky Percussion, our future has never looked brighter!

Out with the old, in with the new!  We’re selling some of our gently-used performance gear and other odds and ends we’ve gathered after 5 years.

Looking for vibes or marimbas, a bass drum, amplification equipment or some giant backdrops?  Click here to check out our selection!

October 30th marked our third and final audition camp of the new season.  When the dust settled, it was clear we’d witnessed not only our best-attended auditions but also seen the strongest, most-prepared talent in our five years of existence!

But first, let’s rewind.  While 2011 was perhaps our most successful season yet – with our largest ensemble and our highest placement at WGI World Championships to date – we realized that to continue our upward streak, we needed to seize several opportunities in the music performance and technique captions.

So we kickstarted the season a month early and changed our approach to auditions with hopes we’d get the chance to see more of Arizona’s finest drummers and set our line earlier than ever.

We believe it paid off.

So what’s next?  Over this next month, we’re holding several intense rehearsals focused solely on technique.  With extra time in the front-end to gel as an ensemble, learning to move and play as one, we hope to once again take several steps forward as we embark on our latest journey – “LOST“!

With a total of 54 potential members auditioning this past Sunday, we wrapped up our second and most highly-attended audition camp to date!

For those auditioning for battery, the day started off with a short run and bleacher work led by cymbal tech Travis Guinta in the Horizon High School football stadium, followed by an hour visual block led by Tanner Woodard.  Meanwhile the front ensemble worked on their four mallet permutations and packet with Jon Mleynek and Dustin Roa in the band room.  Following the visual block, Nathan Moses-Gonzales led the battery in their first ensemble run through of the packet. During this time, tenor tech John”Donny” Hopkins and bass techs Drew McCrea & Mike Rotenbury began taking notes on and working with their respective sections.

As we move into our fifth season, our objective is to promote a highly-focused, consistent vibe from the first audition all the way to Dayton. After camp ended, Nathan said, “I feel like we’re seeing the best that Arizona has to offer, and with potential members showing up to camp from as far away as El Paso, Texas, I believe that word is beginning to spread about the professionalism of this organization.”

Creative director Seth Woodard said, “I was thoroughly impressed with the amount of improvement we saw from those auditioning from the first audition to the wrap of today’s audition. This has been by far our strongest audition to date. The 2012 ensemble is already setting a new bar for Dark Sky.”

We will host callbacks on October 30th at Horizon High School from 9:30am to 5:00pm. During this time, we will be taking one last look at all those who made call backs, and select the members for the 2012 edition of Dark Sky Percussion.

When asked what he was looking for from those who made call backs, Nathan said, “I’m looking for individuals who not only have their packet in their hands, but also have their heads in the game. Dayton is only a few months away, and we’re looking for that sense of focused urgency from every member, at every moment of every rehearsal. I’m looking for individuals who want it more than we [the staff] do, because we’re all in for this 2012 season.”

Our staff would like to thank Yamaha, Evans, Innovative Percussion, Zildjian Cymbals, and especially Jason Harrison  – Director of Bands at Horizon High School for their continued support.

For updates throughout the season, follow us on on Twitter [] and “like” us on Facebook []

Dark Sky Percussion proudly welcomes Shane Gwaltney to the team for 2012!  Mr. Gwaltney will serve as program consultant, helping to guide the direction of our 2012 production and ensuring all cylinders are firing as we continue our steady ascent to the top of the activity.

Shane has proven himself an innovator and trendsetter for his work in WGI, BOA, and DCI; most notably with the 7-time world champion Music City Mystique theatrical percussion ensemble.

In addition to his work as visual designer, battery arranger, and program coordinator for MCM, Shane also currently serves as Percussion Caption Head for the 2-time world champion Phantom Regiment Drum & Bugle Corps.

“I’m very excited for what Mr. Gwaltney will add to our 2012 production,” says Dark Sky creative director and composer/arranger Seth Woodard.  “I have been a longtime fan and admirer of the style and forward-thinking he brings to the activity through Music City Mystique.  Shane will help elevate our upcoming season to a whole new level of sophistication.”

Some of other the groups Shane has been involved with include Spirit Drum and Bugle Corps; Southwind Drum and Bugle Corps; Jacksonville State University Pasic Drum Line from Jacksonville, AL; Middle Tennessee State University Pasic Drum Line from Murfreesboro, TN; Tyler Junior College, from Tyler, TX; Choctawhatchee High School from Fort Walton Beach, FL; and Ooltewah High School from Ooltewah, TN just to name a few.

He is also a proud artist and clinician for Innovative Percussion, Dynasty Drums, Evans Drum Heads\Planet Waves, and Zildjian Cymbals.

In 2009, Shane joined an elite group of signature artists when Innovative Percussion introduced the Shane Gwaltney signature marching snare drum stick.

Dark Sky Percussion is Arizona’s leading youth percussion organization.  Since 2007, Dark Sky has used music to develop excellence in hundreds of young men and women from across the state.  Every year, the organization creates world-class educational, performance, and travel opportunities for percussionists.

Announcing DSP YOUTH!

Posted: 14 September 2011 in Announcements

Dark Sky Percussion is proud to announce DSP Youth, a brand-new percussion ensemble for east valley drummers in grades 5 – 8!

A free workshop and informational meeting for potential students and their parents will be held at Gilbert High School [1101 E Elliot Rd, Gilbert AZ 85234] on Wednesday, September 28 at 6:00pm in the orchestra room.

For more information about this exciting new ensemble, click here or on the DSP YOUTH tab at top of the page.

The DSP front ensemble

Posted: 8 September 2011 in Announcements, Auditions

Check out the front ensemble exercises and info available now on the JOIN – 2012 AUDITIONS page.

From day 1 (and by no accident!), the Dark Sky front ensemble has been on the leading edge of the indoor activity; creatively using melody, harmony, and texture to propel the battery section through its paces while integrating seamlessly with the visual program, helping convey the rich storytelling we’ve quickly become nationally-recognized for.

Members of our front ensemble will once again work closely with a team of Arizona’s most-qualified mallet percussion instructors, receiving an education unrivaled by any other indoor percussion ensemble in the state.

Stay tuned for details surrounding 2012 staff announcements!