About Spirit WP
Spirit Winter Percussion is the most youthful, energetic ensemble under the Arts Empowering Life Foundation. Under the direction of Richard K. Pugsley, this award-winning indoor marching percussion ensemble provides an outlet for youth ages 10–22, to develop essential life skills of leadership, teamwork, discipline, empathy, and respect, in addition to learning the rudiments of music and marching.
Every year the group immerses itself in a richly educational process of developing a dynamic indoor show, from its initial conception to full production. The season culminates at the Winter Guard International (WGI) World Championships in Dayton, Ohio, where Spirit earned the Gold in their division in 2012, and the Bronze and Fan Favorite award in 2013. Advancing to the Open Class division in 2014, they proceeded to earned the Gold in the Open Class in 2015 with a record-breaking high score, the Silver in 2016, the Silver again in 2018, and most recently the Bronze in 2019. WGI, the “Sport of the Arts,” combines music, marching, dance, and theatre, in an explosively energetic art form that pushes the boundaries physically, emotionally, educationally, and creatively, opening new worlds of discovery for the young people who participate.
The ensemble performs throughout New England each year in various competition circuits, and hosts an annual Day of Percussion for students in New England—a day of free clinics and performances featuring world-class percussion artists. Spirit Winter Percussion is open to any young person under age 22. Since its inception in 2004, in every year in which Spirit has participated in WGI World Championships, the group has been Finalists!
About the Directors
Richard Pugsley, Director
Richard Pugsley began working with Spirit of America in 1993. Spirit Winter Percussion ensemble was instituted under his tenure, and he led the group to their gold medal win at the Winter Guard International World Championships in 2012, the bronze in 2013, their advancement into Open Class in 2014, their gold medal in 2015, and most recently the silver in 2016. He has led Spirit of America on tours and conducted workshops in schools around the world, including cultural and musical exchanges in South Africa, South Korea, Australia, Canada, and the United States. He founded the annual Day of Percussion on Cape Cod, a music education event that draws students from across New England for a free day of percussion clinics and performances by world-class artists. He received his Bachelor of Music degree, with a minor in Community Music, from Oberlin Conservatory.
Ian Hale, Percussion Director
Ian Hale studied with Dr. Glenn Price at the University of Calgary, where he received his BA in percussion performance, and received his MA from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he studied with Eduardo Leandro and Thom Hannum. He studied marimba with Leigh Howard Stevens, Gordon Stout, and She-e- Wu. He has taught percussion for the Glassmen, the Magic of Orlando, the Madison Scouts, Carolina Crown, and the Cadets, and is presently on staff with the Boston Crusaders Drum & Bugle Corps. Ian was also a music faculty member at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Assistant Director of Bands for the Calgary Stampede Showband. He currently teaches and arranges for numerous bands and percussion ensembles across the United States and Canada. Ian is endorsed by Vic Firth, Remo, and Zildjian.
Spirit Winter Percussion’s Impact
“It’s amazing to see how this program has evolved since I first came down many years back. You all have so much to be proud of and so much to offer as examples to the percussion community. Simply amazing!” —Thom Hannum
“Spirit Winter Percussion teaches me things like discipline, the art of music, and teamwork. I love that this group operates with the utmost willpower and excellency.” —Gabe, Age 13
“Spirit teaches you not only about how to be a good performer and percussionist, but how to look outside of yourself and at the bigger picture of life. Spirit teaches you to stay positive when things get tough, embrace life with full-hearted abandonment, and BE GENEROUS!!! … on and off the floor.” —Kirsti, Age 20
“Winter percussion gives you a change to expand your knowledge and skills at percussion, movement, and performance. It also helps teach me how to be focused and happy. I love drumming because it’s thrilling and challenging. It gives me a goal I have to reach at the end of each season. I’m proud to be a part of this organization.” —Ben, Age 15