Jacob Badagliacco, a junior at Andrew High School, plays the vibraphone, along with other members of the school's winter percussion ensemble, before an assembly Thursday morning. The group earned a world championship in April. | Nick Swedberg~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 3, 2014 6:42AM
Champions at Andrew High School get thrown a party as their reward.
For musicians in the Tinley Park school’s winter percussion ensemble, the party Thursday morning was another remarkable performance.
Fresh off winning the gold medal at the Winter Guard International competition in April at the University of Dayton in Ohio, the world champions performed their winning number, “Let It Rain,” for fellow students Thursday morning.
The group, composed entirely of percussionists, previously brought home three silver medals from world championship competitions.
This year, 80 percent of the musicians were playing a new instrument and more than than half were in their first year with the ensemble.
Directors Alan Barone, John Kelly and Mike Zuziak lead the winter percussion group.
“I’m inspired day after day with them,” Zuziak said shortly before Thursday morning’s performance in the school gymnasium.
Students, teachers, parents, administrators and district officials gave the group a standing ovation after the show, which involves booming music, choreographed movement and set pieces.
“Let it Rain” is about taking all the punches life brings and being successful, school band director Mark Iwinski said.
Students from the main marching band, who often play a different instrument, will take up something new if they join the winter percussion ensemble, Iwinski said.
Luke Vankleek, a freshman at Andrew, plays the flute. But after listening to a friend who graduated last year talk about the winter percussion ensemble, he decided to join. He plays auxiliary percussion for the ensemble.
What’s the biggest difference between marching band and winter percussion, according to Vankleek?
“It’s a lot louder,” he said.
The ensemble put in more than 300 hours of practice leading up to the Winter Guard International competition.