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Cincinnati music competition draws 150,000

By Mackenzie Clune, For The Miami Student

Some of the most talented young musicians and performing arts groups from over 10 states will come together for the 38th Major Mid-East Championship at the Cintas Center in Cincinnati.

Winter guard is among the most evolved marching arts. Over 150,000 spectators at the Winter Guard International (WGI) Regionals and WGI World Championships relish the indoor percussion and winds each year.

"Each year, more than 90,000 students participate in indoor color guard and percussion events across the country," WGI Executive Director Ron Nankervis said. "We're excited to expand that number this year with the creation of our new Winds Division opening up more performance opportunities to winds and marching band groups."

WGI competitions are divided into two main divisions: Scholastic, for high school age competitors, and Independent, typically for college students.

The majority of the groups competing at the Scholastic level have been training for the event since last spring.

They do this through their time spent with their school marching band, and now at their highpoint in the Winter Guard activity.

"The dedication and passion of marching arts students rival any athletic or extracurricular program in schools today," Nankervis said.

Most competitors, both at the Scholastic level and Independent level, have been training for years.

Most of them started specifically training for this Winter Guard show around either September or November.

According to Rosie Queen, a member of the WGI Board of Directors, the facility is one of the best things about this particular regional event.

"Many years ago we would have this same event in a high school gymnasium," Queen said. "We are lucky that the WGI activity has grown so much that we have enough participants to compete at this beautiful facility, and that the Cintas Center has become available for us to use, it is the perfect venue for our activity."

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WGI has really evolved from where it started in 1978, consistently increasing in both size and participation.

According to Queen, there are now groups from all over the world competing at the World Championship in Dayton, in April.

Back in 1993, a Percussion division was added to the Color Guard competitions.

Now in 2015, a "Winds" division will be added, giving a third option for competitors to participate in.

"So many competing units have developed their styles through dance and choreography in a way that years ago, we could only dream of," Queen said. "If you love watching creative productions and talented passionate performers, you will love WGI."