Our Story

In 2001, the city of Flagstaff, Arizona acts to protect the brilliance of the night sky from light pollution, earning its designation as the world's first International Dark Sky City.

Our name pays homage to this bold move, to our northern Arizona roots, and to the bright and infinite possibility of those dark skies. Seven years later, Dark Sky Percussion is born.

Since 2008, we’ve worked passionately to instill in our members life skills through music education and performance. Leadership, teamwork, discipline, integrity and a relentless work ethic – these qualities develop a stronger individual and a stronger ensemble, and will serve our members in their personal, professional and educational pursuits for the rest of their lives.

Our organization is now in Southern California and competes regionally each year through the Southern California Percussion Alliance [SCPA] and internationally through Winter Guard International [WGI].

Members are selected through an audition process each fall and rehearse every weekend from October to April, with performances starting in January.

This ensemble is comprised of over 40 young men and women, ages 17-22 who perform on a variety of percussion instruments. The two main sections are the battery – snare drums, tenor drums, bass drums and cymbals – and the front ensemble, an extensive assortment of mallet and electronic keyboards, ethnic percussion.

More than 600 youth – kindergarten through college, across the southwest and as far as Japan – have passed through our percussion ensembles and educational clinics.

Dark Sky first competed in the WGAZ circuit and qualified as a WGI PIO Finalist in our first year of competition with the original First Avenue Music show titled “Fresh Snow”.

In year three (2010) Dark Sky made the move to Scottsdale, AZ where we remained for the 2011 and 2012 seasons.  All three of these years saw the group grow in experience and rise in the PIO national ranks.

Perhaps the toughest and most unusual move for Dark Sky was the last and likely final move to Southern, CA.  This brought the design team together for the first time since 2009 and although it was a challenging year, 2013 saw the DSP team near the top of the PIO ensembles at the WGI Championships performing the emotional “Sound of My Voice”.

2014 was a game-changer for the DSP team as both SCPA and WGI promoted Dark Sky mid-season to the World Class division.

Our organization was honored to earn a Semifinal performance performing “The Hive”and thus began many exciting, new challenges in the PIW division.

2015 was our first full season in the World Class division.  Our membership and staff grew and we were again honored to perform in the WGI Semifinals with our program titled “Sketch”.

2016 marked a special year finishing as a PIW World Class Finalist, as well as our 9th year of continuous participation in the independent divisions of indoor percussion. 

2017 marked our 10th consecutive season and our ensemble took on an Ike Jackson inspired program called "What Do You Do With An Idea?"  Despite the visual challenges of this unique program, the Dark Sky team again earned a WGI Semi-Final performance.

For year 11, Dark Sky teamed up with Ike Jackson for not only the design but also the staging of "Transcendence", an avante guard program with ramps, costume changes and electrified Diddly-Bo's.  Our member's hard work paid off as they took on the vision of Mr. Jackson and original music of Seth Woodard.  Combine that with the fresh new battery  beats from arranger Darren VanDerPoel and Dark Sky was back in the University of Dayton Arena for Finals night. 

We are excited and working hard to continue our commitment to excellence, creativity and mutual respect within the marching arts community.  We are also proud of the many alumni carrying on their love of this activity as instructors in Arizona, California and Japan!

A “Dark Sky” means the conditions are such that you can see millions of stars shining far brighter than under normal conditions.  We too aspire to shine long and bright like those dark skies. We appreciate you learning more about Dark Sky Percussion and hope to see you this 2019 season!

Hard to believe we’re heading into Dark Sky’s 13th consecutive season.
We’re enjoying the ride and hope to keep our fans excited for years to come!
— Seth Woodard, Founder & Creative Director

our Wgi journey

  • 2008 Open Class WGI Finalist (Flagstaff, AZ)

  • 2009 Open Class WGI Semifinalists

  • 2010 Open Class WGI Finalist

  • 2011 Open Class WGI Finalist

  • 2012 Open Class WGI Finalist

  • 2013 Open Class WGI Finalists (CA)

  • 2014 Promotion to PIW & WGI SemiFinalist

  • 2015 First Full Year in PIW, WGI Semifinalist

  • 2016 World Class Finalist, 14th

  • 2017 World Class Semifinalists

  • 2018 World Class Finalists, 14th

  • 2019 World Class Finalists, 11th