A return to finals and so much more...

a “crazy” season


2018 marks the first year Vegas Vanguard has made a WGI Finals appearance since 2013 with Ascend, having taken the silver medal in the PIA class with a score of 93.538. The 2018 ensemble and their production sANE, featuring original front ensemble scoring by Kyle Bissantz and battery scoring by Brian Howerton, married with a masterwork by Sergei Rachmaninoff, all polished off with Trent Reznor’s “I Hurt Myself Today” made for a unique musical journey surrounding the concept of insanity and mental illness.

The production was also the first in Vanguard history where teacher and student co-arranged the musical narrative, which made the show a very special one for the design team and the ensemble.

The show was remarkably well received and utilized some of the most unique and challenging technical demands the design team as ever placed on the members. Some challenges included one-handed playing while in straight jackets, playing prostrate with drums between legs, and choreography symbolizing the physical gestures used to escape a real straight jacket.

sANE and the 2018 ensemble performed in the PIA class after the program struggled to gain momentum in the PIO class. Vanguard was promoted in 2015 at the WGI Western Power Regional with their production The Native Path. Founder and (then) Director, Brian Howerton, made the decision to reclassify the ensemble back to PIA, restructure his educational and design staff, and put Vegas Vanguard back on the track of being a WGI Finalist ensemble as they were from 2011-2013 consecutively.

Vanguard’s 7th place finish at the 2018 WGI World Championships in the PIA class was a strong indicator that the program still has what it takes to earn their spot in that “finalist” category.

Most notably, was the news that sANE would be Brian Howerton’s final season as director of Vegas Vanguard. His goal was to return Vanguard to finals: a goal which he realized. Vanguard would then be passed along to his front ensemble coordinator and student of eight years, Kyle Bissantz, for the 2019 season.

Kyle Bissantz