Richard K. Pugsley, DirectorRichard K. Pugsley, Spirit Director, began working with Spirit of America in 1993. The Spirit Winter Percussion ensemble was instituted under his tenure, and he led the group to their gold medal win at the WinterGuard International World Championships in 2012, the bronze medal in 2013, their advancement into Open Class in 2014, and their gold medal win in the Open Class in 2015. 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, Winter Percussion DirectorIan Hale has been with Spirit of America Band and Spirit WP since 2007 first as a tech, then as Percussion Director and arranger. He 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 has 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, 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 Inc., Remo Inc., and Zildjian Corporation.
Jennifer LeSeth, ChoreographerJennifer LeSeth came to Spirit of America in 2005 with more than nineteen years of performance, design, and instructional experience. She has served as color guard caption manager for Santa Clara Vanguard, color guard instructor and designer for the Madison Scouts, Bluecoats, Crossmen, and Phantom Regiment, and guard caption supervisor for Carolina Crown, among many others. Jennifer’s vision has drawn praise from fans, judges, and performers.
James Sparling, Visual DesignerJames Sparling received his degree in Music Education with a minor in Architecture at Miami University. He currently serves as the Percussion Director with the Madison Scouts Drum and Bugle Corps and the Plymouth-Canton Educational Park Bands, as well as the Caption Head/Arranger with Infinity Percussion (Orlando, FL) and Redline Percussion (Canton, MI).
Zach Schlicher, Movement/Choreography Design and PerformanceZach Schlicher began his drum corps career with The Cadets in 2001. Upon aging out in 2004, he began teaching the snare line at the Madison Scouts. After two seasons with the Scouts, he moved to be on the faculty of Carolina Crown for the next ten years. Currently, he is on the faculty for the Boston Crusaders. Away from the drum corps field, Zach works with several scholastic and independent programs within BOA and WGI. Over the last twelve years, he has developed a unique set of skills which allow him to take on multiple responsibilities and roles with any ensemble. Zach studied percussion at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Presently, he resides in Indianapolis, IN, but travels to work with multiple programs within North America. Along with his design/instruction commitments, Zach occasionally performs on cast with Aerial Experience Productions and has performed with Blue Devils Entertainment. He has also been featured on VicFirth.com in the video lesson series “Hybrid Rudiments.” Zach is endorsed by Vic Firth and Evans Drumheads.
Alex King, Battery TechAlex King started his musical career at the age of 8 playing both concert percussion and drum set. Since then he has graduated from Barnstable High School, as well as UMass Amherst, majoring in music education. While at UMass, he was a part of a number of musical ensembles, a member of the percussion studio, and section leader of the UMass Drumline. Alex marched four years of drum corps, with East Coast Jazz and with The Cadets. He has been on staff with The Madison Scouts, Carolina Crown, 7th Regiment, and has been working with Spirit of America since 2010. When Alex is not teaching percussion, he is a full time music teacher in Worcester, MA, teaching K-12 general music at Union Hill Elementary and Woodward Day Alternative Middle/High School.
Ted Sullivan, Tenor TechTed Sullivan is originally from Centerville, MA. He started playing drums at age 12, and graduated from Barnstable High School in 2006. He attended UMass Amherst, where he was a member of the marching band under the direction of Thom Hannum and George Parks. While at UMass, he completed his bachelor’s degree in Jazz and African American Music studies. Today he is a full-time musician and teacher working throughout Massachusetts.
Evan Tropp, Drill TechEvan Tropp earned his bachelor’s degree in Music Education from UMass Lowell in 2005. He is currently Band Director and Instrumental Teacher for both the middle and high school in Methuen, MA, as well as Lead Visual Instructor for the Spartans Drum and Bugle Corps (Nashua, NH). He has served in multiple capacities as instructor and designer for corps and bands throughout New England, and he marched with Spirit of America for the 2000 season.
Steve Ballard, Front Ensemble TechSteve Ballard lives in Manassas, VA with his wife Samantha and daughter Crystal. He has been an elementary school band director for Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia since 2003. He is also the winter percussion director and asst. marching band director for Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, VA. His marching arts involvement spans over 20 years of performing, writing and teaching, most notably with Thomas Jefferson HS (since 2003), Carolina Crown ('07-'13, '16), United Percussion ('09-'14) and Spirit Winter Percussion (since '14), as well as several other world class DCI, DCA and WGI ensembles. He has also served as a board member for the Atlantic Indoor Assoc. and judge for US Bands in the fall. Steve is a frequent performer with the Fairfax Wind Symphony and also a member of the Vic Firth Education Team and the National Association for Music Education. He received his Bachelor of Music in Music Education and Percussion Performance ('01) as well as his Master of Music in Music Education ('03) from Ithaca College in Ithaca, NY.
Alex Ollivierre, Snare TechAlex was a member of the Dartmouth High School Marching Band and Indoor Percussion Ensemble from 2008-2012 and is currently a member of the instructional staff. In 2010 he marched with the Bluestars Drum and Bugle Corps. From 2012-2013 he marched with the Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps as the snare drum section leader. He aged out as the percussion section leader at Carolina Crown in 2015. He is also an instructor of the Spartans Drum and Bugle Corp Drumline. He is pursuing a music education degree at UMass Dartmouth.
Sr. Danielle Dwyer, Theatrical Consultant
Classically trained but also skilled in contemporary drama, Sr. Danielle earned her Master of Arts Degree from England’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and the University of London. She also studied voice, acting, and writing with Joanna Weir at Central School of Speech and Drama (London, England); David Male of Cambridge University (Cambridge, England); and Shakespeare & Company (Lenox, MA); and studied Shakespeare at the Stella Adler Studio in New York City. Sr. Danielle is the Artistic Director of Elements Theatre Company and helps Spirit to express the drama inherent to their shows.
Colin McNutt, Show Consultant, Percussion DesignerColin McNutt began working with Spirit of America in 1995? And has been involved in varying ways since from writing and arranging battery parts, to clinics, and design, consultant work. Colin has his roots on Cape Cod, where he graduated from Barnstable High School. He worked his way up the DCI ranks, as a player (’92 tenor solo champion), tech, and instructor. He is presently the Percussion Caption Supervisor and Arranger for the ten-time DCI World Champion Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps. He has instructed and arranged for the Start of Indiana and the popular stage production Blast!, as well as presents educational clinics and designs competitive shows for groups throughout the United States, Canada, Japan, and Thailand. Colin has served on the faculty of UMass Amherst, where he is an alumnus with a double degree in Classics and Music Education. He is a sought-after clinician with Yamaha, Zildjian, REMO and Vic Firth.
Chris ValeChris Vale is no stranger to marching percussion. He began his drum corps career back in 1995 and marched nine seasons through 2003. In his early marching years, Chris was a member of the Royal Columbians, Spartans, and Boston Crusaders. He spent his final five seasons as a member of the snare line with the Cadets Drum and Bugle corps from Allentown, PA. He served as section leader from 2001-2003, helping the Cadets to three consecutive high percussion trophies.
Chris graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he studied under Thom Hannum and Colin McNutt. He has been on staff with the Madison Scouts, The Cadets, and currently is part of the Boston Crusaders percussion staff.
In addition to his work with drum corps, Chris is the percussion director for both the marching band and winter percussion ensembles at Blackstone-Millville Regional High School. He has also worked as a percussion instructor for the King Phillip Regional High School music program.
Currently, Chris teaches science at Holliston High School and resides in Hopkinton, MA with his wife, daughter, and son.
Jason IhnatJason Ihnat is an active teacher, performer, composer and arranger. He is a part- time lecturer of music theory at Eastern Michigan University as well as the percussion arranger and instructor for the EMU Marching Band. Mr. Ihnat performs frequently with the Dearborn Symphony Orchestra, Michigan Philharmonic and Macomb Symphony Orchestra. His compositions and arrangements have been performed at universities and high schools in Michigan and across the country.
Jason was a member of The Cadets in 1998 and 1999, winning a DCI World Championship in 1998, and receiving a Distinguished Service Award when he aged out in 1999. Jason went on to serve on the percussion staff with The Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps for 15 consecutive years, receiving a Cadets Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012 for his excellent work, commitment and positive attitude. He also was the director and co-founder of the Eastside Fury Percussion Ensemble from 2000-2014, and has taught the Americanos and Kiwanis Kavaliers Drum & Bugle Corps. Currently, Jason is co-director of the Novi High School Winter Percussion Ensemble, on the percussion staff with the Boston Crusaders Drum & Bugle Corps, Spirit Winter Percussion Ensemble, and serves as the director and a performer with the NFL’s Detroit Lions Drumline.
Jason's education includes a Bachelor of Music Education Degree from Wayne State University, where he studied percussion under Keith Claeys, and a Master of Music Degree in Composition from Eastern Michigan University, where he studied with renowned composer Dr. Anthony Iannaccone and percussion with professor John Dorsey.
Dan PfeifferDan Pfeiffer began his time at Spirit Winter Percussion as a member in 2006 at the age of 12. He marched with the group for a decade, aging out in the snare line in 2016. Simultaneously, he marched as a mellophone player from 2012-2015 at the Cadets Drum and Bugle corps where he served as section leader in 2015. Dan combines yoga, static stretching, interval training, and dance in his approach to movement technique and enjoys the intensely physical aspect of the marching arts.
Currently, he is studying Music Production and Engineering at Berklee College of Music, and spending his weekends with Spirit working as a visual technician and audio system engineer!