Percussion Caption Head
Vic Kulinski has been active in the Marching and Performing Arts as a performer, a director, an arranger and an educator for over 40 years. Vic has won numerous individual awards as a snare and multi-tenor drummer, as well as drum major. He has won the DCA World Championships Class-A “Best Drum Major” award 6 times and has consistently placed top 5 in the DCA I&E Championships on snare drum since 1989.
Vic has arranged and taught for many award-winning high school bands throughout the country. Some of which include: Norwalk, Naugutuck and Shelton high school bands in Connecticut and Cypress Creek, William R. Boone, University (Orlando), Citrus and Middleburg high school bands in Florida. Currently, Vic is the arranger and caption head for Leesburg and University (Orange City) high school bands.
Vic was a performer and Corps Director for the 3-time DCA World Champion, Connecticut Hurricanes. Vic co-founded and lead the 2-time DCA “Class-A” World Champion and 3 time DCA Best Percussion, Heat Wave of Orlando. He was a performer and board member from 2006 – 2009 with 14-time DCA Open Class Finalist and DCA South Champions, Atlanta Corps Vets (CV). Through the years, he has been a percussionist with the Oxford Explorers, Prospect Drum Corps, Connecticut Royal Lancers, Connecticut Hurricanes (where he also served as Drum Major), Heat Wave of Orlando, Bayonne Bridgemen and Atlanta CV.
Vic founded Riptide Percussion Theater (RPT) in 2008 and has served as the Executive Director since its inception. RPT is the 3rd longest running independent indoor percussion ensemble in Florida. RPT had a 2015 season filled with success, placing 8th in WGI World Championship Independent A Class Finals in Dayton, Ohio, receiving the Gold Medal for the 2nd straight year (2014 & 2015) at Florida Federation of Colorguards Circuit (FFCC) Independent A Class Championships and receiving the Silver Medal at the WGI Orlando Regional.
Vic has performed professionally with Walt Disney World (Orlando, FL) groups such as Da JAMMitors, Founders of Freedom Fife & Drum Corps, Spirit of America Fife & Drum Corps and Rhythm Rascals. He also performed and directed percussion performers at Universal Studios (Orlando, FL) along with many conventions in the surrounding area as well as in Las Vegas, Washington D.C., Boston and Phoenix. Vic was the Principal Percussionist for the Orlando Stage Co. in musicals such as 1776. His percussion ensembles have opened for musical acts Bob Marley, Kool and the Gang and Tower of Power.
Vic is grateful and appreciative of the instruction he has received during his tenure. He has been instructed and mentored over the years by many legendary percussion instructors, such as Bill Rotella, Pat Scollin, Bob Dubinski, Bob Wilcox and Drum Corps Hall of Famers: Ray Luedee, Gus Barbero, and Dennis Delucia.
From 2004-2015, Vic was the Drum Corps Associates (DCA) South Region Coordinator and Chief Judge. He is also an FMBC and US Bands adjudicator. In 1997,1998 and 2003 Vic was the DCI Housing Coordinator and has been on the DCI Tour Team since 2016. He is also a Parade Marshal for the Florida Citrus Sports Parade since 1998. From 2011-2017, he was on the FFCC Board of Directors as Premiere and Elite Events Coordinator and Winds & Percussion Liaison.
Vic was inducted into the Connecticut Hurricanes Drum & Bugle Corps Hall of Fame as a Charter Member in 1994. In 2013, Vic received the honor of being inducted into the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame.
Vic proudly endorses and is a clinician for Pro-Mark Drum Sticks, Evans Drum Heads, System Blue, Sabian Cymbals and Yamaha Percussion.
Front Ensemble Caption Head
Justin Robards has been a percussionist for over 20 years. He has performed with the Okeechobee High School concert and marching bands; the Indian River Community College Wind, Symphonic, and Percussion Ensembles; the Tampa Bay Thunder Drum and Bugle Corps; the Kiwanis Kavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps; and he has performed in front of millions at the Super Bowl XLI pre-game show with Cirque du Soleil in Miami, FL. He received his Associate of Arts Degree from Indian River State College in 2007 and will be receiving his Bachelor of Arts in Music degree from the University of Central Florida in the near future.
He has taught many top programs in the state of Florida including Jupiter, Park Vista, Oviedo, Winter Park, Jensen Beach, and works currently with the Palm Beach Central and Seminole Ridge high schools. He has also taught numerous drum corps and winter drumlines
including the Kiwanis Kavaliers, Magic, Teal Sound, and Jersey Surf drum and bugle corps, as well as Infinity, Riptide, Aquarius, STRYKE, the 2016 gold medalists of WGI’s independent A champion STRYKE 2 percussion ensembles, and the 2017 WIW Silver Medalist STRYKE Wynds. This year, he will be working with STRYKE Wynds and FIU Indoor Percussion.
He is a proud endorser of Vic Firth sticks and Zildjian Cymbals and is currently celebrating his 16th year as an active instructor, arranger, audio engineer, and clinician.
Front Ensemble Coordinator/Technician
Christian Cruz-Vargas has been involved in a wide variety of musical settings since starting his career. He has performed classically with the FIU Wind Ensemble, Parris Island Marine Band Wind Ensemble, Armed Forces School of Music Wind Ensemble and Concert Band and most recently with the FIU Orchestra and Percussion Ensemble. While in the Marine Corps he also served as the drum-set player in the Big Band of Parris Island as well as the Jazz combo. He has shared the stage with some of the greatest percussionist/drummers in the Armed Forces. Along with these accomplishments as part of the Armed Forces he was able to travel the United States playing professionally with wind ensembles, percussion ensembles and parade bands. Being featured in several NFL games, music festivals and other great performances.
Christian has also been involved as a writer, arranger, consultant, and educator. Between 2007 through now he has written for several schools in the USA including Richmond Hill High School, G. Holmes Braddock High School, Felix Varela Senior High school, Lake Side High school and many others. As an instructor, he taught from 06-08 at G. Holmes Braddock High School winning the Percussion State Championship in Class 1A in 2006. While in the USMC he taught for Richmond Hill High school taking various high drum trophies in multiple marching festivals in GA. After leaving the Marine Corps he began teaching at Felix Varela Senior High School winning the state percussion championship in 2010 as Percussion Caption Head. At this same time he started working with Momentum Indoor percussion which later became Velocity Independent, where he led the team to their first finalist appearance in 2014 coming in 8th place. In 2015he took the reigns of the program and changed the name to FIU Indoor. Under his instruction as Director FIU Indoor Ensembles have won two straight fan favorite awards, 3 Gold and 1 Bronze Medal as well as several Finalist appearances, as well as expanded to include Colorguard, Winds alongside the percussion program.
His education includes G. Holmes Braddock Senior High School, Florida International University and the Armed Forces School of Music where he was named salutatorian when he graduated in 2009. Aside from these accomplishments Mr. Cruz-Vargas is currently pursuing his degree in Music Education at FIU and plans to pursue a Master’s Degree in guidance counseling once he is done with his Bachelors.
Calvin Holt has been a marching member of STRYKE World Percussion ensemble from 2014-2017, a rack player in 2014 and marching bass from 2015-2017. Calvin has been the Battery Instructor for the Everglades High drumline since 2013. In 2016, Calvin taught the Flanagan High drumline. Outside of drumming, Calvin is a student at Broward College studying physical therapy. Calvin is excited to begin teaching the Heat Wave bassline of 2018!
Front Ensemble Technician
Kaden Levy is currently a student at Florida Atlantic University pursuing a bachelor’s degree in English. He began his career in the marching arts at Palm Beach Central High School in 2008. During this time, he participated in multiple award-winning ensembles throughout his time as a student.
Upon graduating in 2012, he was asked to return as a percussion instructor and has continued working with the program ever since. The Bronco Band has gone on to win state championships in 2016 and were runner-ups in 2012, 2014, and 2017. He has also worked with other programs across Palm Beach and Osceola County and is the current Percussion Director at Wellington High School.
Kaden has gotten the opportunity to work alongside many talented educators and percussionists in the community, including Drew Tucker, Eric Rucker, Justin Robards, Mathew Haughey, and Tony Gamble, among others.
This will be Kaden’s first year with Heat Wave and he’s looking forward to an awesome 2018 season!
Paul Melcer II
I began drumming in 1993 and started my marching career at St. Thomas Aquinas HS, graduating in 2004. I have performed with the South Florida Percussion Company in the early 2000s as well as STRYKE Percussion Ensemble, becoming the quad instructor after aging out in 2008. I have taught and written for several programs in the South Florida area, most recently FIU Indoor Percussion for the 2018 WGI season.
Isabelle Rodriguez is from Miami, Florida and currently attends Florida International University. She’s marched FIU Indoor Percussion from 2012 to 2017 and spent the 2018 season teaching the cymbal line at FIU who received a bronze medal. She currently teaches at Felix Varela Senior High School and began in 2016.