Audience members were treated to some spooky tunes at Saturday night’s Halloween themed orchestra concert in the Sexon Auditorium.
Conducted by Michael Powers, the orchestra featured some costumed members such as a Minion from Despicable Me, a plague doctor, and even an angel playing the harp.
The night opened with Beethoven’s dramatic “Corialon Overture” which created a dark, mysterious atmosphere followed by the third movement of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 1.
Other pieces shied away from the darkness in favor of a whimsical tone, such as “The Muppet Medley” that followed a jazzy beat. The audience clapped along to the Muppet mashup as orchestra members rocked back and forth to the rhythm of the music before settling down for “March of the Marionette” by Charles Gounod.
“The repertoire is based on different facets of the darker nature of Halloween, or the lighter nature,” explained Powers. “We had pieces that represented the darker [nature] written by composers, more intense emotions, and then, of course, following that with two lighter pieces. The intent was to lighten up, juxtapose completely different pieces, and get the audience smiling.”
Rounding out the evening were selections from the famous opera “Carmen” by Georges Bizet. “Les Toreadores” and the seductive “Habanera” were the most well-known pieces of the night, although they may appear out of place since they originate from a love story. However, “Carmen” ends with a horror of its own as the title character is murdered.
“’Carmen’ is such a special symphony, I wasn’t sure I would ever be playing it, so I’m happy I finally got a chance to,” said concertmaster Colleen Kelly, dressed as a ringleader. “It’s a story that everyone knows, it’s nice to play music for the audience that they understand.”
Overall, Kelly was pleased with everyone’s efforts, although some members felt anxious before the performance.
Michelle Knight, double bassist, felt concerned about the beginning of the third movement of Mahler’s Symphony No. 1.
“Mahler starts with a bass solo, it’s a really hard part, so that one was the one I was most nervous about,” she said. “I felt like it went way better than I thought it might.”
Despite her nerves, Knight said she enjoyed performing as part of the group and felt good energy throughout the concert.
Given that the orchestra typically meets only once a week, Powers felt they did their best with the short span of time leading up to the concert. Besides the scheduled rehearsals, additional sectional practice was conducted out of dedication.
“There’s never enough rehearsal time,” said Powers. “There’s always little things here and there that you would like to have more perfect, but for the amount of time we had to put it together, they did a beautiful job.”