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Fall of 2016 represents the 21st annual Halloween Concert presented by the Central Symphony Orchestra!

Central orchestras have presented “scary” music in late October dating to the 1930s. Perennial favorites are Mussorgsky- Night on Bald Mountain, Grieg- Peer Gynt, Berlioz- March to the Scaffold, and Strauss- Die Fledermaus (The Bat.).  The Halloween Concert as we know it today was the 1995 brainchild of then Director of Orchestral Activities Dr. Daniel Baldwin. These popular concerts are typically sold out well in advance. This year’s concert will be at 7 p.m. on October 27 in the McIntyre Music Building Concert Hall.  Tickets should be purchased in advance online,  $12 General Admission.

Performers dress in costumes of their choosing. Sometimes entire sections of the orchestra adopt the same costume theme. Friendly forest creatures and silly costumes are encouraged. Blood, meat cleavers, lingerie, horrific characters and costumes impeding quality music performance are discouraged. Of course the concert program is printed on pumpkin-orange paper. In it, the performers are identified by their costumes, the character they portray, or their names in anagram. The music directors also share in the fun. In the past, conductor Salokin Elioac was observed dressed as a bat, hanging upside down from a bar, conducting Fledermaus without missing a beat of his wings.

In addition to the classic pieces above, blockbuster film scores of John Williams present endless opportunity if they can be located. A few are Jaws, Superman, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Jurassic Park, and Harry Potter. (Star Wars 7 is due in 2017 from Williams, and Indiana Jones 5 in 2019.) Scores from Danny Elfman including Batman and Simpsons, and James Horner themes to Star Trek, Titanic, and Magnificent Seven are very popular too. Don’t forget all the various cowboy films, plus anything from Copland- Billy the Kid and Herrmann- Psycho, the latter more for the adult evening concert. J.S. Bach makes appearances too with the Toccata and Fugue, or Come Sweet Death. Ghostbusters, Danse Macabre, Sorcerer’s Apprentice… there are many more.

The concert stands on firm educational ground. Local elementary school children are bussed in for an afternoon performance. They learn much of the music they enjoy in films is created by large symphony orchestras, on instruments they have the opportunity to learn. The orchestra students offer candy to the kids on the way back to the busses.

The CWU Symphony faces quite a challenge learning a huge amount of music from the standard repertoire very quickly. The music is often far more difficult than you might guess.
It is likely the string of concerts is unbroken since 1995. Gaps appear in some years of program records, where past programs were torn out as mementos. At the least, this is the 21st anniversary of the first Halloween Concert in this format.

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