‘Spooktackle’ at TAMIU Offers
Hauntingly Good Halloween
As darkness falls and engulfs ghouls, goblins and ghosts searching for treats or leaving behind tricks, escape to the macabre sounds of the first “Orchestra Spooktackle” performed by the Combined College Orchestra at Texas A&M International University Friday, Oct. 31 at the Center for the Fine and Performing Arts Recital Hall.
The free concert will begin promptly at 7:30 p.m. Children are welcome.
Joining the orchestra to portray the dancing skeletons of Saint-Saëns’ “Dance Macabre” will be the TAMIU intermediate/advanced ballet students with choreography by Courtney Mulcahy, visiting assistant professor of dance.
“According to a French superstition, each year at midnight on Halloween, ‘Death’ emerges and summons all the skeletons to rise and dance by playing a sarabande on the ‘fiddle,’ ” explained Brendan Townsend, conductor.
“To musically portray the idea—a popular theme among French romantic composers— Saint-Saëns wrote a wonderful tone poem in which a solo violin is tuned with one string lowered by a half step to represent the discordant ‘Death.’ His melody is picked up by other instruments in the orchestra and passed about. Particularly chilling is the effect of the xylophone, while in the background the dirge of the old ‘Dies Irae’ is twisted and varied.
“The piece has been used in movies and cartoons and is really a fabulously evocative work. Having the TAMIU ballet students along to bring the piece to life is a fantastic addition,” added Townsend.
He said that another work that will be recognizable to everyone is the incidental music to Ibsen’s play “Peer Gynt” by the Scandinavian composer Edvard Grieg.
“Opening with the glorious ‘Morning’ melody, the four movements outline some of the bizarre episodes in the heroes’ tale, including the death of his mother and the popular ‘Hall of the Mountain King’ where the hero is chased by wild and weird goblins,” Townsend explained.
Not all the music in the program is dark, but there is a mystery included in the program.
“Because Halloween has become quite a popular holiday in the United States, the remainder of the program will feature a couple of more patriotic tunes including the ‘Hoedown’ from Aaron Copland’s ‘Rodeo’ and the ‘Stars & Stripes Forever’ that will be conducted by a mystery guest,” Townsend said.
To add further elements of mystery and surprise, orchestra members will be dressed in costumes. Audience members are also encouraged to join in the festivities with their own costumes.
For more information, please contact Townsend at 326.3039.
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