This image is from the official School of Music, Theatre and Dance website.

Everyone’s heard of classic Halloween songs like Vince Guaraldi’s “Great Pumpkin Waltz” from “Charlie Brown” or Bobby Pickett’s “Monster Mash,” but not everyone has listened to songs like Adam Glaser’s “March of the Little Goblins” or Mannheim Steamroller’s “Sorcerer’s Apprentice.”

The Halloween Concert at the University of Michigan’s Hill Auditorium showcased a number of Halloween-themed musical pieces and featured the immensely talented University Symphony and Philharmonic Orchestra. The event was the perfect “pre-Halloween” activity. Adults and children alike were dressed in costume, as well as the student musicians who were decked out in full Halloween garb. The concert highlighted six pieces, all reminiscent of the Halloween holiday. The music, in tandem with the charming conductor introductions and spooky lights, made for a lovely and festive time.

While some watch movies or bake cookies to get into the Halloween spirit, this concert, hosted by the University’s School of Music, Theatre and Dance, offered a new way to celebrate. There was something special about gathering in a community space (in costume, of course) to appreciate student art while celebrating a fun holiday. The pieces beautifully highlighted each of the students’ individual talents while simultaneously showcasing the talent and impressive sound of the collective orchestra. 

Each song illustrated a different Halloween story and was led by different conductors. The conductors came out in costume and introduced the piece with a joke, which kept all the kids in the audience engaged and the adults thoroughly entertained. These cute, themed jokes also provided a smooth transition from song to song, which made the concert feel seamless. 

The arrangements put together by Kenneth Kiesler, Director of University Orchestras and Professor of Conducting, and Jayce Ogren, Assistant Professor in Conducting and Associate Director of Orchestras, were nothing short of impressive. Among the rows of wind instruments and strings and a line of percussion and harps, there was something magical about watching the bows of the violins move up and down in sync.

When watching an orchestra perform, one doesn’t necessarily expect surprises but rather a calming, traditional and sophisticated function. The Halloween Concert, however, kept the audience on the edge of their seats, constantly surprising us with new, elaborate costumes and guest performers. Even new University President Santa Ono couldn’t stay away from the Halloween Concert. A cello player himself, he was invited up on stage to perform a song with the students. 

Music, Theatre and Dance School’s Halloween Concert was nothing short of spectacular and wonderfully festive. The concert was accessible, made for audiences of all ages and did a great job at getting people excited about the holiday. Though Halloween has come and gone, the songs and performances featured at the concert have not. If you missed this concert and want to look for more performances by these orchestras, some quickly approaching performances are the University Symphony Orchestra on Monday, Nov. 7 at 8 p.m. at Hill Auditorium, as well as the Campus Orchestra’s performance on Saturday, Nov. 12 at 8 p.m. at Hill Auditorium.

Daily Arts Writer Constance Meade can be reached at