University Orchestras' 'Halloween Concert' is the best way to kick off Hallo-week

Wednesday, October 25, 2017 - 1:42pm

The University’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance presents the University Orchestras’s 41st annual “Halloween Concert,” complete with costumes, skits, dancing and music that everyone from children to students to seasoned orchestral veterans can enjoy.

Every Halloween, the University Symphony Orchestra and the University Philharmonia join forces to become the four-time Grammy award-winning ensemble “The University Orchestras.” Newcomers and veteran Halloween concert attendees alike will enjoy this “huge, exciting and dynamic orchestra” said Kenneth Kiesler,  professor of conducting, 2014 Grammy nominee and director of the University Orchestras. This will be Kiesler’s 23rd “Halloween Concert” as director.

Kiesler, however, won’t be conducting until the very end of the concert. During the performance, attendees will see many different conductors take the stand: the masters and doctoral students of the graduate conducting program.

“The University of Michigan’s graduate conducting program has been ranked first in the nation by the US News and World Report since 1997,” Kiesler said. “This concert is a great opportunity for a first year master student to take a piece and stand in front of a big orchestra, to work on it and bring it to a higher level and then conduct it in a concert.”

The pieces that will be performed present a wide variety and are chosen to make an impact on the audience.

“They are either loud and exciting, or tender and beautiful,” Kiesler said. “They’re among the pieces that make us all love music.”

These pieces are great for everyone to enjoy since they are short and suitable for all ages, making it a family-friendly outing as well. Students and native Ann Arborites alike will recognize some familiar tunes, like the theme from “Ghostbusters,” which is traditionally used to close out the concert.

“The audience has the opportunity to hear some of the highlights of the greatest pieces written for orchestra,” Kiesler said. 

The University Orchestras is the only college orchestra in the United States to have won four Grammy awards and is also the highest seller of commercial recordings of any college orchestra. Their most recent recording of Darius Milhaud's “L'Orestie d'Eschyle” (Oresteia of Aeschylus) received a nod from the academy in 2014 in the category of Best Opera Recording.

This isn’t a typical orchestra concert. On top of the great music, the Halloween Concert is unique in that every person on stage is wearing a costume. It also features an overarching story that happens onstage throughout the performance.

“This concert combines everything people love about the stage,” said Chelsea Gallo, second-year SMTD graduate student. “There’s acting, music, costumes, lighting, sound effects and dancing — all in 70 minutes and with 100 plus players on stage.”

The University Orchestras's “Halloween Concert” will be a frightfully fun way to spend an autumn, Sunday afternoon and to get in the spirit of the haunted holiday.