By Alena Churikova
On Friday, November 6, the University Orchestra invited Sewanee students and alumni visitors to their annual Halloween concert. Guerry Auditorium was packed people of different ages. While the children’s concert was held that morning at 10 a.m., some children in funny costumes came with their parents to the evening concert and enjoyed their time dancing to the fast movement of Offenbach’s “Overture to Orpheus in the Underworld.”
The orchestra players were also wearing Halloween costumes—the most impressive of which was the pirate costume of the orchestra’s Artistic Director and Conductor Cesar Leal. His appearance in an extravagant cape and a big round earring was greeted with rounds of applause and cheers. His look fit perfectly to the second number of the program: the theme to Pirates of the Caribbean written by Badelt. During this piece, a big screen came down from the ceiling showing some sequences from the movie, making the performance even more entertaining, especially for children and movie lovers.
“SSO considerably followed the tradition of holding two concerts in one day, one for schoolers in the morning, the other for general public at night. Both were magically well-done and entertained its two groups of audience in different but consistent ways,” said Zixin Ding (C’19).
The next piece was spooky Liszt’s “Totentanz (Dance of the Dead).” The magical sounds of the orchestra and the virtuosic piano technique of Xu Huiqi Sherlock (C’17) made this Halloween-sounding piece really fascinating. “There are parts of tranquility, melancholy, anxiety, happiness, and craziness in this piece. The most enjoyable part of playing a piece like this is to come up with a story that will naturally but logically connect all these emotions or expressions,” said Xu. “For me, playing the piano is not simply fingering one song after another. First I need to feel through the colors the message that the composer wants to convey.”
The program of this concert not only combined classic repertoire with a popular movie soundtrack, but also gave listeners to chance to hear some modern pieces written in twentieth century. A student rock band Easy Honey, together with Flannery Peay (C’19), who played the fiddle, and Professor Peter Povey who played violin, performed Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir,” arranged by Povey for ensemble. The dynamic contrast between passionate violin solo of Povey and the fiery rhythmical ensemble part highlighted the concert.
“I loved the concert! It was great getting to listen to the different sounds of the orchestra meld together, especially in the last song where rock was fused together with classical. My favorite moment was when the orchestra began to play the Pirates of the Caribbean theme song,” said Tristan Carico (C’20). “A flood of memories hit me on the times my sister and I would have movie marathons. It was an amazing performance and I can’t wait for the next one!”
The SSO Halloween concerts have created a great tradition—and certainly not by chance. The talented musicians, interesting repertoire, and creative approach to performances make the orchestra a great team that knows how to please any audience.