Orchestra brings Halloween spirit to campus

The Geneseo Symphony Orchestra gave a special Halloween Pops concert on Sunday Oct. 30. Occurring in Wadsworth Auditorium, the event venue was decked out with balloons, pumpkins, bales of hay and other decorations. In truth, the performance felt more like a party than anything else, and that’s exactly how adjunct faculty in music and director Jim Tiller wanted it.

The festive program included instrumental selections from popular film and television—such as Star Wars, “Game of Thrones” and Harry Potter—in addition to various other Halloween-themed pieces, like Camille Saint-Saens’ “Danse Macabre.” The concert also doubled as a costume contest, as everyone in the audience was encouraged to dress up.

The whole orchestra was in top-notch costumes as well, including Tiller. Pirates, Pikachus and a Princess Leia could be spotted on stage–along with a very convincing Donald Trump in the percussion section.

The orchestra concert had originally been scheduled for the week prior, but when Tiller saw how close it was to Halloween, he knew it was a great opportunity to do something special for the students. He requested that the date be pushed back a week to the day before Halloween. He then reached out to local Geneseo businesses, including Mama Mia’s, Geneseo Family Restaurant and Wegmans, who generously donated decorations and gift-card prizes for the contest winners.

Tiller wanted the Halloween Pops concert to be a different kind of concert. His goals were to get as many people involved as he could and to increase both energy and enthusiasm among the students in order to make the concert as interactive as possible. He used the non-traditional program to get students more excited about playing in the orchestra, especially those who weren’t so familiar with the usual classical repertoire.

“A majority of the students [in the orchestra] are non-music majors” Tiller said. “They’re doing it because they love it … If it gets a little rowdy, I’m totally cool with that.”

The performance was meant to be a time for celebration and school spirit, and as a result Tiller’s vision for the concert was wonderfully and energetically received. It had something for everyone, and all kinds of student groups could be found in the audience: members of the Chinese club, the Geneseo Chamber singers and even athletes from the swimming and diving team.

And of course, everyone was in costume. Judges for the contest wandered the aisles during the first half of the concert; winners were announced during the intermission. Among the winners were a violinist dressed as the Pope and an audience member clothed as a very convincing Jon Snow from “Game of Thrones.” First prize–which was a $100 gift certificate to Wegmans–went to a particularly clever group of music majors, as they were dressed as augmented sixth chords: the German sixth, French sixth and Italian sixth.

The concert was filled with energy, from start to finish. Included in the second set were two songs from “Phantom of the Opera,” featuring baritone music major senior Jordan Bachmann and professional soprano Carley DeFranco. Their impressive and dramatic performance ended the concert with a bang.

This unique and interactive concert was a real Halloween treat; the last song was met with thundering applause. The energy and enthusiasm in the room was palpable, with everyone bonding over the spirit of Halloween.