By George Basler
Julia Grella O’Connell calls the Binghamton Philharmonic Orchestra’s upcoming concert “a multi-media, interactive Halloween show.” That means audience members on Oct. 28 won’t just hear music; they’ll see some striking special effects on the stage of Broome County Forum Theatre in Binghamton.
“I won’t divulge what they are,” said the orchestra’s director of education and community engagement. Let’s just say, “They will be fun.”
The 66-member orchestra, under the direction of guest conductor Grant Cooper, will perform the concert, with the deliberately spooky title of “Phantom of the Philharmonic,” beginning at 7:30 p.m. The program will feature pieces “from the darker side of the classical repertoire” along with theme songs from popular horror movies and scary television shows, Grella O’Connell said.
The classical pieces include “Night on Bald Mountain” by Modest Mussorgsky, which was featured in the Disney movie Fantasia and has become a Halloween standard, and Camille Saint-Saens’ “Danse Macabre” in which a solo violin represents death playing his fiddle on Halloween. Uli Speth, the Philharmonic’s concert master, will be featured.
Popular selections include the theme from director John Carpenter’s classic slasher movie Halloween, and composer Bernard Herrmann’s suite for Alfred Hitchcock’s equally classic Psycho.
Other selections are Danny Elfman’s “This is Halloween” from The Nightmare Before Christmas; Charles Gounod’s “Funeral March of the Marionette,” later used as the theme music for Hitchcock’s television show; selections from The Phantom of the Opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber; John Williams’ “Harry’s Wonderous World” from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and Edward Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King” from the Peer Gynt Suite.
Finally, the Philharmonic will give a nod to Binghamton’s own Rod Serling by playing arranger Stu Philips’ “Twilight Zone: Theme and Variations.” The theme introduced the weekly television show created by Serling, who used science fiction and fantasy to deal with topical issues.
“This concert shows we have something to offer for all music lovers,” Grella O’Connell said, noting that she wants to overcome the false idea that certain music is for some people but not others. “I want to do away with (that mistaken belief),” she said.
Cooper, the guest conductor, was artistic director and conductor of the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra and was named Music Director Emeritus in 2021. He was resident conductor of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra. He serves as artistic director of the annual Bach & Beyond festival in Fredonia. and is currently the interim music director of the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra.
The Halloween-themed concert is always a crowd pleaser for the Philharmonic, Grella O’Connell said. Some audience members have come in costumes in previous years. Some musicians have, as well. It’s all designed to evoke an emotional reaction from the audience, she said.
IF YOU GO: The Binghamton Philharmonic will perform “Phantom of the Philharmonic” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28, at the Broome County Forum Theater, 236 Washington St., Binghamton. Adult ticket prices range from $25 to $65.
Tickets can be ordered through the Philharmonic’s website, www.binghamtonphilharmonic.org, or by calling the box office at 607-723-3931, ext. 1. Thanks to Visions Federal Credit Union, the 2023-2024 season sponsor, children 17 and under are free. Call the box office to order children’s tickets.
Student rush tickets are 50% off; show your ID at the concert. Rush tickets may not be purchased in advance.