Concert knocks wind out of audience in PAC

Alexandra Long, Staff writer

On Oct. 27, The D’Angelo Department of Music presented the Mercyhurst University Wind Ensemble’s Halloween performance in the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center.

The ensemble, directed by Scott Meier, Ph.D., was dressed in festive costumes and performed many pieces intended to get the audience in the mood for the Halloween season.

Meier began the evening by thanking the audience for attending the performance alive and promising a haunting performance.

The first piece performed was “Haunted Carnival” by Rob Grice.

The melody throughout created the sense of dread and suspense for what would come next.

Broken up between these feelings were melodies one would expect to hear while at the carnival, though with a distinct eerie twist.

The piece ended with a sudden jump scare as a masked performer propelled himself from his seat, shouting out at the audience.

Following this was a piece called “Phantasmagoria” by Jeremy Bell.

The scene was set with dimmed lights, and the piece began with a melody that sounded distinctly like a lullaby.

The soothing feeling it created was quickly replaced with strong feelings of mystery and longing.

This was accompanied by fog, which crept slowly onto the stage from the wings.

At several climaxes of the piece, the longing seemed to burst in anger before returning to melancholy once more.

As a preface to the next song, “Shadow Waltzes” by Brian Balmages, Meier invited the audience to dance in the aisles assuring them that they would be easier for spirits to target if they did so.

The song was very engaging as it traveled back and forth between two extremes.

This haunting piece began quite lightheartedly, but throughout would transition between a quiet sense of secrets (presumably the shadows) and the violent crashing of cymbals and uproar of instruments that kept the audience captivated.

The next piece, “Ghosts” by Stephen McNeff, was interesting in that each of its nine movements was prefaced by videos projected onto a screen above the ensemble and featured elaborate lighting sequences to accent the music.

Each video told a short poem recounting the tales of famous ghosts and the places and people they haunted.

These stories would then be represented through the movements that followed them.

While each piece was unique and several featured distinct sounds, such as dragging chains, church bells and death march sequences, they all contributed to the work as a whole and resulted in a perfectly haunting storybook.

The fifth piece performed was “Ghost Train” by Eric Whitacre. This piece was extremely entertaining and kept the audience captivated for every moment.

The ensemble created a deep sense of dread and suspense as the ghost train quickly approached, threatening to take the listener as its next passenger at any moment.

Next was “The Cave You Fear” by Michael Markowski.

This piece was very entertaining as it felt like a score from a famous adventure movie, like Indiana Jones.

The constant excitement of this piece was accentuated by the beams of white light that were shining all around the theater, which closely resembled both the shimmering of discovered treasure and the light at the end of the cave the protagonist would most likely be escaping.

The next piece performed was “The Haunted Carousel” by Erika Svanoe.

This piece closely resembled the first piece of the concert, “Haunted Carnival,” as it featured an eerie calliope-sounding melody.

It was distinct in its use of ghostly, almost extraterrestrial noises and rainbow beams of light which circled the theater.

Finally, the piece ended as members of the ensemble sang the haunting melody and, in unison, whispered, “She fell off the carousel.”

The final piece performed was “Voodoo” by Daniel Bukvich.

Meier prefaced this piece by notifying the audience that flashing lights and sudden, loud noises would be utilized.

The ensemble did not disappoint on either front, as white lights flashed haphazardly through the darkened theater and sudden shrieks were heard from the ensemble members during the climax of the piece.

Aside from this, the piece made the audience feel as if they were sitting in the middle of a Louisiana bayou complete with buzzing bugs and rustling wind, not to mention mystery.

Overall, the performance was very entertaining.

Each piece worked upon the next to create a haunting atmosphere that ultimately resulted in a very spooky experience overall.

It was perfect for the Halloween season.

If you enjoyed this performance, were unable to attend or just want to see the musical talent Mercyhurst has to offer, be sure to check out the D’Angelo Department of Music’s upcoming events.