By Adam Harris
The sounds of Halloween will fill Jones Concert Hall Thursday evening. The School of Music’s organ department will highlight its namesake instrument that has become associated with this time of the year.
This year’s performance marks the 23rd annual celebration of Halloween through the demonstration of one of the oldest continuously developing instruments in the music world. Dr. Isabelle Demers is the assistant professor of organ in the department and is coordinating the event.
“We picked pieces that are a little scary, and some of the other ones would be in a fantasy sort of atmosphere and something a little more surreal,” Demers said.
The concert will feature nine works and will display seven of the students’ work on the instrument. Demers will also play her own organ transcription as part of the Halloween event. Lancaster, Pa. graduate student Michael Groff will be one of the students highlighted in the performance.
“There are a lot of people performing, and it gives us a chance to show off a lot of the things we’re working on,” Groff said.
Groff said the organ is often synonymous with Halloween as he sat at the instrument to fill the concert hall with the classic sound of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D minor.”
Demers said songs like this have become a part of the Halloween tradition because of their prevalent use in pop culture. “I don’t think there is anything that is more Halloween about the organ than other instruments, but horror movies seem to have given it this feel,” Demers said.
Demers, who came to Baylor in August 2012, said the concert will be an opportunity to highlight an instrument with a diverse sound. She said the organ can be played with very little noise, or it can blow the audience out of the room with its volume.
“In some ways people really think of the organ as ‘Phantom of the Opera,’ and they wear capes and it’s Halloween music only,” Groff said. “Even though almost everything we’re playing is in the minor key, which is what people think is spooky, it’s still really, really beautiful music.”
Waco senior Katie Loudermilk, a senior from Waco, is another student who will be featured in the concert and will be playing a piece that features heavy use of the instrument’s pedals.
“I’m playing George Thalben-Ball’s ‘Variations on a Theme of Paganini for Pedals,’ and a lot of it’s just going to be only my feet playing,” Loudermilk said.
The concert will mark Loudermilk’s fifth performance in the annual concert.
“It’s always been fun,” she said. “Even though we switch professors, most things stay the same.”
She said the performers will all be wearing costumes, and the audience is invited to do the same.
The organ concert will be at 7:30 p.m Thursday in Glennis McCrary Music Building’s Jones Concert Hall. The concert is free to the public, and all are welcome to spend their Halloween listening to an instrument closely associated to the holiday.