LIVINGSTON, NJ — The Livingston Symphony Orchestra is presenting a Halloween “Spooktacular” concert and film on Saturday, Oct. 27, at 7:30 p.m. at Mt. Pleasant Middle School Auditorium, 11 Broadlawn Drive, Livingston. The highlight of the evening is the showing of the 1931 Boris Karloff film “Frankenstein,” with the orchestra providing a live soundtrack.
The first performance in the orchestra’s 2018-2019 season, the concert features works from Dukas, Saint-Saens, Grieg and Michael Shapiro’s haunting score to the classic Boris Karloff “Frankenstein.”
First on the program is Paul Dukas’ symphonic poem “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” a work that gained widespread popularity from its use in Disney’s animated film “Fantasia” in 1940. The work, based on a poem by Goethe, illustrates the plight of the young apprentice when he attempts magic beyond his station. When the master leaves his workshop, the apprentice enchants a broomstick to perform his chore of fetching water — a theme represented by the bassoon — yet the magic works too well and the floor begins to flood with water. Unable to stop the broom with magic as he lacks the training, the apprentice resorts to smashing the broom apart in a frantic hail of blows but this only increases his troubles as a full broom sprouts from each broken piece. This army of brooms overwhelms the hapless apprentice, marching on and on, mirrored by a thunderously turbulent orchestra, continuing to flood the workshop until the master’s timely arrival to reverse the magic, represented by a powerful brass cadence.
Following that energetic tale, the orchestra will perform Camille Saint-Saens’ “Danse Macabre,” a haunting piece based on a French legend about Death appearing on Halloween at midnight. In the piece, there are several motifs meant to suggest actions or characters. For instance, the harp begins the piece with 12 repeated notes, meant to signify the tolling of the bell at midnight. This lets Death know the time for the dance has come, and death, emulated by the solo violin, obliges by waltzing around the graveyard, summoning the dead, inviting them to join. Slowly, the pace increases, becoming more frenzied and boisterous as they go, culminating in a frenetic whirlwind with no sign of stopping. But the arrival of the dawn and the rooster that announces it, played by the oboe, brings an end to the dance, sending the skeletons back to their rest for another year.
Next on the program is “In the Hall of the Mountain King” from the “Peer Gynt Suite,” by Edvard Grieg; originally written as incidental music for the 1867 play based on a Norwegian fairytale, this musical selection emulates the titular characters dream-like fantasy in the hall of the troll mountain king. The hall is full of goblins, trolls, the troll king and his family, with the theme coming in slowly and softly, as if they’re whispering to each other, gossiping about a human being in their hall. The dynamic level and tempo increases as the theme repeats, building and building into a frenzy that ends as suddenly as it began.
The finale of the concert will be a rare treat for all: the classic 1931 film “Frankenstein” in its entirety with the LSO playing the accompanying soundtrack; upon its original release, the film did not have an accompanying score, which changed in 2001 when this piece was composed by Michael Shapiro to accompany the film. The score is mood music in every sense of the word, composed to amplify the atmosphere of the film, adding suspense and gravitas to this classic film.
For more information on ticket prices and the evening in general, visit www.lsonj.org or call 973-980-1809.