News & Views Monday, September 01, 2014

Haunting New Titles for Concert Band Monday, September 10, 2012

Halloween is a fun fall holiday, and if you’re programming a Halloween band concert, or just looking for an eerie, spooktacular piece to spice up your fall program, there is a graveyard worth of new spirits perfect to haunt your auditorium – some with ghost stories included!

Ghost Ship – Michael Story – Grade 1
The merchant ship Mary Celeste set sail from New York City in early November of 1872, bound for Genoa, Italy, never reaching its destination.  To this day, no one knows why. This original composition will fill your beginners’ imaginations with some chilling effects, and add a mysterious story to your program.


Ghost Band
– Robert W. Smith – Grade 2
What happens when the lights go out and the ghosts of musicians past come out to play?  Beginning with a dark and mysterious introduction featuring vocal effects, the Ghost Band begins a driving bass line leading to a delightfully haunting melody. They even enjoy a ghoulish waltz before returning to the final statement.  Have your band ‘in character’ – this arrangement includes optional costumes and sound effects.

Ghost Dancing – Brant Karrick – Grade 2
Your students will absolutely love playing this intense modern work!  Full of dark sounds, tone clusters, angular melodies, clashing harmonies, and jagged rhythmic interjections this work takes programmatic music to the edge – think Danny Elfman’s quirkiness meets Night on Bald Mountain with a taste of Charles Ives’ polytonality for good measure. Sure to amaze and impress your audience (they may wonder what happened), this creative work will be too much fun!!

The Old Castle (Pictures at an Exhibition) – Moussorgsky/arr. Robert W. Smith – Grade 2.5
One of the coolest sounding pieces of classical music, your students will love playing this gorgeous, mature-sounding selection. Opening with a trumpet and trombone statement of the stately Promenade, the work moves into a faithful arrangement of the haunting original complete with its eerie colors and textures, incessant ‘heartbeat’ and 3/4 motion.

Band-O-Ween – arr. Patrick Roszell – Grade 3
Despite its light (and cheesy) title, this work incorporates several well-known classical pieces associated with the macabre and creepy: Toccata and Fugue in D minor (J.S. Bach), Night on Bald Mountain (Modeste Moussorgsky), Funeral March of a Marionette (Charles Gounod), and In the Hall of the Mountain King (Edvard Grieg).

La Tregenda (Witches’ Dance from Le Villi) – Puccini/arr. Brian Beck – Grade 3
According to the legend of Le Villi, when a woman dies of a broken heart, the fairies disguised as beautiful women cast a spell over the heart breaker and force him to dance until death.  This dramatic arrangement of the intermezzo from opera master Giocomo Puccini’s Le Villi depicts the evildoings of the ghost maidens deserted by their lovers.

Procession of the Sorcerers – Robert Buckley – Grade 3
Imagine a colorful procession of magical and mythical creatures – wizards and witches; jesters and jugglers; magicians and minstrels; gargoyles and goblins – brightly decorated wagons drawn by unicorns, stilt walkers, and acrobats on unicycles in a stately procession toward Merlin’s enchanted castle! Unique and descriptive, the optional choral parts (or synthesizer) really complete the mysterious character of this work.

Vampires in the Attic – Joseph Eidson – Grade 3
So you want to play in the attic?  Drop the ladder and climb – the slow beginning sets a creepy atmosphere as the dark recesses of the attic are explored. The pace increases and the trumpet section is featured as vampires are chased around the attic, ending with the vampires returning to their hiding spots before slowing to an eerie conclusion.

Although they aren’t new, we also happily suggest two grade 3 movie arrangements featuring the off-beat quirkiness of composer Danny Elfman – Music for a Darkened Theatre featuring themes from Tales from the Crypt, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Edward Scissorhands, Beetlejuice, and Spider-Man, and his sinister score to the Tim Burton classic The Nightmare Before Christmas.  Happy Haunting!

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