Saturday’s second outing of the Charleston Symphony’s pops series delighted their modest Gaillard crowd with an assortment of sinister seasonal music, complete with the zany antics of an accomplished pair of mime artists.
But the concert’s first half remained fairly conventional, as the normally-attired musicians delivered a well-played array of spooky Broadway and film music.
They got going with evilly evocative highlights from Wicked, the popular musical, before moving on to The Phantom Regiment, a chilling little gem by Leroy Anderson. We were then treated to excerpts from Harry Gregson-Williams’ lush score to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, evoking both the movie’s expansive landscapes and moments of itchy evil. Then came tidbits of Bernard Herrmann’s classic music from Psycho, scored for strings only. The searing violin shrieks that attended the big murder scene reminded me why I often think twice before taking a shower.
Taking us to halftime were selections from the score to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by John Williams. The movie’s magical aura came to life under Scott Terrell’s bewitching baton. But the real fun didn’t begin until the program’s second half. Maggie Petersen and Douglas MacIntyre — the two skilled (and wacky) mimes of the Magic Circle Company — appeared onstage to warm up the crowd for the grand entrance of an “orchestra of the undead.”
The musicians, costumed to the hilt, slowly staggered and lurched their way on stage from the Gaillard’s side entrances, heavily hamming it up as they went. Terrell — the vampire maestro — presently joined them, keeping his snarling, unruly players under precarious control with his “magic baton.”
The hilarious slapstick piled up fast as our artists took us through four supernatural classics, beginning with Zoltan Kodaly’s quirky Ballet Music 1925. Leopold Stokowski’s wondrous arrangement of J.S. Bach’s Little Fugue in G (originally for organ) provided shivery sonic support.
The final two numbers were Paul Dukas’ The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Modest Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain. The laughter mounted as MacIntyre somehow managed to filch Terrell’s baton and control the ghoulish orchestra for awhile before the maestro returned to banish him.
Everybody had a ball.
It was the best Halloween howler I’ve yet seen. —Lindsay Koob