Hollywood and Halloween Treats, October 30, 2011

October 31, 2011 at 11:07 pm | Posted in Concerts | Leave a comment

On the night of October 30, the Indiana Wind Symphony put on its annual Halloween concert, with band member and many audience members in costume. This year, the theme was “Hollywood & Halloween Treats.”

This is always one of my favorite concerts — part pops , part serious music, all fun. On the pops end was music from Toy Story 2, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Wicked, and Star Wars. On the more serious side was Donald Gillis’s January February March, Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld Overture (transcribed by Clark McAlister), Eric Whitacre’s Ghost Train, and a new piece from Butler University’s Composer-in-Residence Michael Schelle called The End of the World.

Most of those pieces have been played over and over by bands around the world; not so with Schelle’s The End of the World. The idea of this piece was inspired by the apocalyptic writings of Nostradamus and the whole end-of-the-Mayan-calendar thing due in December 2012. But the main inspiration came from something more unexpected: the tsunami that devastated Japan in March of this year.

The piece comprises three movements: The Exhausted Sun, Bullet Train from Hell, and After Afterlife. As you might imagine, the piece is tense and intense. Walls of sound like unstoppable waves crash over the audience. Unexpected eddies swirl and twist like rushing water, like solar flares, like time. It’s so intense that, if you think too much about what it represents, it might be too much to listen to.

But then, in the third movement, the dissonances slowly resolve to something calmer and more stable. The waves recede, and the sun pokes through. All around, the evidence of cataclysm and death is still apparent, but so is the sunlight, and hope. The piece ends with the singing of angels.

The End of the World is one of those pieces that you have to hear live, and if you get the opportunity, you should.


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