The University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s symphony is putting on its annual Halloween concert, free to UL Lafayette students, faculty and staff. The concert will be held on Oct. 26 at 7:00 p.m. in Angelle Hall Auditorium.
The UL Lafayette Symphony will be playing a variety of music, from a suite of music from the first ‘Lord of the Rings’ film, to Walter Murphy’s rendition of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. They’ll be joined by dancers and singer Natalie Connor. The orchestra will be wearing Halloween costumes, and they encourage the audience to do the same.
Michael Blaney, the director of orchestral activities and an instructor of violin, has been putting on this annual Halloween concert since he first started working at UL Lafayette in 1996.
“When I started here, there were not a whole lot of students involved in the orchestra. And I thought, hey, this would really be a fun show to kind of spark interest in the group, get hopefully more students involved, which it did. And get the community here, both the university community and Lafayette community, to come see us play a concert,” Blaney said.
Blaney shared that the symphony and collaborators will be putting on a fun show, with some comedic moments involved, though he didn’t want to give too much away. However, he hinted at a guest conductor for one of the pieces, though they might be difficult to see.
Blaney spoke further on the pieces the symphony would be playing, such as Gustav Holst’s “Mars from The Planets,” a challenging piece for the group, and a suite from the opera “Carmen” that audience members may recognize, even if they don’t know it by name.
The pieces for the concert change each year, often with completely new pieces.
“One great thing is that I’ve learned about new pieces of music that are appropriate for this concert, doing it so many years. And a lot of times, students have brought new pieces of music to my attention, which is great. It’s not just them learning from me, it’s me learning from them, it’s an exchange of ideas,” Blaney said.
The UL Lafayette Symphony has also grown over the years, allowing them to play larger pieces. Currently, there are 50 students involved, but they’re joined by community members and some high school students.
“It’s a mix of people, and I think that’s really neat, where’ve you got some aspiring young recruits that aren’t yet in college that play in the group, and then most of the time they end up continuing going to UL and playing in the group,” Blaney said. “And then we have people that have graduated, there are a couple orchestra members that have been here as long as me. They’ve graduated and they’re still playing in the group, which is great to see.”
One of the most rewarding things for Blaney as a teacher and conductor is watching the progress of the group, from their first rehearsal of music they may have never seen before to performing it live in front of a packed auditorium. He also gets the opportunity to watch these individual students grow over the course of their college careers.
“Getting to meet all these new people every year and to work with them is great, and to see students come in as freshman and progress over the years, and especially if they’re music majors to get to a level to be a professional and go out into the professional world. I mean, there’s nothing more rewarding as a teacher to see that happen,” Blaney said.
The concert will be free to UL Lafayette students, faculty and staff, and $10 for everyone else, with tickets being available on the night of the show.
Blaney closed by encouraging people to come out to the show, even if they may not think orchestral music is for them.
“There’s sometimes a stigma of classical music or orchestra concerts that this is a stuffy or boring affair. This is not that, this concert will give you a whole different perspective on orchestral music and attending a live concert, it’s a very fun show,” Blaney said. “It’s not super-long, it’ll be fast-paced, there’s going to be a lot of things going on stage, so I highly encourage you to check it out, and if you’ve got a Halloween costume it gives you another day to wear it.”