October 31, 2012     James Knapp

Happy Halloween!


     Halloween is filled with so many memories for me, and I continue to follow my favorite Halloween traditions as an adult— dressing up for Halloween, carving pumpkins, and making sure to have a bowl of candy around the house (much to my dentist’s dismay).  I even made popcorn balls this year while watching Nightmare on Elm Street! Halloween is one of my favorite holidays; it's the one day of the year that adults can be kids again and just let loose.

     Most of my memories center around around parties, music, horror films and crazy costumes.  I remember sitting around with  my mom in the dark listening to “spooky music”; the prelude to Psycho, The Phantom of the Opera and Berlioz’s March to the Scaffold from the Symphony Fantastique.  My mother especially loved organ music, so as the pumpkin glow of frightening faces were casting their spells upon us, we would listen to the scary organ pipes sounds of Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in B minor. I was petrified as a small boy, but loved it!

     Years later, when I was in the St Thomas Church— Bach’s old parish— in Leipzig with my concert choir on an international music tour, I heard this played on Bach’s organ. It was a dream come true and a moment that I will never forget. I was entranced, having a slide show of memories in my mind of Halloween scenes from my childhood. Here I was in Germany, conducting in Bach’s church and listening to one of my favorites of his keyboard pieces. What irreplaceable experiences we have on musical tours and overseas travel!

     I wish you all a very happy Halloween, and to go and celebrate. Pull out that CD of Disney’s Fantasia to watch and listen to the Philadelphia Orchestra play Dukas’ The Sorceror’s Apprentice as Mickey tries to save himself some work by brewing some magic! Spook yourself in the dark and play Moussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain, or maybe watch a couple of reruns of Twilight Zone or Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds?

Happy Haunting!

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