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Spooks, Treats and Musical Thrills at Halloween Symphony

Dec 08, 2015 12:28PM ● By Bryan Scott

By Mylinda LeGrande

West Jordan - On Oct. 30, the West Jordan Symphony performed their annual Halloween concert in an audience-packed auditorium at the Viridian Library.  There were so many people in attendance that they spilled out into the hall, sitting on extra chairs provided by the library.

The successful performance was enjoyed by both the musicians and audience members.  Songs included a special number, “Halloween 2015 Spooky Stratosphere,” arranged by Dana Bentley.  Along with symphony members, elementary students directed by Dana Bentley, Bonnie Heaton and Mele Morgan also performed this selection.  These students were from Copper Canyon, Hayden Peak, Oakcrest, Fox Hollow, Midas Creek and Quail Hollow Elementary Schools.  

It was a delightful number and the audience members were surprised and thrilled with periodic screeches that percussion member Henry Clarence injected into the song.  Other songs played during the concert were “Phantom of the Opera” Sections (Andrew Lloyd Webber, arr. Custer), “Frozen” Selections (Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, arr. Krogstad), “Pirates of the Caribbean” (Klaus Badelt, arr. Ricketts) and others.

Not counting the guest elementary school students, there are 50 or so regular members of the city orchestra under the direction of musical director Larry M. White. 

“We’ve invested 12 years [into this organization.] We do this Halloween concert in addition to a Christmas program and the Messiah Sing-a-long.  The Christmas concert is put on by the West Jordan Arts Council and combines the band and orchestra members and is held at the Viridian Library.  The sing-a-long is at City Hall the Sunday before Christmas.  These musicians have played in college or somewhere that have also wanted to keep playing. They have expressed an interest.  We are a community orchestra,” White said. 

Dana Bentley first organized the city band and orchestra in 1984.   She is not only a member of the symphony and plays the violin, but she also directs elementary school students in a before- and after-school music program. 

“It is our third year.  I teach the kids at Midas Creek and Hayden Peak,” she said, referring to the students’ involvement with playing with the city symphony.

The city helps fund the orchestra through various sources such as ZAP, The Utah Division of Arts & Museums, Art Works and the National Endowment for the Arts.  Anyone can join but has to have enough experience to play to the level of music that the orchestra performs.  The youngest members are in high school and the oldest are grandparents. The money is obtained by the city from various funding sources, which pays for their sheet music. The members of the orchestra are unpaid volunteers.  They meet weekly at the old West Jordan Library from 9-11 a.m. on Saturday mornings.

Several musicians dressed up in costume as well as a skeleton, named “Bones,” festively dressed in Hawaiian clothing and sunglasses.  He was staged behind a snare drum to add to the spooky atmosphere.  Kevin Johnson was dressed up as the Phantom of the Opera and plays the melaphone.  He has been with the symphony for 13 years. 

“It’s been fun.  [The symphony] has a lot of heart.  Larry is a lot of fun to work with. He makes you want to play better.  He is a great asset to the city,” he said. 

When asked about the elementary students playing with the symphony, Johnson recognized how the children interact with the group.

“The kids are really great because they see what you can do.  Very few of us are professional musicians.  By in large, we are a bunch of people who just want to play music,” he said.

Another symphony member, Kurt Skill, is first French horn.  He spoke on how he became involved in the city music program.  

“I have kids now and have stopped playing.  I had my instrument just sitting there.  I thought it was time to get involved and found the orchestra.  It was nice to get back into it and be part of something again,” he said.

After the concert, kids in attendance enjoyed trick-or-treating to the members of the symphony out in the hall, where they got to meet the talented musicians and accumulate a nice assortment of Halloween treats.