Monster concerts: BJSO pairs songs with screams for Halloween performance

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Ashley McCallum
Wednesday, October 11, 2017

JANESVILLE—Beloit Janesville Symphony Orchestra Executive Director Edie Baran considers the orchestra’s upcoming Halloween concert as the ideal performance for anyone who has never been to the symphony before.

Why? Because the show will not only feature a live musical performance, but a visually engaging component, as well.

More than 50 professional musicians will perform the score to the 1931 film, “Frankenstein,” composed by Michael Shapiro, said Rob Tomaro, music director and conductor for the BJSO. The musical performance will be synchronized with the film, which will be projected above the orchestra.

Baran said the combined symphony and film performance is great for first-time symphony viewers because it’s fun and far from the stereotype of a standard symphony performance. Tomaro agrees.

“People find themselves so engrossed in the film, that they literally forget there’s a live orchestra playing. That’s my favorite compliment,” Tomaro said. “The live music has this magic way of just transporting you into the atmosphere, and it’s a lot of fun.”

“Frankenstein” was produced in the early years of film, when technology couldn’t support both music and dialogue soundtracks, Tomaro said. Shapiro created the score in 2001 to play under the dialogue during the film.

This is not the orchestra’s first time performing in tandem with film, Baran said. Last year’s Halloween concert featured music played alongside other famous horror movies such as “Psycho” and “Poltergeist.”

The show went over well with the audience, so the orchestra’s  directors decided to expand the film component to be a full-length movie, Baran said.

The BJSO will collaborate with the Beloit International Film Festival for technical help with the show, something Baran is “thrilled about,” she said. Greg Gerard, events manager for the film festival, will serve as the technical director for the orchestra.

Adding to the fun of the concert, Baran encourages audience members and musicians to come dressed in costume. A contest will be held, and orchestra musicians will choose the three best costumes as winners.

The Halloween concert is an opportunity for families and young people to be introduced to the symphony in a “party environment,”

Baran said. She said she is always looking for new ways to appeal to younger generations that are usually less represented at such concerts.

Tomaro said audience energy and interaction has great influence on the performance. Baran echoed those sentiments.

“No matter how much you rehearse anything, when you are seeing a live performance, you are seeing those performers create right in front of you,” she said. “It’s something you can’t see, but you can definitely feel that creative energy. The audience is a huge part of that creative energy.”

A live musical performance can raise emotions people often don’t expect, Tomaro said. The sounds produced live cannot be replicated onto a disc or mp3 file.

“People are taken by surprise by the emotions that come,” he said. “It’s an entirely personal experience. What you’re feeling is going to be different than the person sitting next to you because the music is going on inside you.”

BJSO is celebrating its 64th season as southern Wisconsin’s sole professional, regional orchestra, Tomaro said.

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