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Halloween Organ Extravaganza brings spooky performances to UCA

The University Center for the Arts welcomed sold-out crowds to the Organ Recital Hall on Oct. 31 at 7 p.m., 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. for the performance’s eleventh year. Many patrons arrived in costumes for the event. The Organ Extravaganza boasted huge crowds and positive reactions in the past, and this year was no different.

The first performance by Jake Schick featured “Prelude and Fugue in D minor BWV 565” by Johann Sebastian Bach, starting off the night with a classical tune that kept the timing in the foot pedals of the organ, which produce a lower sound, and complex runs in the upper octaves. The piece also blasted sustained and sometimes discordant notes at the audience, creating the ultimate spirit of Halloween. Schick’s “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” costume also added to the festive mood.

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The second piece, performed by Sicong Zhou, presented syncopated notes in the lower octaves to keep time for the light and soft notes of the upper octave. “Salamanca” by Guy Bovet gave the audience a slower and more mellow piece after the intensity of the opening. Zhou’s bullfighter costume and short act before his performance further created a fun atmosphere in the hall.

Kieran Simske carefully placed his Snoopy stuffed animal on the bench next to him before performing “The Great Pumpkin Waltz” by Vince Guaraldi. Cartoons were projected onto the giant instrument as he played with a bouncing style and moved with the music. Simske also played his entire piece memorized.

Brynna Ashton began the fourth piece by walking on stage as a marionette puppet controlled by Emma Reece. The fitting piece, “Funeral March of a Marionette” by Charles Gounod and arranged by W.T. Best, possessed a spirited and steady tempo accompanied by a cartoon story projected onto the organ.

Wes Kenney and Joel Bacon then took the stage for a brief acting segment involving an assortment of music jokes. Kenney then suggested Bacon do something “fun,” and Bacon later took to the organ dressed as Justin Bieber for a performance of “Baby.” Kenney had a rap feature in the middle, and the official music video for the song played on the projection over the organ. The crowd reacted with roaring laughter and enthusiastic cheering.

Brynna Ashton and Emma Reece then returned to the organ for a performance of three Harry Potter pieces by John Williams, both of them seated on the bench. After a brief reenactment of “the Leviosa scene,” Ashton took to the piano to finish out the performance. Emma Reece sported a Hermoine costume to fit the theme.

Bacon then accompanied the silent film, “A Trip to the Moon,” as it played on a large screen onstage. Bacon watched to stay in sync, playing the 16-minute piece completely memorized. He also humorously commented that the 1902 film had “really cool special effects.”

For the final performance, Dale Nickell played “Introduction and Passacaglia in D Minor” by Max Reger, dressed as a farmer. The loud and full chords filled the entire hall before dropping out for lower notes to bridge the piece, and then the volume picked up again. The final chord of the concert rang out through the large room to leave the audience with an incredibly varied range of music, but more importantly, a huge dose of Halloween spirit.

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