By Crystal Hayduk
The annual Chelsea Halloween costume concert still delivers mystery and merriment under the leadership of the new high school orchestra director, Phillip Sylvester.
The 7th through 12th grade concert took place on Oct. 29 for a near capacity audience at Chelsea High School.
The special entrance of several concert orchestra students dressed as Avengers culminated in the director’s surprise costume reveal, a time-honored tradition that Sylvester’s predecessor, Jed Fritzemeier, had begun more than three decades ago.
Delighting his students and spectators, Sylvester dashed onto the stage as Captain America. He conducted the string orchestra, trumpets, and percussion in an exhilarating opening performance of Sylvester’s own arrangement of “Marvel’s Avengers Suite.”
Freshman violinist Caitlin White loves the music. “I actually never watched ‘The Avengers’ before, but now I want to see the movies,” she said.
Dressed as Scooby Doo, Nathan Peters, the middle school orchestra teacher, directed both the seventh- and eighth-grade orchestras. Seventh-grader Luke Mourad, a cellist, was excited to play in his first Halloween concert after attending two previous events for his older brother.
Prior to the concert, he said, “I’m looking forward to all the costumes and the general atmosphere. We’re ready for ‘Wiley Waltz,’ where the cellos get to play some of the melody.”
Charlotte Diesing, a viola player in eighth grade, said her favorite aspects of the annual concert are the humorous skits and hearing students in other grades perform.
Due to fire code rules regarding crowd density, sixth grade orchestra students have performed their traditional Halloween poem piece in class for the last several years instead of at the high school. Peters provides a link so that families can watch a recording of their students online. He and Sylvester said they hope to show the recording at the concert in future years so everyone can enjoy the comic musical reading.
The high school symphony orchestra returned to the stage following the younger students’ performances. Sylvester, this time in a tuxedo, conducted three movements of Warlock’s “Capriol Suite.”
The program finale, performed by the full orchestra, was the iconic masterpiece by Saint-Saëns, “Danse Macabre.” Concertmaster Tom Kennings, a senior, played the violin solo parts.
Kennings said the musicians were sad last spring when Fritzemeier, a much-loved teacher, retired; and were concerned about the string program’s future. But the students and their new teacher are quickly building rapport and working well together.
“The school district administrators have chosen an excellent new director in Mr. Sylvester. We’re working hard and having a great time learning this year,” said Kennings. “Things are going really well—in school and with Chelsea House Orchestra. Mr. Sylvester’s definitely got the heart for this.”
“I’m ecstatic to start off the year with all the orchestra students with a concert in this exciting setting,” said Sylvester. “The music is fun and the costumes are hysterical.
“I’d also like to thank the Chelsea community for their support,” he said. “It’s been a great eight weeks.”