In the late hours of Hallow’s Eve a timpani could have been heard outside of Shilling Hall. Beckoning luring souls in for a couple hours of amusement. On Halloween night and the day after, Millikin’s percussion ensemble orchestrated three performances. Filling Millikin students and Decatur residents alike with terror and cheer.
The wall and stage of Albert Taylor Theater were lined with cobwebs, skeletons, and pumpkins galore. To add to the spectacle, a slideshow was played on loop depicting advertisements and Halloween themed jokes to keep the audience entertained while waiting for the concert to begin. Adding the occasional singing children, and creaky door, the atmosphere screamed spooky times were about to come.
From beginning to end, the percussionist left the audience visually and audibly entertained.
At the beginning of the performance zombies, screaming, and terrified faces were played as each musician entered in their costume for the night.
In short interludes between the musical pieces, short shows or skits were performed for the audience. One skit paid tribute to Terry Gilliam’s and Terry Jones’s, “Monty Python and The Holy Grail.” Complete with a knight answering riddles and puzzles as his trusty squire and horse followed behind.
Another favorite was the “Rail Girl” ghost story told throughout the show, in pre-filmed videos the story tells of a girl who haunts the Percussion House, the building across from New Hall 4 and Weck Hall.
It is said that students must leave three pieces of candy for her before each performance otherwise, something will go wrong during the show.
Music of the night was mostly percussion, with a few unique branches into new styles. The more distinct compositions included Basketballs, Starbucks coffee cups, and a light show.
The Lightshow was the first of the three, that set itself apart from the rest of the show. It included around fifteen varying Halloween light-up decorations, that were controlled by the percussion students during the performance.
The ensemble played visually with the composition having the notes be light coming from the decorations. The only sound that could be heard was the switches that clicked between on and off for the entire performance.
This was a visually stunning masterpiece that was well prepped and a privilege to witness.
The composition played by the ensemble included tones that soothed and shook the audience. It was spell-binding to hear such incantations to mimic the fright filled heist produced on Halloween, mixed so fluidly with the smooth beats of the exceptional percussion to produce the perfect soundtrack for the night of, and after, Halloween.
This was not the first night of magnificent on the percussions end, the reputation of Millikin’s musicians reaches soaring heights. At the performance Millikin was entrusted to perform the world premiere of composer Zack Brownings, “Moon Venus.” The performance was immaculate and I hope to hear the song played again in continuing years.
The finale of the concert was stunning, utilizing the whole entity of the percussion ensemble to bring together their musicians, skits, and audience into one big jubilee. In full costume, the percussionist played while actors released beach balls into the audience to be battered around during the performance. The song was light-hearted and felt as though it lit a warm, welcoming fire in the hearts of those listening.
The Halloween percussion concert was a major success, and if anyone was unable to attend or had prior engagements, I would suggest making plans to watch next year’s performance.
The show is for anyone and everyone, and as for most Millikin related events, it is a chance to bring not only Millikin students but the entire Decatur community a little closer together. The percussion concert is a perfect way to spend Halloween, or kick off the start of the festivities, and as the years progress the show will continue to triumph.