Witches dancing to honor Satan and his demons in the dark mountains. A sorcerer commanding an endless parade of brooms and pails of water. Skeletons prancing with clanking bones as Death fiddles.
And that was just the music.
At the Halloween Family Day Concert Sunday at Colden Center at Queens College, the Queens Symphony Orchestra did more than play well-executed renditions of "Danse Macabre," "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," and other selections conjuring up images of ghosts, monsters and witches.
It also presented some of these creatures on stage. All the musicians were dressed up as some form or another of the undead, and Margaret Steele (who also co-wrote the afternoon's script with Edwin Bordo) was first an evil, ugly witch, then changed into a beautiful magician later in the afternoon. Frankenstein and other monsters judged the children's costume contest, and QSO Music Director and Conductor Arthur Fagen, with his cape and an undiscernible made-up face, looked more like someone from "The Phantom of the Opera" than from the orchestra of Queens.
"I think this is a great way to get young people interested in classical music," Fagen said in his dressing room as he changed back into a human and prepared to leave that evening on a European concert tour. With TV, computers, videos, and all manner of distractions coming at kids from all sides, it's increasingly difficult to get them interested in Tchaikovsky or Stravinsky, lamented Fagen, 49, but it's not impossible.
Fagen himself got hooked on the classics when he was 5, when his grandfather gave him a few 78 rpm records of some of the great symphonies, and he never turned back.
Today it would probably take more than symphony records (or CDs, for that matter) to get young people similarly enthused about the classics.
But Sunday was a good first step.
Reach Qguide Editor David Glenn by e-mail at glenn@time