Loyola organist blasts Halloween tunes
Posted by jordanberger on November 1, 2012
Loyola University Chicago students culminated Halloween 2012 celebrations with eerie melodies presented by Director of Liturgal Music for the Chapel, Steven Betancourt, during the witching hour of 11:59 p.m. to 1 a.m. Halloween night in Madonna della Strada Chapel.
Upon entering the Chapel, the organ resounded a spooky tune throughout a crowd of 150 students for the 5th annual Midnight Organ Blast.
The ghostly organ tunes were played by some of Loyola’s own, according to Betancourt.
“They’re all Loyola students,” Betancourt said. “They study with me in Music 283.”
After a chilling introductory piece, Betancourt accompanied the organ music with a demonstration of the organ’s workings.
The Katheryn “Kay” Stamm Memorial Organ that was played, the Goulding and Wood Opus 47, is made up of 3,747 pipes of handcrafted metal and wood. Three keyboards are played with the hands and a bottom keyboard is played with the feet.
The particular organ that was played has the capability of mimicking other instruments as well.
“The organ is a great imitator,” Betancourt said. “Sounds that mimic violins, violas and cellos are found on this particular instrument.”
The student organ players demonstrated the organ’s imitation sounds, including the sounds of oboes, flutes, and the German trumpet, which is found on the middle keyboard.
Betancourt then explained the use of “principle stops,” which most people identify as a traditional organ sound.
“These stops are a combination of flute and string sounds,” Betancourt said. “They are one of the more popular things we use in singing with worship on Sundays.”
The organ demonstration concluded with a performance of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing,” a short departure from spooky sounds. A more chilling toccata followed.
Emily Hankinson, 20, a junior elementary education major, thought the event’s aesthetics were impressive.
“I feel like I really entered into Harry Potter with all of the wands and the costumes,” she said. “[Betancourt’s] Dracula costume was also really good.”
Tanna Solberg, 20, a junior environmental science major at Loyola, also expressed positive remarks about the midnight organ show.
“I really enjoyed going to the event,” Solberg said. “I thought that the students who played did a really great job.”
Betancourt said afterwards that he was pleased with the event turnout.
“It’s always tough because it’s Halloween and midnight, but I thought we had a good crowd,” Betancourt said.
The Chapel already looks forward to hosting next year’s midnight organ performance.
“We change it up a little every year and do some new stuff,” Betancourt said. “We’re talking about maybe doing a silent movie next year; we never like to do the same things twice.”