By Rachel Alflatt
The RCCO Vancouver Centre’s 14th annual Halloween Concert took place on October 25, and was again very successful, attracting an audience of more than 150 people. We had a new venue this year, due to St. Andrew’s Wesley being closed for renovations and seismic upgrades. St. John’s Shaughnessy Anglican Church, where RCCO Vancouver Centre vice-president Michael Dirk is music director, gave us a warm and much appreciated welcome, with assistant rector Reverend Elizabeth Ruder-Celiz attending the concert and greeting the audience during the opening remarks. Michael Dirk (Count Dirkula!) was this year’s MC, providing a smooth transition between performers with interesting and quirky facts, corny jokes, and seasonal poems (the latter written by Sam Balden).
In an atmosphere made spooky by disco dance party lights (the kind which respond and move to music!) in the organ chamber, and a fog machine next to the horizontal trumpet in the back gallery, Michael Dirk started the concert with a fiery interpretation of the Bach BWV 565, aided and abetted by Michael Molnar hidden on the gallery organ, so it sounded as if Dirk was playing a duet with a ghost! Then followed Angelique Po (Mendelssohn’s Prelude in C minor), Tamar Genossar (Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in E minor, BWV 533), Huiyuan Cindy Ma, (Grieg’s Death of Ase and In the Hall of the Mountain King, from Peer Gynt), Sandra Bower (Chopin’s Marche funèbre from the Piano Sonata No. 2), John Pals in his own arrangement of Stéphane Delplace’s Prelude and Fugue on a Theme by Henry Mancini, Susan Ohannesian (Berlioz’s March to the Scaffold from the Symphonie fantastique), Michael Molnar in Rheinberger’s little-known, but perfect for Halloween, Scherzoso from Sonata No. 8 and Witches’ Dance by Theodore Kullak, and John Mitchell rounding off the concert with Boëllmann’s Introduction-Choral and Toccata.
Performers at the Halloween Concert. Left to right: Michael Dirk, Angelique Po, John Mitchell, Susan Ohannesian, Sandra Bower, Michael Molnar, John Pals, Tamar Genossar, Huiyuan (Cindy) Ma.
Michael Dirk provided an encore, his own arrangement of the Phantom of the Opera theme with a surprise twist, real drums and cymbals played from a hidden corner by his wife, percussionist Annabelle Dirk. This flowed seamlessly into the Flight of the Bumblebee on the organ pedals, easily visible to the audience on a screen at the front of the church. Halloween candy was handed out to everyone on their way out of the church and the audience left satisfied in every way!
Many thanks to the church and staff of St. John’s Shaughnessy, organizers Michael Dirk and Angelique Po, the performers, and all those who helped in any way to make this event a resounding success.