Halloween, the often forgotten about holiday in the handbell community. With all the hustle and bustle to get music for the Christmas holiday season ready, many bell groups opt to forgo any concerts in October. For the adventurous group that decides to go for a Halloween concert, they are faced with a challenge harder than preparing for holiday concerts in one month; finding music to perform. None of the major publishers have Halloween music in their search section, so directors must be creative when programming for the scariest of holidays.
But fear not, the Handbell Brothers’ Blog is here to help! After consulting with many handbell friends we’ve compiled this list of ideas for Halloween concert pieces.
“Triple Threat” by Kathleen Wissinger. A triplet etude that also makes a ghoulish waltz.
“Funeral March of a Marionette” arranged by Anne Pearce. The arrangement is for flute trio and 3 octaves of bells, perfect for all the flute player in your group.
“La Cathedral Engloutie” by Claude Debussy, arranged by Kevin McChesney. This piece is difficult, but the final effect is vast and haunting like a massive old cathedral.
“In the Hall of the Mountain King” by Edvard Grieg, arranged by Martha Lynn Thompson or Michael Keller or Michele Mason. Even though this piece is over played, as seen by the number of arrangers, it’s overplayed for good reason. This piece is always a crowd pleaser and a workout for the musicians.
“Phantom of the Opera” by Andrew Loyd Webber, arranged by Douglas E. Wagner. A great excuse for your ringers to wear their favorite mask.
“Sorcerer’s Apprentice” by Paul Dukas, arranged by James Christensen. Made famous by Disney, every crowd is sure to recognize and enjoy this piece.
“Danse Macabre” by Camille Saint-Saens, arranged by Michael Keller. This beautiful dance about Death is sure to send a chill up your spin.
“Nightnoise” by Sondra Tucker. Written for two ensembles, chimes, and Petit and Fritsen bells. If anyone has a recording of this I’d love to hear it, but it looks fantastic.
“Adams Family Theme” arranged by Brian Childers. While I despise any song that tries to use “Surprise Symphony” creatively, the rest of the piece is a great arrangement of this classic tune.
“Dies Irae” arranged by Michael Glasgow. This somber arrangement for bells and oboe with optional cello and chimes would contrast well with other more well know Halloween tunes.
A big thanks to Jen Hayes and Bell Appeal for sharing with us their Halloween program they did in 2010. In the comments below let us know what pieces we’ve missed.
Cover Photo: Sonos Handbell Ensemble performing “Toccata and Fugue” on YouTube.