Chapel again offers haunted evening Halloween: Last year's spook-filled Naval Academy Halloween concert was so successful that a bigger version with more surprises will be presented tomorrow.

October 29, 1998|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The huge nave of the Naval Academy chapel was shrouded in fog and bathed in a ghoulish purple haze. Explosions of sound from the chapel's Rogers organ broke the silence.

Four singing apparitions appeared, belting out Andrew Lloyd Webber's ominous tango "Phantom of the Opera" from the uncharted reaches of the structure's dome.

Had "The Phantom" left the opera and come to haunt Annapolis?

Not exactly. It was a Halloween concert last year at the Naval Academy with spooky effects and the musical talents of Monte Maxwell, the Juilliard-trained Texan now in his second year as chapel organist. It was a tradition-setter if ever there was one.

With his Dracula-like costume and commanding mastery of such classics as J. S. Bach's arresting Toccata and Fugue in D minor and the organ transcription of Samuel Barber's otherworldly "Adagio for Strings," Maxwell did for Halloween in 1997 what the academy glee club's annual "Messiah" performances do for Christmas: He created an Annapolis institution that gives the holiday a distinctive local touch.

The tradition continues at 8 p.m. tomorrow, when this year's concert begins. The doors of the chapel open at 7: 30 p.m.

The concert will be an even bigger production than last year.

"Last time, there were probably 20 or so midshipmen involved in setting up the special effects," Maxwell said. "This year, there are more than 40."

Such extra effort can't help but translate into more spookiness. "We'll have surprises all over the building, but I can't tell anyone about them, of course," Maxwell said with a laugh. "It's going to be lots of fun."

This year's program will include an expanded roster of singers performing hits from "Les Miserables" as well as "Phantom." Many highlights from last year's concert will be reprised, by popular demand.

"I was surprised and pleased by the intensity with which our listeners made their requests to repeat some of the pieces," Maxwell said. "People really wanted to hear them again."

Pub Date: 10/29/98

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