Here's a recipe for classic Halloween fun: Take a dose of the Spokane Symphony Orchestra, add the score from Jaws, top it off with a conductor in a mummy suit, and you've got yourself Spokane's own Symfunnies Halloween Spooktacular.
The event, beginning at 3 pm on Sunday, offers an afternoon of hands-on fun for kids followed by a symphony performance geared toward youth.
"Symfunnies is the first introduction to classical music for many children," says Annie Matlow, marketing director for the Spokane Symphony. "It's light-hearted and made for the kids, but still offers first quality music by the same great symphony that plays on Friday and Saturday nights."
Directed by Fabio Costa, Richard Strauch and the "mystery mummy," the symphony will perform a variety of killer classics, including "Jaws," "The Funeral March," "Music of the Night" and "In the Hall of the Mountain King."
"The program is designed to help people better understand the orchestra," says John Hancock, executive director of the Spokane Symphony, "so that when they come to a symphony concert, they feel like they know what to do."
The pre-concert Fun Fair includes a costume parade set to the Cantina Band piece from Star Wars, a tour of the haunted backstage, an Instrument Petting Zoo and a chance to solve the mystery of the "Masked Musician." The Musical Petting Zoo will provide kids a hands-on chance to make music and experience an instrument.
"Kids can toot on, scrape on and play on a trombone, for example, to know what it really feels like to play an instrument," says Hancock. "It's hands-on education with fun musical subjects that help kids get closer to music and musicians."
Symfunnies, which began 20 years ago as the brainchild of Stefan Kozinski -- then-conductor of the Spokane Symphony -- has won a national award from the American Symphony Orchestra League.
"Kozinski was more than just a conductor," says Hancock. "He was a composer, a pianist and an all-around imaginative, creative guy." Kozinski, who coined the name Symfunnies, designed the musical program specifically for kids and their families as a set of concerts meant to be both educational and entertaining.
This year's Symfunnies falls in sync with the Halloween season. Among a variety of strange costumes and special guests (including a 350-pound jack-o-lantern), the symphony musicians will don costumes, conductors will dress according to the pieces they direct and a prize will be given to the best Harry Potter look-alike. Ronald McDonald will also make an appearance.
While costumes are not required, those attending the event should be ready to gear up for a spine-thrilling, ear-chilling tour of a haunted-but-happy Opera House.
"This concert appeals to people of all ages," says Matlow. "With all kinds of gimmicks, it's working at making the music fun, not scary."
& & & lt;i & The Symfunnies Halloween Spooktacular is Sunday, Oct. 29, at 4 pm in the Spokane Opera House. The pre-concert Fun Fair starts at 3 pm. Tickets: $6, kids; $9, adults; $25, for family of two adults and two kids. Call: 624-1200. & lt;/i & & lt;/center &