Salem Symphonic Winds focuses on fun and accessibility as season kicks off Saturday

Salem Symphonic Winds has orchestrated a ghostly opening to its 48th season, with a “Magical Tales” concert accompanied by haunted tales.

The concert features two pieces narrated by local performers: The Legend of La Llorona by Larry Harrington and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by James Stephenson.

The Oct. 22 performance will be narrated in Spanish, and the Oct. 23 in English.

Music director John Skelton said the shows are part of a larger goal to make the symphony more enjoyable for people of different generations and backgrounds.

“All of the pieces are pieces that are significant musically, and also based on children’s literature,” he said. “We’re really wanting to reach out to a more diverse audience and have it be accessible.”

Paz García and Arturo Sarmiento Linares will narrate the Spanish show. García is an actress and producer who hosts Mano a Mano Contigo on Radio Poder, where Sarmiento Linares is the director.

The show will premiere a new arrangement of La Llorona, adapted from traditional Mexican folk music.

“We took one of the children’s stories that was in print and adapted that, and then Larry Harrington wrote background music,” Skelton said. “So it’ll be brand new, and certainly the first time anyone will have heard that.”

Jeff Witt, a vocalist who teaches theater and choir at Central High School in Independence, will narrate the Oct. 23 show in English.

The shows will also include music by John Williams from “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” and “Superman.”

They will also play “A Symphony of Fables” by Julie Giroux, inspired by folk tales such as The Hare and the Tortoise and The Three Billy Goats Gruff.

While researching for Johan de Meij’s arrangement of “The Wind in the Willows,” Skelton bought a newer edition of the book and was struck by the illustrations. He reached out to the Australian artist, Robert Ingpen, who agreed to have his work projected during the show.

“For the players, I’ve had many people in the band telling me how much they’re enjoying this literature. That it’s just fun music for them to play, and also to reach for the expression in it,” Skelton said.

He said future shows this season will be more dramatic, with themes ranging from Earth Day to the Battle of Culloden.

Half-price tickets are available for this week’s show using the promo code “MAGIC.”

The season’s concerts will be at the new Rose Auditorium at South Salem High School. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit or call 503-362-0485.

Contact reporter Abbey McDonald: [email protected] or 503-704-0355.

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Abbey McDonald joined the Salem Reporter in 2022. She previously worked as the business reporter at The Astorian, where she covered labor issues, health care and social services. A University of Oregon grad, she has also reported for the Malheur Enterprise, The News-Review and Willamette Week.