Review: Harry Potter Film Concert Series – “Sorcerer’s Stone”
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I got the opportunity to attend the Harry Potter Film Concert Series at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts on September 17. I knew what would be happening in principle. There would be a big screen showing the movie with dialogue, and there would be a live orchestra playing the score to accompany it. But it was so much more than that in reality.
Before going into the concert hall, I purchased a Ravenclaw scarf from the merch table they had set up there. It’s lucky we got there early since they were swamped with customers just a few minutes later. I took a few photos and did some people-watching. One woman’s tee in particular caught my eye, and I just had to share my enthusiasm with her and snap a photo.
When we finally decided to walk into the hall, I realized that a pre-show was playing on the big screen and kicked myself for not being there to watch all of it! It contained interviews with John Williams, David Heyman, Chris Columbus, and more. The part of it that I caught was quite fascinating. So pro tip: Get to the theater early!
And then it was time for the show. First of all, the conductor, Jeffrey Schindler, brought so much more to the performance than a measly baton. He let the audience know that this was not a performance to watch silently. It was one to actively take part in! He let us scream for our Houses to get us in the spirit and then cued the North Carolina Symphony Orchestra to begin.
I was not prepared. I’d forgotten that the first movie opens differently than the rest. Unlike the following films in the series, which soar through the sky to reveal the Warner Bros. logo, Sorcerer’s Stone begins by flying over the studio lot in an array of gold before the logo takes shape. And I’d forgotten that the music begins there and is very short in comparison, with the movie starting just afterward. And they played every note! The quick runs leading into the shortened version of “Hedwig’s Theme” burst out of the violins, and I threw my hands over my mouth as I gasped. My husband laughed as happy tears filled my eyes, and I realized this was going to be something entirely unique. There was quiet for a moment, and then the chimes that accompany the sign for Privet Drive began. I gasped again and was inwardly freaking out as the owl flew into the night and Dumbledore appeared.
As the movie progressed, the members of the audience cheered when their favorite characters appeared on screen, booed when the bad guys showed up and laughed at all the appropriate moments. It was such a wonderful feeling to be surrounded by so many who love this movie as much as I do. After a time, I often found myself forgetting that a live orchestra was playing the music. They were that spot on! The scenes where I noticed them the most were quiet moments of dialogue where the music is typically so quiet that you hardly notice it’s there. Thankfully, they played it louder than normal, so I could hear and appreciate every measure.
I have always found the music for Sorcerer’s Stone to be moving. This movie was my gateway to the wizarding world and will always hold a special place in my heart for that reason. But hearing the score live was even more breathtaking than I ever anticipated. When the film ended, the cheering rose anew. As actors’ names flashed across the end credits, fans screamed for their favorites. And when the credits were over, there was a standing ovation and raucous applause from the audience for the conductor and every section of the orchestra.
Therefore, my advice to any Harry Potter fan who loves the films is to go to as many of these performances as possible. I sincerely hope that I can attend all eight movies receiving this epic treatment. The music alone is reason enough to attend, but the atmosphere of watching the films with screaming, adoring fans is truly something to behold.