Review: “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” Live in Concert at Royal Festival Hall
On September 17, 2019, as part of the Harry Potter Film Concert Series, the Czech National Symphony Orchestra performed the entire score of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone live at the Royal Festival Hall in London. As part of an international tour, Sorcerer’s Stone in concert promised and delivered a magical and spell-binding experience for fans and music lovers alike.
Seated in the front row, we were greeted by our wonderful, charismatic conductor, Timothy Henty, who led the audience, as well as the orchestra, energetically and powerfully throughout the duration of the film. Even though we had listened to the film’s soundtrack countless times, nothing prepared us for the beauty of the opening notes. “Hedwig’s Theme,” one of the most stand-out musical pieces from the films, gave us a huge feeling of nostalgia and emotion as the live orchestra transported us back to Hogwarts.
Henty first spoke to the audience and encouraged us to cheer and make noise for our favorite characters when we saw them on-screen, and the audience definitely obliged. The interactive experience added to the magical atmosphere, and we loved seeing fans from all walks of life sharing their love of Potter. Henty was so energetic and happy to be performing, which enlivened the audience. You could see his passion shining through. It was a remarkable moment watching all the violins move together in harmony. At no point did Henty falter within his enthusiasm, delivering with such passion for John Williams’ iconic score. From the moment he stepped onto the podium and asked for the audience’s favorite Houses, we knew that we were in safe hands.
More than one set of eyes is definitely needed when trying to focus on the film playing on the screen in front of you while studying the 69-piece orchestra’s impeccable timing and precision. Their sheer technique and talent kept the audience captivated throughout the entire show, giving us a heightened experience of the soundtrack. We even noticed sounds we’d never heard in the films before because of the enhanced experience of hearing the orchestra play.
Listening to the live orchestra made a lot of the action-packed scenes more intense: The game of wizard chess was especially dramatic. Another great scene was the Quidditch match: The combination of the music with the game truly sucked us in, and we lived and breathed every Quaffle throw. It felt like we were really there, cheering for our Houses.
The orchestra received a standing ovation at the end, which was truly deserved for the talent and passion that was poured into this concert for many fans to witness and enjoy. During the round of applause, the audience raised the roof with their cheers and raucous clapping, whooping and cheering as loudly as they could. An elderly couple – who was seated next to us during the second half – was the first to stand on their feet and easily had some of the loudest voices there, exclaiming that the music was “pure magic.”
For those who are attending or planning to attend a Harry Potter film in concert, you won’t be disappointed. The concerts are truly magical for everyone and will keep you enchanted throughout the evening, enhancing the way you experience the films.
The Harry Potter Film Concert Series continues to tour Britain, with upcoming dates in Wales, Bath, and Bournemouth.