Harry Potter Live in Concert Revives the Magic of Hogwarts
If you’re a hardcore Harry Potter fan, then you’ve probably seen the movies several times by now – we’ve seen them in theatres, we bought the DVDs, we marathoned them when the final film came out, when Fantastic Beasts was released or even just for fun with our fellow fans. So as both a film and music lover it was incredibly refreshing to find a new way to enjoy this series that we hold so dear.
I had the pleasure of seeing Star Trek Live in Concert at the Sony Centre a couple of years ago, so I’ll admit I was worried that this performance would have a hard time living up to my first live orchestra film experience. But I can safely say that this show felt entirely different.
While taking our seats, the audience was treated to a pre-show featurette about how the music of Harry Potter came to be, featuring interviews from composer John Williams himself. When the orchestra arrived on stage, conductor Justin Freer immediately got the crowd going by having us cheer for each of our Hogwarts Houses, and although I’m a proud Slytherin I think Hufflepuff surprised us with the loudest cheers of all. Each House was well represented at the show though: Gryffindors dressed in red and yellow, Slytherins sporting green ties and scarves, we even spied a Hogwarts student in a Ravenclaw cardigan on our way to the show.
The Toronto Symphony Orchestra – accompanied by the Women’s Chorus from Amadeus Choir and the Elmer Iseler Singers – gave a seamless performance, making magnificent work of John Williams’ infamous music and breathing new life into a film we all know and love. My little wizarding heart swelled every time Hedwig’s Theme was played on the celeste, and seeing/hearing Fluffy’s lullaby played live on the harp was something I didn’t think I would ever get to experience.
Freer’s encouragement for audience participation was definitely big in making the night special, as he welcomed us to laugh, cry and “cheer out loud for your favourite characters”. Considering this was the first film, where most major characters are introduced, that meant a lot of cheering. Barely a minute in and the audience was going wild for characters like Professor McGonagall, Hagrid, Mrs. Weasley and of course Harry Potter. However some things never change, and nothing could match the sound of every fangirl in the room screaming when Oliver Wood made his appearance. (Although one girl screeching after Dumbledore dramatically yelled “Silence!” with what my sister described as “an R2D2 scream” was some pretty close competition.)
Now usually I’m not a fan of a rambunctious audience when I’m watching a film, and I really didn’t think I would appreciate it when trying to enjoy a live orchestra. But there’s something special about the Harry Potter fandom that just makes you feel connected, and surprisingly the cheers didn’t seem to overshadow the performance but rather energized the atmosphere. We cheered for our favourites, we booed at the villains, we quoted iconic scenes and… most of Dudley Dursley’s lines, for some reason. We marvelled at how tiny all these actors were in the first film and we shed a tear at the ones we’ve lost since then. The show brought together Harry Potter fans young and old in a way that I haven’t seen since the midnight release of the eighth and final film.
When the credits rolled John Williams received a joyous cheer, but the audience also made a point of applauding for the actors who are no longer with us, like Richard Harris (Dumbledore), Richard Griffiths (Uncle Vernon) and most notably Alan Rickman (Snape) and John Hurt (Ollivander) who passed away this past year. A fitting reminder that the fandom never forgets its heroes.
If you missed the show, you’ll certainly have some more opportunities to be a part of the experience, as the TSO will be doing one of these shows for each Harry Potter film at the Sony Centre. You can catch Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets from October 12-14, 2017.