On June 26, 1997, JK Rowling released the novel that, little did she know, would evolve into a global phenomenon, consisting of a movie franchise, theme parks, exhibitions, fan conventions, parody plays, extensive merchandise, drawn-on lightning bolts, and more. All because of the boy who lived.
#HarryPotter20 commemorated the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, which was celebrated by Muggles and fans alike around the world. In Toronto, fans had an opportunity to experience the film adaptation of the book with the power of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, who, with the assistance of the Women’s Chorus from Amadeus Choir and the Elmer Iseler Singers, performed John Williams’ iconic Oscar-nominated score, beat-for-beat. The concert had an exclusive three night run at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts.
Per conductor Justin Freer’s instructions, the audience enthusiastically participated, cheering and booing favourite actors and characters, reciting lines, and even adding in a little bit of commentary from the outset. Alan Rickman, who starred in all eight films as Professor Snape, received the loudest screams-and probably the most amount of tears, too (Rickman passed away in 2016).
Harry Potter in Concert was undoubtedly a wonderful treat for long-term Potterheads, many of whom are so deeply connected to both the book and film series. Like the actors who realized the beloved characters on-screen and the visionary crew who brought the Wizarding World to life, the sounds of Williams’ score defined Harry’s adventures.
They are, similarly, the sounds of childhood. They are the days spent imagining what House I’d get sorted into (I’ll always hope for Gryffindor, but would probably be a Hufflepuff), humming “Hedwig’s Theme” while pointing my wand (twig) in the air, calling out “Lumos!”. They are the afternoons of burying yourself in pages of friendship, love, sacrifice, and Potions class, the midnight release lineups at Chapters and Cineplex, and the endless references shared with friends. “It’s Levi-O-sa. Not Levi-o-SA,” I quipped, just like Hermione.
That deep sense of nostalgia is inevitably tied to all things Harry Potter related, but it is a wonderful thing to relive it in a common space with those who share similar memories. To have that experience scored by a group of musicians who handled the deafening trumpets of Voldemort, the jingle of the Hogwarts castle, and the delicate strings that tell us to say farewell to this story so beautifully, is nothing short of magical. Just make sure you stick around through the credits to fully immerse yourself in the masterful work by the TSO.
One of the most heartening sights amongst the thick Slytherin scarves and wispy robes was of little ones, popcorn in hand, entering the Wizarding World for the first time. For them, and for anyone who may be unfamiliar with the Potter franchise: this is one of the most unique ways to experience and celebrate the legacy of Harry Potter through both picture and sound. Plus, it’s just plain fun.
If you weren’t able to make it, the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts and Attila Glatz Concert Productions will be presenting concert events for each one of the Harry Potter films. The TSO will be performing the music for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in Concert from October 12th to October 14th, 2017.