PREVIEW: Harry Potter at the Symphony

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"Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" with the Nashville Symphony (May 24 - 27) is a hot ticket!

It’s no secret that J.K. Rowling reignited a love for reading in kids with her legendary Harry Potter book series. Then along came the blockbuster movies everyone loves dearly.

Once again, the Nashville Symphony gives local families a more magical way to experience the Potter universe with Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in Concert. It’s May 24 – 27 at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center (the next installment, Order of the Phoenix, takes place May 23 – 26, 2019. Season tickets are on sale now. Individual tickets for Phoenix go on sale July 20).

The Nashville Symphony has a solid track record of a variety of “Movie in Concert” performances. They are experiences like no other. Hearing a film score live as the movie plays on a giant screen above the stage is stunning.

“Music is such an important part of the movie experience because it enhances the scene, making it more emotional than without any accompaniment,” says Laura Ross, Nashville Symphony violinist. “I remember playing Jurassic Park for the first time. Because it wasn’t something so full of notes like ‘Hedwig’s Theme’ in Harry Potter, I was able to look up at the screen. The look of awe on Laura Dern’s face when she sees the dinosaurs for the first time was exactly how I felt while I was playing. There’s nothing like it,” she adds.

EMOTIONAL REALITY

Conductor Justin Freer will lead the Nashville Symphony in “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in Concert.”

The Harry Potter Film Concert Series is a product of CineConcerts, a company bringing iconic films to audiences with live orchestra accompaniment. American composer and conductor Justin Freer is CineConcerts’ founder and producer.

Drawn to film music when he was a child, Freer is a big Harry Potter fan. “I loved the books when they came out. I’m an avid reader, but when the movies came out it was exciting to sit in a dark theater and listen to the music score for the first time,” he says.

Freer acknowledges the emotional reality of what film music does for motion pictures, including the Harry Potter universe.

“One of the many reasons we’re perhaps afraid of Voldemort or we’re sad for Harry at times, or we feel his adventurous spirit is because the music helps us feel these emotions,” Freer says. “To have that heightened by a full symphony orchestra and thousands of other people in the hall experiencing the same event simultaneously elevates it in a way you can’t replicate,” he adds.

GOBLET OF FIRE SCORE

Goblet of Fire is the first movie in the series that the great John Williams didn’t score in full. Most of the Goblet score is the handiwork of composer Patrick Doyle.

“Patrick Doyle writes wonderful, sweeping melodies,” says Ross. “This is a darker movie in many ways, but there are some fun moments as well like the opening Quidditch match,” she adds.

“For me, one of the things that’s most striking about the music score is just how dark the film goes,” says Freer. That darkness is a progressive element of the overarching story arc.

“Director Mike Newell had an interesting challenge. It’s the first part of the story where all of a sudden one of these characters — one of these children whom we love and adore — is killed by Voldemort right in front of our eyes. That’s a big deal in the Harry Potter story,” Freer says.

Freer notes that he loves the counterpart that exists in the music against the film. “I think Patrick does an incredible job of playing against what you may expect with what you see and going to the intrinsic interior of the emotions of these characters,” he says.

AN IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCE

Movie-in-concert experiences are incredibly immersive ones, both musically and visually. They provide a visceral and physical ride.

“It’s immersive in several ways. Emotionally immersive. Physically immersive because there really is a physical component to having that much sound blown at you. In some cases huge amounts of sound in some of the action sequences in epic scenes. Then there are these incredibly naked and transparent intimate moments that are exposed by perhaps a solo on stage,” Freer says.

For kids, it’s a powerful moment to connect, sometimes for the first time, the power of music to the motion picture experience. Some may realize one of the reasons they’re afraid of Voldemort is because of the low cellos in the score. The live experience no doubt supersedes a recorded version.

“Kids make the connection that the instrument is in some part responsible for their fear. That’s an incredibly powerful thing as a child to realize, and also as an adult,” Freer notes, adding he hopes kids and adults with walk away from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in Concert truly appreciating music and film in a new way.

IF YOU GO:

Nashville Symphony presents:
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in Concert
May 24 – 27; All ages
Schermerhorn Symphony Center
1 Symphony Place, Nashville
615-782-4040 • nashvillesymphony.org
Showtimes: Thu – Sat 7 p.m., Sun 3 p.m.
Tickets: $34 – $129

Chad Young is the managing editor and arts/entertainment editor for this publication.

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