Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone In Concert
J.K. Rowling published Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in June 1997. The equally beloved film of the same name was released in 2001. After all these years, it’s clear that time has done nothing to diminish the intensity of Potter fandom, and rightfully so. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the cherished book that started it all, Potterheads gathered at the Sony Centre this week to take in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone In Concert, featuring a screening of the first film accompanied by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the voices of the Amadeus Choir and the Elmer Iseler Singers. The film, and John Williams’ iconic score, including the instantly recognizable “Hedwig’s Theme”, have aged very, very well.
The plot by now is no secret – this first film in the series has Harry discover he’s a wizard and follows The Boy Who Lived through his first year at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Before the show, conductor Justin Freer set the tone and encouraged audience members to “let loose a little”, succumb to emotion, and react freely to the film. Sure enough, cheers and jeers greeted characters, songs, and set pieces as they appeared on-screen, with the crowd battling it out for their Hogwarts house of choice. Forget what you knew about attending movie screenings or the symphony; the format invites you to break just about every single rule.
With both playing simultaneously, it was easy to get lost in either the film or the music (a credit to both) at first, but soon into the performance it all felt perfectly normal. The score being recreated live also instills a renewed appreciation for how a score can elevate and enhance the plot, and Harry Potter’s story specifically. It’s astonishing just how much music is actually in this movie and from scene to scene it’s evident how fundamental John Williams was in establishing the Harry Potter universe.
The film, helped immensely by the timeless score, has retained every bit of its magic, and though there were a few first-timers, for most muggles in attendance, this was a particularly special re-watch, of which there have surely been many. Even if suddenly graced with the power of apparition, it’s safe to assume that for this crowd, there was simply no better place to be.
Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets In Concert comes to the Sony Centre October 12-14. Tickets: http://www.sonycentre.ca/