On the 29th April, my friend and I got to see the Sydney Symphony Orchestra perform the soundtrack to the first Harry Potter film. It was a great night and a really fun concert – the conductor was brilliant, the sounds were amazing and the whole experience, being in a concert hall filled with two thousand other Harry Potter fans while watching the film collectively is an experience I would definitely do again.
Prior to the concert, my friend and I went out for dinner. As we were walking to dinner, we managed to catch a beautiful sunset, and of course, I had to take a picture.
After we’d thoroughly stuffed ourselves with food (to be more precise, pancakes), we headed to where the the concert was being held. The concert was held at the Sydney Opera House, as with most SSO concerts I’ve been to. In the foyer, they were selling official Harry Potter merchandise and programs. There were so many things, ranging from plushie Hedwig, t-shirts, scarves, CDs, and they were even selling wands that night! I really wanted to get one but they were selling for $70 AUD, and I really didn’t have that money so I stayed well away from those. My friend however, bought a Slytherin scarf, because yes, she’s a Slytherin, and the scarf was actually a really nice colour and really good quality. When we got into the concert hall, we had seats really close to the stage in the stalls. It was difficult to see the whole orchestra, so perhaps the sound balance wasn’t the best, but we could see the projector screen pretty clearly which was good enough for me.
Let me be transparent; I adore Harry Potter, both the books and the movie, but admittedly I’ve never properly listened to the film soundtracks, partly because I only listen to soundtracks when I’m studying (and I can’t study to HP because I get distracted by analysing all of the themes which are repeated over and over again), and partly because I’ve never been bothered. I’ve always preferred reading the books – in fact, last year, right before and after one of my major exam blocks, I decided re-reading the entire Harry Potter series would be a brilliant idea because it had been forever since I last read them and I needed a refresher. I remember watching parts of the movie when it was aired on TV and cringing at how much of the story and world of Harry Potter it had left out, and there and then decided to stick to re-reading the books.
Listening to the soundtrack live made me realise two things: I had never noticed how many times the main theme (Hedwig’s theme) comes throughout the movie, whether it’s varied/augmented/diminished in some way or another. Listening to it live provided a really fresh perspective from an analytical point of view, and it also allowed me to hear all these textural layers you wouldn’t necessarily hear if you were just listening to the movie play. The second thing was that not all classical music concerts have to be completely serious. Sure, this was a very different concert to your standard orchestral/concerto performances an orchestra might put on, but it was a really fun atmosphere, with people cheering and booing at their favourite characters on the screen. It made me realise that maybe orchestral performances, when appropriate, don’t have to be taken so seriously. Seriously, you’re not going to have half the audience cheering for Harry when he gets sorted into Gryffindor or everyone booing for Slytherin when they (almost) win the house cup at the end anywhere else you’d watch it, accompanied live by a professional symphony orchestra which is usually associated with serious western classical art music.
Although concert wise, it wasn’t the best one I’ve ever been to, but it was still a memorable night between the intense conducting under the baton of David Robertson, and having a really engaged, fun audience. The sounds of the symphony live in a concert hall compared to blasting through speakers is a completely different experience that everyone should have at least once in their lifetime. It’s definitely something I would recommend going to if you ever get the chance!
Shoutout to my friend who inspired me to write this post when she asked me if I was going to blog about this concert!