Under the baton of conductor Stephen Bell, the Hallé performs music from all eight Harry Potter Films on 23 February at Leeds Town Hall. The enchanting music of the astonishingly successful Harry Potter films has delighted generations of wizards and muggles for nearly twenty years. We caught up with Stephen ahead of the concert, and he gave us more information into the magical evening.
Hi Stephen, please could you describe the show to us in your own words.
We explore all the Harry Potter films with musical examples going right back to the famous Hedwig’s Theme with that iconic celeste solo that so perfectly captures the magical qualities of John Williams’s original score to Philosopher’s Stone.
What can the audience expect? Talk us through the experience they will have at this concert.
We are all used to hearing full orchestral films scores in cinemas and on TV, but hearing them played live by an 85 piece orchestra in a concert hall is by far the best way to experience the immense power of live music and how it affects the emotions of the listener - there’s no escape from it and it completely surrounds you!
What format does the show take, how will you move from one piece to the next?
We are going through the journey with Harry and many of the characters he meets on his amazing journeys in film chronological order through the two-hour concert. Some of the music (especially the first three films all with music by John Williams) has published concert suites made up of several movements depicting certain scenes or characters, whilst some of the later films have either stand-alone extracts taken directly from the film cues or medleys that link together some of the most recognisable themes used in the movies.
Can you tell us about which pieces you’ll be playing?
I guarantee if you’re a fan of these great films, you will instantly recognise much of the music we’re performing and what always strikes me is the enormous range and scope from simple string melodies to the crazy wild ride of the Knight Bus or the grandeur of Harry’s Wonderous World. Some quirky, some thought provoking, some breathtakingly exciting but always delivered with an immediacy that only seeing and hearing them performed live can recreate.
How did you choose which pieces of the soundtrack to perform, and what makes it so special hearing them performed live?
There are so many to list here, but for me, hearing the woodwind section of the orchestra (just twelve players) brilliantly depict the Nimbus 2000, or the atmosphere created by that famous opening celeste solo go some way to explaining the huge success of these films and as is quite often the case, I really believe films would seem rather monochrome if you watched them without their soundtracks.
What is the role of Sarah, the presenter?
It would be impossible to try and explain the rather complex plots in detail - and we’d be there all night...! What Sarah will do is link the musical themes to certain events and characters which we hope, in turn, will trigger a response or memory for those who know the films well, or engage those with less intimate knowledge of each film as help guide them through the journey. What I can promise is a magical evening and great music along the way and we all look forward to seeing you there!