Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
In the last couple of years, it has become a trend to show a movie on a screen including all sound effects and dialogue, while an orchestra is playing the music, creating an enhanced cinema experience. The Rotterdam Philharmonic is an orchestra from the Netherlands, which organizes concerts in this format regularly in their hometown of Rotterdam. They have done movies like Lord of the Rings, Gladiator, and The Matrix, as well as a number of movies from the Harry Potter series. Having begun with the first Harry Potter movie in November 2016, they performed the second one in September 2017 (unfortunately, I could not attend this concert) and now reached the third in the series, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, on January 20th, 2018.
Going to a Harry Potter concert is a very enjoyable experience. On top of the excellent movie and John Williams’ great music, Harry Potter fans get the chance to dress up with cloaks, wands, scarves, and other clothes. The orchestra did a very good job of synchronizing their music to the motion pictures. The music itself is gorgeously written, but hearing it played so well by a live orchestra, while the images were playing on the screen, made it even better. All the great musical moments in the movie, like the bus sequence, the flying scene, the expecto patronum part, and of course the scenes where the “A Window to the Past” theme could be heard, were simply a pleasure to listen to. Most of the time when I go to this kind of concert, while watching the movie on the screen I can actually hear that a live orchestra is playing the music which takes me out of the movie a bit, but here I did not have that feeling at all: the quality of the orchestra was so good that it merged perfectly with the film. Even better, I was aware of the orchestra while they were not playing. The sound of the dialogue alone sounded a bit out of place through the speakers of the venue, making you aware that you were not in a cinema. It also got me excited for the music to start again. As at every concert of this type, the end credits provide a special opportunity to watch the orchestra’s musicians play and enjoy the music without any distraction from the big screen.
This concert was also the first one in this orchestra’s Harry Potter series that included a choir. The dementor scenes and especially “Double Trouble” need skilled singers, and I am convinced that without them singing, the concert would not have been as enjoyable. One thing about the choir was a bit weird, though. The sound came from both front speakers while the choir was sitting in the back on the left side. To hear the sound from the front, where the screen was, and see them singing on the left was a bit confusing. But this is just a minor pet peeve that I had about this marvelous concert. Luckily, there are still 5 movies to go, and I am very curious how Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire with music from Patrick Doyle will sound played by this orchestra with its experience and skill set. I am already looking forward to it.
Where and when: Rotterdam, The Netherlands – January 20th, 2018
Orchestra: The Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Justin Freer
Choir: L.S.K.O. Collegium Musicum