Toronto Symphony Orchestra enchants audiences with Harry Potter Concert Series

By: Gabrielle Reyes Nostalgia filled the air as thousands of fans poured into The Sony Centre for the Performing Arts last night to experience the film, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets like never before.

The Harry Potter Film Concert Series, presented by The Sony Centre and Attila Glatz Concert Productions, has returned for the second installment of the film series. Led by guest conductor Joshua Gersen, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra performed the iconic score with the film projected behind them on screen.

(Gabrielle Reyes/CanCulture)
(Gabrielle Reyes/CanCulture)

In stark contrast to the formal tone of most orchestral performances, this film concert series is an immersive experience. An unmistakably strong sense of community was felt as audience members collectively engaged with the film and its music through cheers and applause. Before taking his place at the conductor’s podium, Gersen even had audience members cheering for their Hogwarts houses.

The Sony Centre also featured a pre-show talk, “Behind the Curtain,” with TSO’s principal harpist, Heidi Van Hoesen Gorton and Toronto-based journalist Deirdre Kelly. They discussed the intricacies and challenges of performing such an iconic film score and what it takes to prepare for it. Van Hoesen Gorton noted how rewarding it is to be able to perform John Williams’ works, being a fan of Williams herself.

The pre-show talk put the performance into perspective, giving audience members an in-depth look at the show, explaining how various instruments and musical themes are used throughout the film to evoke emotion and complement the film’s atmosphere and characters.

The opening notes of Hedwig’s Theme were enough to elicit excited cheers from audience members. From the ominous musical themes of the Forbidden Forest, to the soaring horn melodies heard on the Quidditch pitch, John Williams’ orchestration brings life to the film. The themes of the second film are far more sinister than the first, and this was evident in their performance. The TSO’s use of articulation and contrasting dynamics effectively emphasized character nuances and tonal changes between scenes. While there is little room for interpretation while playing live with the film, the TSO brought Williams’ score to life.

Their synchronicity with the film was on par with that of the original soundtrack. The TSO blended their sound beautifully with the film, leaving audience members spellbound. In the best of ways, it was easy to forget that a live orchestra was performing a few feet away.

Two decades later, the Harry Potter series continues to captivate fans in new and exciting ways. From the devout Harry Potter fan, to the dedicated TSO patron, to the John Williams enthusiast, this film concert series promises a night of magic and entertainment for everyone.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets In Concert continues at Toronto’s Sony Centre until Oct. 14.  Tickets are available here.

For even more Harry Potter, check out the details for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in Concert next May!