Few contemporary scores are as familiar to audiences as those from the world of Harry Potter. It’s arguably the biggest global franchise since “Star Wars,” with eight films under the Potter banner – not to mention slews of books, merchandise, and spin-offs.
This weekend, the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra takes on the music of “Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone” under the direction of conductor Jeffrey Schindler, as the film rolls on a giant screen above and behind them.
And what better way to introduce non-symphony goers to a live orchestra while delighting CSO’s base with a multi-media concert experience?
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The Observer spoke to Schindler – who flew into Charlotte from Australia for three concerts at Ovens Auditorium – about bringing the soundtrack to life, its importance in the world of film music, and what’s unique about working in film.
Q. What is it about music with a visual component that you enjoy, having worked on so many films and television shows?
A. The emotional objective of the composer and filmmaker is usually quite clear. I don’t have to search for a story or narrative as one frequently does in classical, concert or more “absolute” music. The great composer Igor Stravinsky once said, “Give me boundaries so I can be truly free.” With film music, we become free to commit to and explore the limits of the dramatic intent of the music as it is presented to us.
Q. What drew you to “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”?
A. It’s virtually impossible to not be drawn to the compelling, brilliant and magical music of John Williams. And yes, I’m certainly a fan of both the films and the books.
Q. Can you simply enjoy a movie, or are you thinking about how you might interpret it or how the music works within the film?
A. It’s an occupational hazard. It’s sometimes difficult to simply sit back and enjoy the experience. Having spent so much time with film music and understanding how to read film and movies, there is always a part of me that is analyzing how the music is working to the image, and what the composer is trying to accomplish. And of course, a John Williams score is always a revelation. Unquestionably, he is the master.
Q. You’ve covered everything from horror (“Orphan”) to comedy (“Pee Wee’s Big Holiday”) to action/adventure (“X-Men Apocalypse”). Do you prefer a specific genre?
A. Every film presents an opportunity to explore different aspects of humanity through music, but if pressed, I would confess that I am drawn to action/adventure and romance. Action/adventure lends itself to the heroic gesture in music which ennobles us, and romance lends itself to the passionate and melodic – elements that every musician schooled in the classics lives for.
Q. Is the thinking behind presenting such a popular, contemporary work have a lot to do with expanding the symphony audience?
A. Audience development is on everybody’s mind all the time. The familiar world of Harry Potter, with which so many people are comfortable, (gives) the audience the opportunity to relax and enjoy a non-formal immersion in the world of the symphony.
Q. You’ve worked on a lot of children’s projects as well. Do you approach those any differently?
A. A great conductor once said that musicians should perform the classics as if they were moderns, and the moderns as if they were classics. Likewise, I think that music – and, in fact, other artistic endeavors – meant for younger people should be approached with the same aesthetic: as art meant for a more adult, sophisticated audience. Younger people are actually very astute, and as sensitive to aesthetic concerns as older audiences. Likewise, music and art meant for a more mature and worldly audience should engage the wonder and innocence of the child that is still inside all of us.
Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone - In Concert
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m.. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.
Where: Ovens Auditorium, 2700 E. Independence Blvd.
Details: 704.972.2000; www.charlottesymphony.org.