There’s not a whole lot I love more than Harry Potter. I wear my Hufflepuff house crest with unwavering pride, and yell about the importance of loyalty to anyone that will listen. I love bragging about how our common room is next to the kitchen for all of our midnight snack needs, and that yeah, you might have Harry, or Cho, or Draco, but we had Cedric, and we all know he was the most noble of the lot (aside from maybe Neville). Forget the fact that I haven’t actually attended school in over 6 years. I will always be waiting for my Hogwarts letter. This life-long love meant that attending last night’s screening of the very first movie that brought the wizarding world to life, and witnessing the magnificent Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra play John Williams’ generation defining score alongside it, was truly a blessing.
The crowd filed into Spark Arena dressed in anything from a subtle house-coloured beanie and scarf, to a full robe and wand situation. Eyes grew wide in wonder as the makeshift witches and wizards caught sight of the stage, completely filled to the brim with the tens of musicians that would soon be turning a film that we have all no doubt seen 65 times, into a real magical experience. Prior to the commencement of the show, our lively conductor asked us to cheer for our favourite houses (who knew we were a city dominated by Ravenclaws?) and implored that as the movie played, we cheer and clap along with the arrival of our favourite characters, or most beloved scenes – a perfect way of hyping up the already enthusiastic audience.
As the movie began, I made a conscious effort to not get lost in what is definitely one of my most cherished films of all time, and instead concentrated on the orchestra, as the violinists moved their bows in perfect unison, and the conductor threw his entire body into guiding his team of incredibly talented musicians seamlessly through the score. Their faultless execution meant that there were moments – for example when I was quietly quoting my fave lines (“but last year, last year I had 37!” and “Not one single, bloody letter! Not one!”) – in which I almost forgot that the music was not coming from the speakers. There were other moments, though – such as the all important Quidditch match in which the music drowned out the brash chanting of Gryffindor’s spectators – where my eyes were drawn once again to the mass of people on stage, all working tightly together as though this music was written just for them.
The entire evening was entirely spellbinding. From the dedicated fans, to the themed bar that provided us with Butterbeer and Pumpkin Juice, to the largest projection of baby Dan Radcliffe I’ve ever seen, there was not a single moment that I felt underwhelmed. The addition of the live orchestra added a depth I never knew was missing, and an appreciation for the sheer talent that goes into writing a score, as well as the precision and control that goes into playing it. It seems appropriate that 20 years after the book was first published, the Philosopher’s Stone was re-imagined in such an innovative way, making it feel brand new in a way I never thought possible.