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  • Writer's pictureFrances

The Music of Harry Potter in Concert Review | Bridgewater Hall | Manchester

By invitation only the Bridgewater is transforming its hall for the purpose of witchcraft and wizardry. Taking on the epic catalogue of Harry Potter’s eight feature films, conductor Stephen Bell has rummaged through the files to capture the mystifying music that built J.K Rowling’s cinematic world.

Boosting the narrative with personalised themes for characters and dramatic wand swishes, the production brings attention to the beautiful orchestral score that accompanies the Hollywood blockbusters. The soundtrack to Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone, composed by John William’s has the benefit of being shaped by the mastermind behind the Star Wars, Jaws, Indiana Jones and Jurassic Park film scores. As the Halle orchestra pays tribute to the unsung heroes behind the scenes, the time capsule concert of its eight-film soundtracks offers the mythical melodies of all four composers. With twelve Oscar nods (but no wins), including one for Best Original Score, Bell takes the multi-billion franchise by the instrumentals and leads audiences on an action-packed evening of adventure.

Including, A Window to the Past and Double Trouble from The Prisoner of Azkaban, Williams first captured the imaginations of Potter fans through Harry’s first film, the Philosopher’s Stone. The illuminating tracks seized the alluring new world presented, and the wistful nature of William’s style steered the bright, young characters through the first few films. As Hedwig's Theme was the only theme to carry itself throughout the entire film series, the shift in tones from new directors and composers brought more ominous tracks and fewer repurposed themes. Composers of the later films, including Patrick Doyle, Nicholas Hooper, and Alexandre Desplat re-established Harry’s world in their own vision. The mixing may have brought continuity issues to the series as a whole, but as the pendulum swung from one director and composer to the next, audiences re-entered the world of Hogwarts with enthralling new battle cries and melodies.

Despite your totem pole of preferred films and composers, the Halle concert is enriched by the numerous voices that explored and convey Harry’s themes of hope, love and mischief. Taking audiences on a journey to Hogwarts and beyond with a beautiful departure from their classical repertoire. The incredibly thoughtful production of love includes dreamlike performances from the Halle Youth Training Choir and the Youth Choir, who layer the airy soundtrack of Double Trouble and My Love is Always Here with sharp vocals. Presented by Sarah Day-Smith, the show focuses on the glorious music that runs between its films while discussing the melee of magic behind personal tracks. Bringing in Dobby’s and the Weasley’s theme songs to highlight the playful relationships that countered the threatening tracks surrounding He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named.

The long-running series brings recognisable instrumentals that have captured the action on screen. Helping to build the complex world and soundscape of Harry Potter, the Halle hits all the right notes for anyone with a love of live music. With the entire orchestra playing in costume and Manchester Metropolitan drama students taking over the foyer in live cosplay, this is an adventurous performance that should not be missed.

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