I can’t believe that it was all the way back in July 2019 that I was at the Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince in Concert.
Oh, the pandemic of course.
Three and a half years later, welcome to my first orchestral concert of 2023. Last year was busy with John Williams celebratory concerts, but this year is going to be a real cracker!
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 marks the final change of composer in the series, with Alexandre Desplat taking over the duties. I had never before heard his music performed live before, so it was a great opportunity to hear something new.
The concert was held in the Sydney Opera House, with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra conducted by my favourite Nicholas Buc. This was my first time in the Opera House since the recent renovations and I have to say that it looked and sounded fantastic.
When checking my tickets beforehand I was delighted to discover that I had purchased them for the entire family, meaning a quick change of plans for them. We only arrived at our seats five minutes before the concert’s start.
Desplat’s score lacks a lot of the standout thematic material from the previous movies, relying less on leitmotifs and more on setting the atmosphere for the scenes displayed on the big screen above the orchestra. Some of the action scoring, and there is plenty of action, is frenetic and thrilling. But there were plenty of quieter passages as well.
What I found more surprising was the length of periods without any score at all, the orchestra resting and waiting.
John Williams’ Hedwig theme is used sparingly throughout the score, often at particularly poignant moments where its use is restrained or incomplete. These moments anchor you to what came before.
The performance of the orchestra was precise and distinct. Being seated further back than usual meant that it was more difficult to appreciate individual performances and that of Mr Buc, but I still found myself emotionally drawn into the joy of hearing the orchestra perform live in front of us.
We are all now looking forward to attending the conclusion of the series with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 in December with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.