Local Arts

Fans delight as CSO’s ‘Harry Potter’ concert enhances the film without overshadowing it

Is there really any better way to watch a favorite movie on the big screen than with a couple thousand passionate fans and a live orchestra recreating the movie’s music on stage below? After screening “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” Friday at Ovens Auditorium on opening night of Charlotte Symphony Orchestra’s “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone - In Concert,” I doubt it.

I imagine the goal of a great soundtrack is to enhance a film without distracting from it. And conductor Jeffrey Schindler and the CSO managed to punctuate the film with John Williams’ score without overshadowing it.

While most audience members had probably seen the first film in the series based on J.K. Rowling’s best-selling books 50 times and knew every line of dialogue and possibly every note of music, for relative newbies – and yes, there are some – it was easy to get lost in the film.

My youngest son and I have only watched the film once, and my oldest had not seen it yet. And I had to remind myself a couple of times that the music I was hearing, which matched the scenes perfectly, was emanating from the instruments below and not from the screen. I wanted to appreciate the symphony more, but was enthralled with the adventure on screen. I guess that is the first order of business, though – actually watching the movie and letting the music carry you there more fully, driving the audience’s reaction and connections to the characters and their emotions.

The audience, which skewed toward Gen Xers and their children and those who grew up watching “Harry Potter” – was a mostly seasoned group of wizards and witches that howled when house Gryffindor or Hufflepuff was called and booed (though not everyone) when Draco Malfoy and house Slytherin were mentioned.

The crowd applauded any time familiar characters were introduced – Hermione, the Weasleys and, of course, Hagrid. They hooted any time Harry outwitted Malfoy, cheered as if they were seated in the crowd at the Quidditch match and wailed when brat-cousin Dudley is trapped in the opening sequence.

Although intermission made the 2 1/2-hour film even longer – not always a good thing for tired, young viewers – it did allow for a much-needed drink and popcorn run.

Those too enthralled with the movie to concentrate on the orchestra for long got a chance as the credits rolled, which was surprisingly one of the most enjoyable portions of the concert; it gave the symphony a chance to really swell and show off, with the dynamic finale that ranged from tinkling bells to a big, bombast, full orchestra. So make sure not to skip out on the credits, especially if you have yet to fully appreciate the live performance.

CSO’s “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone - In Concert” plays twice more: Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. and 1 p.m., respectively.

‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone - In Concert’ (featuring the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra)

When: 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.

Where: Ovens Auditorium, 2700 E. Independence Blvd.

Tickets: $60-$90.

Details: 704-972-2000; www.charlottesymphomy.org.