Harry Potter is the kind of franchise that deserves longevity. One of the most richly detailed fictional worlds that readers and viewers have had the pleasure of entering from the late 90s onwards, there is immense joy to be found in the experience of reliving the stories with other fans. Last night's Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in Concert was the perfect example.
The event saw the wonderful Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra perform the entirety of John Williams' iconic score from the first film in the franchise. With the film projected on to a giant screen behind the orchestra, Spark Arena felt smaller and more intimate than its size and name denotes, and to rewatch the film alongside thousands of fans was an inspiring reminder of how closely people hold the story to their hearts; the raucous cheers as Harry, Ron and Hermione were each introduced on screen were moments of pure delight.
The APO delivered a note-perfect performance, bringing the thrilling score alive in all its glory and matching the film in perfect synchronicity. I can't help but feel as though the event may have been better suited to a smaller venue such as the Civic, however; the audience's sheer distance from the orchestra at Spark Arena sometimes left one feeling a little too removed from the actual live music element of the cinematic experience - though that may also be a testament to the APO's seamless, picture-perfect performance.
Watching the film was enjoyable, but the real treasure lay during the credits, a moment only slightly shrouded by some punters who decided to file out as soon as the film ended. To be able to properly focus on the orchestra itself playing the score right to the last title was where the audience - most of whom may have been unfamiliar with live orchestral music - was able to appreciate just how richly layered and technically impressive the format is.
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It was, indeed, a magical experience, and it may not be the last of its kind. The Harry Potter Concert Series website promises each film in the series is due for a live performance, so Kiwi audiences may be able to look forward to their favourite instalment receiving the same spellbinding treatment.