Symphony’s Harry Potter performance ‘magical’

By Leanne Heaton Eagle Correspondent – November 5, 2018

(All images, videos and other media added by the BCSO Office. )

BUTLER TWP — Matthew Kraemer waved his wand and conjured up an evening of the “Magical Music of Harry Potter” with the Butler County Symphony Orchestra Saturday night at the Butler Intermediate School.

Opening the evening with an acknowledgment of the tragic events at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, the orchestra solemnly played “Ani Ma’amin,” a song meaning “I Believe” in Hebrew. The plaintive melody was beautifully appropriate for the commemoration.

Maestro Matthew Kraemer sported a Gryffindor scarf as he led the orchestra in “Hedwig’s Theme,” the delightfully familiar tune written by preeminent movie composer John Williams.

Paul Dukas’ “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” presented a different but equally charming take on magic music. A sustained, quivering note by the violins created an aura of mystery. The bassoons depicted the enchanted brooms marching to and from the well with increasing tempo until the song’s amusing climax.

Returning to the music of John Williams, was a signature tune written for Fawkes, the “Phoenix.” Kraemer and the orchestra skillfully navigated the daunting score as it fluttered and soared.

Patrick Doyle took over composing the music for the fourth film. Compacted into the “Goblet of Fire Suite,” the work began with drum beats heralding the arrival of the stoic Bulgaria competitors followed immediately by a delicate waltz for the French team. The orchestra excelled through the drastic stylistic changes.

The eponymous “Chamber of Secrets” composed by Williams employed eerie renditions of many of the tunes from earlier movies. “Hedwig’s Theme” was almost inverted by the French horns making the melody simultaneously familiar and yet strange.

Singers from Slippery Rock University presented the evening’s only vocal work, performing “Double Trouble.” Featuring lyrics based on the witches’ song from Shakespeare’s Macbeth and John Williams’ charming tune, the group sang with impeccable skill.

Two more of Williams’ works: “Witches, Wands and Wizards” and “Aunt Marge’s Waltz” came next. Witches, etc. was agitated and scary with very difficult lines for every section of the orchestra. Aunt Marge’s Waltz contrasted with sharp humor. The pieces employed many unusual effects including celesta, pizzicato strings, random flute notes, whip cracks and even a slide whistle.

Less frequently heard, Anatol Liadov’s “Baba-Yaga” held up its end of the magic as the bassoons held down the weird melody. Instead of growing in volume to a huge finale, it drifted away with a few whispery notes.

“Concert Suite” from “Order of the Phoenix” recycled “Hedwig’s Theme” before morphing into a slow martial pulse. It flirted with an upbeat section and returned to militaristic tempo before an abrupt ending.

Manuel de Falla’s “Ritual Fire Dance” is one of those pieces that everyone has heard but doesn’t remember where. Highly impressionistic, the fire is almost tangible in the pulsating rhythm and the flickering sound of the violins. It increased in volume and concluded at frenetic double time.

“Concert Piece” from “The Deathly Hallows, Part 2” showcased Alexandre Desplat’s contribution to the Harry Potter mystique. Much darker than any previous segment, it was sad in tone but resolved into placid lyricism, finishing with the ever-present celesta tune.

Wrapping up the concert was “Harry’s Wondrous World,” the unforgettable title music that pervades all eight movies. It sparkled, glided and remained enchanting no matter how often it is heard. Kraemer and the orchestra kept the well-known melody crisp and fresh throughout.

In the end, Professor Filius Flitwick might have incanted, “Leviosa” with a swish and flick of his wand to send the audience floating home after a night of musical magic

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