She has heard it time and time again: an introduction to the symphony at a young age is what keeps patrons returning for years to come.
And, according to Okanagan Symphony Orchestra music director Rosemary Thomson, there’s no better way to introduce children to classical music than through J.K. Rowling’s acclaimed series Harry Potter. To that end, the OSO presents The Music of Harry Potter in Vernon Oct. 26, Penticton Oct. 27 and Kelowna Oct. 28.
“For so many people, I’ve heard they were brought to the symphony by a special adult in their life,” Thomson said. “It’s just a perfect introduction to this whole new world.”
Scored by John Williams, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone hit the silver screen in 2001 based on Rowling’s 1997 novel of the same name. In its opening weekend, the film earned an estimated $93.5 million. Today, the series’ eight films and spin-off prequel flick Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them have generated more than $8.5 billion worldwide. Of those eight films, Williams left his mark on the first three – Philosopher’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets and Prizoner of Azkaban – and received Grammy and Oscar nominations for his work.
“Most of it (our performance) is from the first movie. I love Harry Potter, the books, the movies and most of all the music,” Thomson said. “John Williams’ score brings all of the characters to life in the most magical way. I can’t wait for this show.”
To help bring the production to life, Vernon actress Nina Ogasawara will don the garb and demeanour of the series’ heroine Hermione Granger while Dominik Weaver will wear the circular spectacles and lightning bolt scar of the story’s favourite young wizard and titular character.
Fans of the movies will recognize many songs from the soundtrack, Thomson said. Her favourite, however, is Hedwig’s Flight.
“He does such a great job at simulating flight through this piece,” Thomson said. “He really pushed the orchestra to play at their best.”
Other iconic pieces include the light and sparkly sounds of Diagon Alley, the woodwind sounds of Quidditch and Fluffy the three-headed dog’s piece featuring the contrabassoon – a large woodwind instrument that coils around itself and boasts the title of the orchestra’s lowest instrument.
In addition to entertaining the kids through familiar tones, Thomson said the performance also acts as a way to introduce children to the different sections and sounds of the orchestra through section solos. And, once that love of the symphony is born and a child’s involvement in music takes root, Thomson said the performance evolves into something beyond mere entertainment.
“It’s like taking a kid who plays peewee hockey to the NHL,” Thomson said. “It inspires them to keep going.”
Unlike the OSO’s primary ChaseWines Masterworks programming, The Music of Harry Potter falls under the annual family special umbrella, which saw Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf take Okanagan stages last year. That performance also marked the introduction of the family special to Vernon audiences.
“Not every concert we do is entertaining, but this one definitely is,” Thomson said, noting that some OSO performances could be considered more thought-provoking or demonstrative than for the sheer purpose of entertainment.
“I just love this concert. It evokes memories of seeing the movies. It’s just beautiful. It’s really strong music. It will excite everyone who is young and young at heart.”
The Music of Harry Potter is at the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre at 7 p.m. Oct. 26, Penticton’s Cleland Community Theatre at 2 p.m. Oct. 27 and the Kelowna Community Theatre at 2 p.m. Oct. 28. Special ticket pricing is in effect for these family performances. Tickets are $20.50 for adults, $17 for seniors and $12.50 for students and are available through okanagansymphony.com. As the performance precedes Halloween, audience costumes — Harry Potter related or otherwise — are encouraged.