e just can’t get enough of Harry Potter. This summer, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a two-part play, opened on London’s West End. The script became a bestselling book. In November, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a Potter prequel, was released to theaters. And, of course, there’s The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, an entire theme park, which debuted in 2010 at Universal Studios Florida. But even as the magical universe created by J.K. Rowling continues to expand, fans of Harry and his Hogwarts’ classmates still enjoy reliving the original stories in new ways. Now there’s also Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in Concert, which features a live orchestra performing the Oscar-nominated John Williams score while the 2001 film — the first of eight in the record-shattering Potter franchise — is shown in high definition on a 40foot screen. Only Voldemort himself could fail to be wowed by such a spectacle. Hopefully, however, “He Who Must Not Be Named” won’t be in attendance when the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra — under the baton of guest conductor Justin Freer — casts its spell over the Walt Disney Theater with three shows on Saturday and Sunday, February 18 and 19, 2017. The Saturday show is at 7:30 p.m., followed by two Sunday shows at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Tickets start at $45. “The Harry Potter film series is one of those once-in-a-lifetime cultural phenomena that continues to delight millions of fans around the world,” says Freer, who’s also founder and president of CineConcerts, one of the world’s leading producers of events that combine film and live music. “This will be unforgettable.” That certainly appears to be the case. In cities where Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in Concert has been staged, it has drawn packed houses of fans, some of whom carry wands and are clad in wizarding finery. As the film unfolds over three hours — including a 20-minute intermission — attendees cheer or boo the entrance of each of the story’s myriad characters. And, invariably, they leap to their feet and cheer during the final credits. Freer, a native of Huntington Beach, California, has been a guest conductor for many of the country’s leading symphony orchestras. On his schedule are conducting engagements with high-profile orchestras in London, Sydney, Munich, Vienna, Dublin, Brisbane, Hong Kong and Lucerne. He has composed music for independent films and the marketing campaigns behind such blockbusters as Avatar (2009) and The Day The Earth Stood Still (2008). He also composed and conducted the music for the 2011 44
artsLife | WINTER 2016
Conductor Justin Freer (above left) will lead the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra in the score for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, which was written by John Williams (above right). As the orchestra plays, the 2001 film will be shown on a 40-foot screen.
and 2012 Major League Soccer Championship Cups in Los Angeles. As for Williams, if you’ve ever been to a movie — or, for that matter, watched TV — you’ve likely heard his work. The New York City native has enjoyed a 40-year collaboration with director Steven Spielberg, and has scored, among other Spielberg films, Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan and all the Indiana Jones installments. In addition, Williams has scored seven Star Wars films — earning yet another Oscar nomination for Star Wars: The Force Awakens — as well as Goodbye, Mr. Chips, Superman, Born on the Fourth of July, Home Alone, Far and Away, Sabrina, Sleepers and Rosewood. He has written the music for more than 200 TV shows, including the instantly recognizable themes for NBC Nightly News and the network’s long-running Meet the Press. More recently, he has composed a new opener for the PBS arts showcase, Great