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Review: MN Orchestra‘s ‘Harry Potter’ is simply enchanting

Friday’s performance of ‘The Prisoner of Azkaban’ put a spell on both young and old alike.

There are few things that can make “Harry Potter” better. The Minnesota Orchestra is one of them.

As a part of the orchestra’s movie series, concert-goers were treated to a two-in-one magical experience this weekend. Choir and ensemble brought the soundtrack to life in the concert hall as “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” played on a massive screen above. 

The synchronization of sound and screen was unfathomably precise. From each little “ting” of a chime as a spell was cast, to a brilliant overture which only Buckbeak and Harry’s first flight together is worthy of, scenes that would have normally left you with a smile imprinted wide-mouths and goosebumps.

The audience added to the symphonic potion as well. As familiar characters debuted their appearance in the film, cheers erupted like Gryffindor had won the House Cup. (With the exception of Malfoy and gang, who quickly prompted a ruckus of boos and one lonely cheer.)

While the concert was not in the usual castle of Orchestra Hall, the Minneapolis Convention Center felt cozy and intimate with its perfect acoustics and ever-plush seats. Other than missing the iconic purple-and-blue-lit cube backdrop — a necessary absence when projecting a movie on a massive screen above — the venue was charming. The grand room had lights on the ceiling and sky-blue dome ceilings that emanated the feeling of the Hogwarts Great Hall.

Sarah Hicks, conductor of the show, walked on stage sporting Gryffindor pride and a Hedwig plush. The entire crowd knew this wasn’t going to be a stuffy rendition of Bach’s Prelude in C.

“We want to hear you during the movie,” Hicks said at the start of the show. “Get into it!”

That they did. Aside from the cheering and booing, gasps could be heard with the first entrance of Sirius Black, laughs rolled off the walls at Professor Trelawney’s premonitions and a roar of applause was prompted by Rubeus Hagrid, of course. 

It’s this sort of enthusiasm only “Harry Potter” could conjure. From the original Potter fans who were around to wait outside bookstores for releases to the new-age witches and wizards, we were all united over “the boy who lived” in that auditorium. 

Not to mention the slew of costumes and get-ups many show-goers boasted. Forget black-tie; cape, gown and scarf (with the classic striped pattern of each individual’s favorite house) was the go-to attire for the evening. It was Halloweekend, after all. 

The “Harry Potter” soundtrack is undoubtedly recognizable, and when the third installment was played by an orchestra with the caliber of Minnesota’s, it became monumental. With upcoming performances of “Jurassic Park”, “Beauty and the Beast”, “Star Trek” and “Star Wars,” the Minnesota Orchestra has struck Gringotts gold with this series. 

Grade: A

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