Casting a spell with live music and a beloved film

Playing movie scores is challenging because you have to be flexible and adjust tempos within scenes, but you also do not have the luxury of being able to slow down scenes that are difficult. The rehearsals tend to be intense because you don’t wait for the action in the movie to pass by, you just flip to the next scene in the music. This past weekend, the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra performed the live score to Harry’s third year at Hogwarts for “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban In Concert” as part of the Harry Potter Concert Series ™.

There is a large orchestra on the stage for the John Williams scores, so set up is challenging. This movie features a chorus, so space had to be left for them. As a percussionist, we literally spend hours loading equipment and arranging ourselves so that we can get to each instrument. We have five percussionists, plus a timpanist, so we have a lot of instruments in our area. 

Quite the set up for just one of the many percussionists required to play the score of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban In Concert (Feb. 1 & 2 with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra).

At our Young People’s Concerts this fall, it only took four notes for the kids to ooh and aah when they heard the Harry Potter theme. It’s such a magical theme, and so recognizable. It’s an interesting melody because it feels kind of magical, and it takes a couple of unexpected turns. Read that post here, including a video clip with the moment they recognize those famous notes.

Harry Potter Concert Series with the KSO on Feb. 1 & 2 at the Civic Auditorium
Percussionist Clark Harrell prepares his score for the many notes in the Harry Potter Concert Series.

It’s great music and we had just two rehearsals to put it together, so we have to stay focused. At the end of the show, it’s a nice feeling to have been a part of someone’s entertainment and been given a chance to evoke happiness, terror, comedy, and hopefully, triumph. Onto make more magic – I mean, music!

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