Conducter John Jesensky can break the score to “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” down into three essential notes.
“G, E flat, C – that is ‘The Sorcerer’s Stone’ right there,” says the Connecticut native referring to John Williams’ brilliant soundtrack to the film that introduced the world to the boy with the lightning scar.
“He is able to do so much with so little,” remarks Jesensky of the composer behind the scores to films like “Star Wars” and “Jaws” (another work that set the tone of a film with only a few notes).
Jesensky will be conducting an 85-piece orchestra through every note of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” as the film screens this Saturday at the Arsht Center. The performance is part of a series by CineConcerts, a company that presents live presentations of iconic film scores for audiences to enjoy.
“I love ‘The Sorcerer’s Stone’ because its got such very dark themes,” he explained while taking a break from the current Harry Potter tour of Scandinavia. “When Harry and Hagrid go into the vault, it’s the first time the audience hears this first dark undertone to the film. It’s just three notes and he’s able to convey this dark, scary menace.”
Conducting the score to the Harry Potter films is a dream come true for Jesensky.
“Although it sounds like I’m making it up, I really owe Harry Potter for making me want to conduct music,” says the NYU grad. “Harry Potter came out when I was a sophomore in high school. I was vaguely interested in classical music when I got the soundtrack. I would put it on blast. I would pretend like I was conducting.”
Film scores are fast becoming a point of entry for younger audiences into the world of orchestral music, a genre viewed as the realm of the buttoned-up and gray of hair (an example: a 2010 study by the Australian Bureau of Statistics found the largest proportion of classical concert-goers are aged between 65 and 74). But according to Justin Freer, the founder and President of CineConcerts, shows like the Harry Potter Live series have the potential to hook the young fans and show them that orchestral music is relevant.
“Younger people who have never seen this kind of project come to these shows and are blown away how immersed they are,” said the California native. “At the end of the day there are a lot of new patrons coming back to symphony halls. We’re experiencing this at a very advanced level with Harry Potter because of how loyal the fans are. If we’ve inspired one or two film musicians, it’s worth it.”
CineConcerts is also a boon for local musicians; touring with almost 100 artists is cost prohibitive so they hire local professionals to perform the scores in each location. The show in Miami will be comprised of the city’s greatest musicians, says Freer. “For that reason we are looking forward to working with a very high octane group.”
Diehard Harry Potter fans will enjoy the chance to revisit J.K. Rowling’s world in a new way. Jesensky says seeing the film with an accompanying orchestra is an unforgettable experience: “When you see a live orchestra, you don’t get the same sound like from your CD or your iPod. It’s actual air moving in sound waves. It’s an entirely new experience for every one to have that extra set of energy.”