Even the most ardent Harry Potter fans might forget who wrote the music to the original film back in 2002.
Show up at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center on Saturday night, however, watch "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" on the big screen, and listen to the Philadelphia Orchestra perform live with the film, you might remember that John Williams was responsible for the music, earning him one of his five Oscars for Best Score.
"It's absolutely spectacular to watch the film on a large screen and at the same time listen to the music live that was written for the film," said SPAC President and CEO Elizabeth Sobol. "You hear the score and appreciate it in a way you never did before."
The event is the first of three performances by the Philadelphia Orchestra billed as "Cinema Saturdays." Another Williams' Oscar winner, the score for the 1977 original Star Wars film, "Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope," will be performed by the orchestra along with the film on Aug. 11. The orchestra will then close out its SPAC 2018 summer season by playing the score to "The Red Violin," with a special appearance by violinist Joshua Bell.
"We've had films for a number of years with the orchestra, but this year we decided to make it special and make a series out of it," said Sobol. "There are a number of good reasons to do that. People love watching the films with the live music, and this kind of event brings in our biggest crowds of the orchestra season. This also brings in families, so what we're doing is trying to cultivate the next generation of people who will love coming to SPAC and will love listening to the orchestra."
The idea of live orchestras accompanying film viewings has become quite popular in the past few years with the help of new technology making it easier for musicians to keep in sync with what's happening on the screen. In 2015, major venues such as the Hollywood Bowl, Lincoln Center and London's Royal Albert Hall all added film and orchestra pairings to their schedule. Justin Freer, who will conduct Saturday night's Harry Potter concert, is a native of southern California who along with his considerable composing resume has also started a business called CineConcerts, a company "dedicated to the preservation and concert presentation of film, television and media music set to picture."
Constantine Kitsopolous will be conductor for the Aug. 11 "Star Wars" concert, while Michael Stern will conduct the Aug. 18 event, "The Red Violin," with the music of composer John Corigliano and a special appearance by Bell.
"John Williams is obviously one of the greatest American composers, so you can't go wrong playing his music," said Sobol. "John Corigliano is another great American composer still alive, and we have a personal connection to 'The Red Violin' because of Josh Bell's appearance here. It's also Corigliano's 80th birthday and the 20th anniversary of the film."
"The Red Violin" is a 1998 Canadian film directed by Francis Girard and starring Samuel L. Jackson. Spanning four centuries and five countries, the film tells the story of a red-colored violin and its many owners.The sound track for the film, which includes violin solos by Bell, earned Corigliano his only Oscar for Best Score. He has also won a Pulitzer Prize and five Grammys.
"To watch a film with live musical accompaniment, you usually have to watch an old silent film, and if you're at a nice theater you might hear the piano player adding some music," said Sobol. "This experience is something totally different. When you hear a score this way, you really appreciate the lushness and the power of the writing. Much of the time the soundtrack to a film is almost subliminal for some people. That won't be the case Saturday night."
'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone'
WHAT: A film viewing with the Philadelphia Orchestra providing the score
WHERE: Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Spa State Park
WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday
HOW MUCH: $113-$18
MORE INFO: Visit www.spac.org, or call (518) 584-9330