Melbourne Symphony Orchestra: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 in Concert with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra – Live Review

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 sees Harry Potter enter his seventh year at Hogwarts. Perhaps by coincidence, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra also enters it’s seventh year of live concerts of the Harry Potter film series. On Friday, I attended Art Centre Melbourne’s Hamer Hall to witness the MSO take on the first part of Harry Potter’s final chapter.

Directed by David Yates, Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is the first instalment of the finale of the Harry Potter series.  Following the death of Albus Dumbledore, our favourite trio, Ron, Hermione, and Harry are set to embark on an important mission to track down and destroy the remaining Horcruxes. With Voldemort’s rise to power and growing numbers in the Dark Lord’s army of Death Eaters, time is against them.

The film concert series sees the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra play the score of a film, live, whilst the film is played on a screen above the orchestra. The concerts provide a unique perspective of the film and like all the films that preceded the Deathly Hallows Part 1, I never fully appreciated the score until I witnessed them live. This film performance is no exception. With conductor Vanessa Scammell at the helm, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra are set to perform for two and a half hours.

Part 1 is quite a dark film with the themes of war and loss, and it wasn’t until Vanessa Scammell introduced the film that I fully appreciated the role the music plays in the film. The aforementioned, dark mood of the score is set the instant the film begins with the Warner Bros. logo introduction. Whilst only a few bars, a slow tempo staccato like rendition of Hedwig’s theme on the celesta is enough to send a chill down my spine.

The chills and goosebumps continued to flow as the MSO got into full swing with the opening piece, ‘Obliviate’. The high tempo of the cellos and double bass’ set the tone of urgency, and how time is against them, whilst the violins play a much slower motif as Hermione and Harry say goodbye to their loved ones. Then, as the main title appears, the whole orchestra is in full swing with deep and brooding tones. Vanessa Scammell was right; the film is already very dark but the score from Alexandre Desplat really locks the darkness in. All of this emotion and feelings and we were only four minutes into the film, it could only get better from here!

The dark and brooding emotional rollercoaster continues throughout the entirety of the film, it isn’t without its uplifting moments. I found myself smiling from ear to ear when The Order appear at Privet Drive and Harry is greeted by his friends. However, as soon as Mad Eye Moody enters and discusses the gravity of the situation, the mood shifts again to one of seriousness. This constant battle between happiness and seriousness is one that Desplat expertly writes into his score.

What I truly admire about these performances by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra is the love and appreciation of the music that makes a film. Whether it be the very first time I have seen a film, or if I am revisiting them, I find myself more in tune with the role the music plays in shaping the tone and mood of the films I love. I think if it were not for this incredible concert series that I have attended over the last seven years, I would not have the same appreciation for these incredible film scores.

If you ever find yourself longing for a new appreciation of the films you have watched over and over, then a film concert by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra is the best thing you can do, and I envy those in the audience last night that were seeing the film for the very first time. To experience a film this way is truly special, and I will forever be grateful for the last seven years of Harry Potter Film Concerts brought to Melbourne via the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

Unfortunately, the current performances for the Deathly Hallows Part 1 are completely sold out. However, there are plenty of tickets available for the Part Two performances in early 2023 and I strongly suggest you snap up some tickets before that also sells out. You don’t want to miss the final performance of the Harry Potter series and I for one will most certainly be in attendance.

The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra have sold out shows for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 on Thursday the 22nd of September and Friday the 23rd of September at 7:30pm, and Saturday the 24th of September at 1pm.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 will be performing at Melbourne’s Hamer Hall at Arts Centre Melbourne across four concerts from the 30th of March to the 1st of April 2023. Tickets and more information are available from the MSO website. Do not miss out!

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