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Symphony Nova Scotia brings the music of Harry Potter to Halifax

Conductor says it’s important to hear a film score live

3 min read
caption Symphony Nova Scotia rehearses for their performance of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.
Jakob Postlewaite

The magical music of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is coming to Halifax on Friday.

Symphony Nova Scotia will perform composer John Williams’ original score during a screening of the film at the Scotiabank Centre. The symphony has partnered with Cine Concerts to bring this performance to Halifax.

John Jesensky, who will conduct Symphony Nova Scotia’s performance, said it’s important to hear the score of a film live, rather than just going to a theatre.

“It’s the same as seeing your favorite musician live,” said Jesensky, a conductor with Cine Concerts, at a rehearsal for the performance. “There’s a different experience, acoustically.”

Jesensky said this allows people to feel the music more than listening to it through a speaker or headphones.

Bringing a new viewing and listening experience isn’t the only goal of the concert tour. Jesensky said this type of performance is a way to expose people to types of music they may not have been interested in.

Jesensky said many people view classical music performances as intimidating and too highbrow. He disagrees.

“You’re all welcome, you can all enjoy it,” he said.

caption John Jesensky will conduct Symphony Nova Scotia for its performance Friday.
Jakob Postlewaite

Symphony Nova Scotia is also keen to expose more people to classical music.

“It’s going to help us reach people that might not have initially thought to look to the symphony,” said Cassie Dresch, communications manager for Symphony Nova Scotia.

Dresch said that over the last few years the symphony has been trying to break down the barriers that might be keeping people from experiencing symphony music. Part of that plan means offering programs directed at younger audiences.

Dresch sees the Harry Potter performance as a way to do that.

“You start with Harry Potter and think, ‘that’s really cool,’” said Dresch. “Then you come and listen to a classical concert. You might fall in love with a different composer.”

The Importance of John Williams

Jesensky got into orchestra music after seeing John Williams perform live.

Williams composed the score for the first four Harry Potter films and is considered a legend in the film world. He composed the scores to Superman, Jaws, Star Wars and many other iconic movies.

Jesensky said Williams knows how to create music to make the audience feel what the characters feel.

“You can’t help but be in awe as Harry sees Hogwarts for the first time or flies on a broom for the first time,” said Jesensky. “You feel genuinely thrilled but also a little scared and nervous for Harry at the same time.”

For this tour, Cine Concerts partnered with Warner Brothers Pictures and even received the blessing of Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling.

Symphony Nova Scotia’s performance of The Philosopher’s Stone will be the only one in Atlantic Canada, and one of seven performances across the country.

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About the author

Jakob Postlewaite

Jakob Postlewaite is a fourth-year journalism student at the University of King's College. He has worked as a columnist and reporter for the...

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