MANILA -- Manila’s die-hard Harry Potter fans were given a cinematic treat as the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra live-scored several screenings of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” at the Theater at Solaire over the weekend.
The ABS-CBN Philharmonic has played the movie's theme song in a previous concert that paid tribute to composer John Williams but at last weekend's special event, the orchestra opted to play William’s iconic score alongside the movie.
Right before the screening, Maestro Gerard Salonga stressed that this was no ordinary concert where the audience should be as quiet as possible. Rather, he persuaded the audience full of adults who grew up with the stories of the Boy Who Lived and their children to let loose.
“Cheer as loudly as you can for your favorite characters, laugh at the familiar moment on the screen, and no one’s going to get mad as John Williams’ beautiful music brings you to tears,” instructed Salonga.
After the cursory roll call of Hogwarts houses, the orchestra warmed up, and the gigantic LED panel sprang to life.
Live-scoring is not new as bands and orchestras were used to provide music before there was technology to sync sound to film.
Salonga displayed restraint, letting the orchestra play at a volume that did not drown out the dialogue. He effectively increased the energy during pivotal moments where the score took centerstage such as Harry’s first Quidditch match.
Though the film is 18 years old, it has aged well. It was a pleasure to see very young actors Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint playing Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ron Weasly respectively. Through this screening, Richard Harris giving a wise fatherly Albus Dumbledore, and Alan Rickman’s sinister sneer as Severus Snape were remembered.
It was a boisterous communal watching experience as the audience cheered and booed, even if they’ve seen the movie before.
One can appreciate the world building and the foundation that this movie did for JK Rowling’s Wizarding World multimedia empire. While Harry Potter started out as books, the movie is where the visual elements were first seen. These designs are now everywhere from theme parks to merchandising to computer games.
Having a live orchestra play alongside the film was the best way to rediscover “Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone.” Here’s wishing that the rest of the movies get the same treatment.