Utah Symphony creates magic with ‘Harry Potter’ performance

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By Robbie Tripp, Staff Writer, @trippswag

The Utah Symphony continued their “Classically Charged” series Tuesday evening at Abravanel Hall in downtown Salt Lake City with the opening night of “The Magic of Harry Potter,” a collection of compositions taken from the popular wizarding tale famously composed by classical music legend, John Williams.

The Utah Symphony, the state’s premier provider of orchestral and operatic art, holds more than 70 performances each regular season, along with over 200 educational performances each year. Currently, through the months of February and March, the Symphony’s “Classically Charged” series presents family friendly performances that showcase the Utah Symphony’s talent while providing well recognized musical pieces.

The opening night of “The Magic of Harry Potter” filled Abravanel Hall with a fascinating buzz as the crowd anticipated an evening of musical magic. The Utah Symphony certainly delivered with its stirring renditions of the music from the book-turned-film.

The performance started with a roaring execution of John Williams’ “Wondrous World of Harry Potter” and set the tone for the entire evening. Conductor Vladimir Kulenovic added witty and entertaining interactions with the audience in between each piece, giving the evening a less formal and more comfortable performance experience.

As an enjoyable variation from the expected routine of simply going through the film score’s catalogue, the show educated audience members to classical styles and motifs that the Harry Potter music replicated.  For example, Kulenovic introduced Sergei Prokokiev’s classic “Cinderella Waltz” from Cinderella Suite No.1 and then delighted the crowd with John Williams’ “Aunt Marge’s Waltz” as seen in the “Prisoner of Azkaban” movie. This provided not only a unique way of showcasing the film’s music but an introduction to classic pieces as well as a brief education in the genre.

With audience members of all ages in attendance—more than a few wrapped in the famous crimson and gold Gryffindor-inspired scarves—the fluttering violins and blaring horns of the performance painted an enchanted view of the wizarding world of Harry Potter.

The performance ended appropriately with “Hedwig’s Theme,” the song most popularly associated with Harry Potter, played at the beginning of every one of the saga’s eight films. The piece was executed flawlessly, so much so that it was half expected that clouds would appear in the rafters of Abravanel Hall and the Warner Bros. logo would descend on the audience.

After Kulenovic spoke to conclude the performance, in which he affectionately referred to the audience as “young wizards,” the Utah Symphony received a standing ovation, of which it was most certainly deserving.

Originally intended as a one night event, the Utah Symphony has added a second showing to its spellbinding performance, due to popular demand.  Tickets can be purchased online www.utahsymphony.org or by calling 801-355-2787.