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Harry Potter film to be screened with live score

Fans of Harry Potter can experience one of the movies in a new way this weekend — with live music.

On Saturday and Sunday, the Columbus Association of the Performing Arts will screen “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” at the Ohio Theater on a 40-foot, high-definition screen. The Columbus Symphony Orchestra will play the soundtrack to the movie live.

The Harry Potter Film Concert Series started in June of 2016 by CineConcerts, a producer of live music, as a way to bring a new twist to an already beloved series, conductor John Jesensky said.

“We started the show with Warner Brothers and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter,” Jesensky said. “We really wanted to bring J.K. Rowling’s work and the wonderful films to an audience in a different way.”

Jesensky said screening modern films with a live score is was not common at the time of the original film releases.

“It’s a very recent thing where we’re realizing the full potential of having that new experience come to audiences all over the world really, so that’s really why we’ve only started,” Jesensky said. “It’s really a bright future where we can continue with this going forward.”

While the tour may have just started, Jesensky has already brought Harry Potter to stages worldwide including Finland, Germany and Austria, as well as various states across the U.S.

Jesensky said while the performance may change theater by theater, the feeling the crowd gets when watching the performance is just the same.

“Everyone is just so enthusiastic about this, no matter where you go in the world,” Jesensky said “There’s a kind of electricity that you get watching a live performance…. there’s this sort of raw but powerful and sometimes subtle energy that’s there and just goes throughout the whole room and there’s this almost conversation between the audience and orchestra.”

Jesensky said the Columbus Symphony was a perfect fit to put on the show.

“In terms of working with the Columbus Symphony, we really look for the premier orchestra in whatever environment or area that we are going to and they were it,” Jesensky said.

Alicia Hui, principal second violinist of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, said the excitement goes both ways.  

“To be able to actually play the music in its entirety along with the movie, that’s something that personally I’ve never done before and I really look forward to that process,” Hui said.

Hui said the symphony will have its first rehearsal on Friday before taking the stage on Saturday and Sunday night to perform.

She said part of the process involves using a click track, or cues to keep the music consistent with the film, which is not used for typical symphony performances. The added component of matching sound to the screen is one she said gave her more of an appreciation for movie scores, and she expects to see the same reaction from the crowd.   

“Anything can happen when it’s live,” Hui said. “I feel like (the audience will) have a new appreciation of what goes on with the music, like who’s doing what and how it correlates with the movie.”

If the Columbus performance pans out like the performances prior, the crowd will have a positive reaction, Jesensky said.

“You hear people cheer in the concerts unlike anything I’ve really experienced as a conductor before it’s quite a, not to use a cliché term, but it’s a magical sort of experience,” he said.

Jesensky said he expects CineConcerts to continue the tour, eventually returning to cities to perform live scores from each of the sequels.  

The performance will have two showings on March 25, one starting at 2 p.m. and the other at 8 p.m., with another showing on March 26 at 1 p.m. at the Ohio Theater located at 39 E. State St. Tickets start at $49.50 and may be purchased online, over the phone via the CAPA ticket center or at the CAPA ticket center at the Ohio Theater.

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