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Opinion | I graduate in two weeks — a thank-you to my best friend
Opinion | I graduate in two weeks — a thank-you to my best friend
By Nada Abdulaziz, Staff Writer • 12:57 am

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Opinion | I graduate in two weeks — a thank-you to my best friend
Opinion | I graduate in two weeks — a thank-you to my best friend
By Nada Abdulaziz, Staff Writer • 12:57 am

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra enchants audiences with an immersive Harry Potter musical experience

The+Pittsburgh+Symphony+Orchestra+plays+along+with+%E2%80%9CHarry+Potter+and+the+Goblet+of+Fire%E2%80%9D+playing+on+the+screen+above+them.+
Pamela Smith | Contributing Editor
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra plays along with “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” playing on the screen above them.

In the highly anticipated fourth installment of the Harry Potter Film Concert Series, Potterheads, music lovers and symphony regulars gathered at Heinz Hall in downtown Pittsburgh on Jan. 20 and 21 for an unforgettable blend of film and live music. 

Warner Brothers and CineConcerts collaborated to create the “Harry Potter Film Concert,” offering fans a one-of-a-kind experience of the films. A live symphony orchestra plays along to the film’s score while projecting the film onto a movie theater style screen. Symphonies worldwide have brought the concert series to audiences, and this marks its fourth appearance at the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. 

Composer Patrick Doyle created “The Goblet of Fire” film’s score to accompany Harry’s fourth year at Hogwarts, where he competes in the dangerous Triwizard Tournament, all while Voldemort, with the help of his followers, the Death Eaters, hatch plans to rise again. Doyle’s musical compositions convey the fourth film’s shift to a darker tone that follows for the remainder of the series. 

Shelly Fuerte, vice president of popular programming at the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, explained the excitement seen at Heinz Hall for the concert series. 

“The audiences always go crazy for these concerts. The reception is wonderful. A mix of respectful and enthusiastic. Many audience members come in costumes and love the house banners in the lobby and the ties on the ushers,” Fuerte said.

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra plays along with “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” playing on the screen above them. (Pamela Smith | Contributing Editor)

Two concert attendees, Jillian Limroth from Philadelphia and Gina Chiaravalloti from Boston, were among many audience members who came adorned in Hogwarts robes. Prior to the performance, Chiaravalloti expressed her anticipation for the concert, sharing that they traveled to Pittsburgh specifically to attend the event. 

“I’ve also heard that the Pittsburgh Orchestra is a big deal and Heinz Hall is so monumental — it’s beautiful!” Chiaravalloti said.

Limroth explained that she expects the live accompaniment of the orchestra to enhance the entire experience of the film. 

“Not only is this one of both of our favorite movies, but I think the score in this is one of the best,” Limroth said. “I think it’s going to be even more magical.” 

Chiaravalloti added that she’s anticipating the darker scenes to be heightened by the score. “I’m excited for Voldemort to come back. The music in that scene is so intense and it’s going to be very ‘in your face’ — so I’m looking forward to that.”

Heinz Hall usher Paul Barkowitz, sporting a Hufflepuff tie, said many attendees were experiencing the symphony for the first time. He also expressed delight in seeing the passion that fans brought to the event.

“This is not designed to [be] your normal classical audience. I’m seeing a different audience than we usually get,” Barkowitz said. “There’s been crazy outfits — people dressed up. It’s just fun — whatever audience is here at Heinz Hall is here to have a good time.” 

Barkowitz also said a greater number of people are getting to experience the grandeur of Heinz Hall because of large-scale events like the Harry Potter concert series.

“I believe that coming to Heinz Hall for whatever you see here — that Heinz Hall is part of the experience,” Barkowitz said. 

As the orchestra began to play Doyle’s opening track, “The Story Continues,” the magic of the wizarding world immediately swept the audience away. Audience members cheered as beloved characters debuted on the screen, and many whistled for Robert Pattinson as Cedric Diggory. It was an interactive crowd, laughing at favorite lines. Whenever the orchestra resumed playing, silence came over the theater so the audience could hear every note.

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra plays along with “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” playing on the screen above them. (Pamela Smith | Contributing Editor)

During intermission, audience member Lisa Hommel shared her reaction. “Usually I’m not as aware of the instrumentalists because I’m so swept up in what’s going on — but to have that moment where the music rises and to see the instrumentalists in action, you know, it’s just really lovely,” Hummel said.

“In the comic moments I hear the flute or bassoon, making those kind of amusing little sounds and really enhancing what’s going on.”

Harry’s adventures in the Triwizard Tournament resumed after intermission, with pivotal moments such as the Yule Ball, the second task, the return of Voldemort and Cedric’s death, all heightened by the live orchestra. 

In a tragic moment of the story, Harry clings to Cedric’s dead body as Cedric’s father runs to his son. The stark contrast with the lively “Hogwarts’ March” music playing in the background created an absolutely heartbreaking scene. Sniffles echoed throughout the audience.

As soon as the orchestra finished the film’s final track “Magic Works,” the audience burst into cheers and a standing ovation. Numerous audience members were visibly moved, clapping with tears in their eyes or joyfully smiling. 

After the performance, audience member Rachel Szewczyk said the show was unforgettable. 

“I’m a fan of both Harry Potter and the symphony. I feel like the whole thing was so much more powerful with the accompaniment,” Szewczyk said. “I’ve seen the movie a million times, but to have that live music behind it — it was a pretty darn cool experience.”

About the Contributor
Casey Carter, Senior Staff Writer
Casey Carter is a sophomore communications major with certificates in digital media and sustainability. She is a firm believer that a good walk can solve almost anything and loves the outdoors. In her free time, she also enjoys going to coffee shops, thrifting and watching movies with her roommates.