“Dark and difficult times lie ahead. Soon we must all face the choice between what is right, and what is easy.” Dumbledore’s warning acts as a harbinger of a tonal shift to the Harry Potter series in the 4th installment, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.” This fan favorite received an exciting enhancement this past week at Wolf Trap Performing Arts Center, courtesy of the National Symphony Orchestra.
If you are one of the few people who hasn’t heard the name Harry Potter, his story of magic and bravery captivated a generation, and continues to cast its spell on people of all ages. He is a young orphan, who finds out on his 11th birthday that he is a wizard, and there is an entire magical world that he has never known. He goes off to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to learn to use his powers responsibly, with plenty of adventure along the way. He is sorted into one of the 4 houses at Hogwarts: Gryffindor (Harry’s house), Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin.
Wolf Trap was absolutely packed for this special presentation, and both the lawn and seats inside the Filene Center were full to the brim with fans of all ages.
In this installment of the juggernaut franchise, Harry finds himself thrust into an international magical competition called the Triwizard tournament. Two other schools of witchcraft and wizardry join the gang at Hogwarts for the year; the lovely ladies of the Beauxbaton Academy of Magic from France and the fierce men from Bulgaria’s Durmstrang Institute of Magic. Only students over 17 are permitted to put their names into the Goblet of Fire and receive consideration to be a participant in this treacherous competition, much to the ire of some of Harry’s friends. However, after three champions are selected, including a brave young man named Cedric Diggory to represent Hogwarts, Harry’s name also comes out of the fire. Harry is confused and worried, as he did not put his name in the cup, and this sets him on a dangerous path that leads to his worst nightmare- a confrontation with the dark wizard Voldemort.
The National Symphony Orchestra joined with Cineconcerts again to present the full score of “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” while the film played on the big screens. The NSO started this series two summers ago at Wolf Trap, with the first film in the series, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” and followed up with the second film, “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” over Thanksgiving weekend at the Kennedy Center. The third film, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” was also at Wolf Trap last summer, and it has been announced that the next film in the series, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” will be presented this coming November at the Kennedy Center.
Wolf Trap was absolutely packed for this special presentation, and both the lawn and seats inside the Filene Center were full to the brim with fans of all ages. The show got off to a great start by showing a featurette about the music in the Harry Potter films. This included interviews with star Daniel Radcliffe, and well as the composer of the main theme, John Williams. It also had an interview with the composer of the score from “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” Nicholas Hooper. The audience was able to gain valuable insight into the inspiration for this music before having the opportunity to hear it in its entirety.
Steven Reineke conducted this performance and acted as the evening’s charming host. Many fans like to sort themselves into the Hogwarts houses and have fierce house pride. At the start of the performance, Reineke asked the fans in the audience which houses they represented, resulting in loud cheers. He also encouraged the audience to react to the film throughout the evening with cheers, boos, laughter, and applause. We happily obliged, cheering both the film characters as well as the excellent performance of the orchestra. This film has scenes of serious action, moments of conflict, and scenes of real tragedy, all intensified by the music accompanying them. The NSO’s performance was a fantastic reminder of both the breadth and power of the music in this film and how much it enhances the emotions portrayed on screen. Some highlights were the tense music that played during Harry’s first task in the tournament, where he faced a fantastic beast. It also provided a poignant tone at the end of the film, as the characters mourned a great loss.
The performance was also greatly benefited by the beautiful venue of Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts. The screens were nice and big so that everyone all the way back through the lawn seats could see things easily. The warm wood of the stage, strategically placed speakers, and architecture of the amphitheater made for surprisingly good acoustics for a fully outdoor theater. The staff was also so friendly and helpful; the entire experience was top-notch. It really is the premiere summer entertainment venue.
Finally, this series is such a great way for the NSO to continue introducing the power and magic of instrumental music to different audiences. It’s wonderful to use these well-loved films to show young people that so-called “classical music” can be enjoyable and accessible. This pairs well with the other live film performances that the NSO has been presenting of late, as well as the Ben Folds’ helmed Declassified series, to open up orchestral music to the masses. It is truly one of the things that make the NSO one of the best orchestras out there; that they are committed to producing music that can be enjoyed by so many different kinds of people. It is an important commitment to the arts and the community.
Running Time: Approximately 2 and 1/2 hours, with one 15 minute intermission.
Advisory: The film did have a few frightening moments that might be too much for young children.
While this performance has concluded, click here for information on tickets for the next NSO-accompanied Harry Potter film.
For information on upcoming shows at Wolf Trap, including a “Sound of Music” film sing-a-long, click here.