A "magical blend" of music and cinematography will join together next week, as the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas brings the music of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone alive in a performance at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion in Rogers.
The musicians, under the direction of guest conductor Shih-Hung Young, will perform the musical score - written by John Williams - as images from the movie play on a screen above their heads.
For Young, the concert provides an "amazing" opportunity to work on a John Williams score, not only as a conductor, but also as a concert violinist.
"Hearing the orchestra play and see the scenes is amazing," Young said. "Being able to make the score happen, and make it come to life is the joy of my job."
Young, who has served on faculty at The Juilliard School Pre-College Division since 1995, recently joined the Harry Potter film tour.
He's conducted more than six performances of the production in the past two months.
While this is the first time he has conducted along with a Harry Potter film, Young has established himself as a force in the genre which combines classical music and film.
He also serves as a conductor for Howard Shore’s Academy Award-winning Lord of the Rings: Live to Projection and Lord of the Rings Symphony, conductor for Hans Zimmer’s award winning score Gladiator: Live, and collaborated with Golden Globe winner Lisa Gerrard, and Nina Rota’s The Godfather Live.
Young said as he conducts, the screen becomes his oracle, which guides him throughout the performance.
"We both co-exist," Young said, adding through "flashes and punches" he is able to "guide the orchestra to make music" naturally.
Young is the only person in the orchestra, who has the "visual clicks."
"It's my job to sync and guide the orchestra along with the film," Young said. "So the audience has the best, magical experience.
"It's stressful, to be able to freely keep your mind in the real time of the movie, without losing the focus of the musicians. It's a constant struggle throughout the performance."
Young said the experience of combining cinema and music is indescribable.
"We give the audience a special experience they've never had before," Young said.
Young said a new generation of music lovers has been introduced to the symphony as film scores are performed live in this manner.
He said the nature of the movie draws in families, often becoming a child's first introduction to an orchestra.
"The most satisfying aspect of the job, is to present to a new audience," Young said.
Young said he will have two rehearsals with the SoNA, consisting of two and a half to three hours of preparation each, prior to the show, which he said is a "a very short amount of time" to cover the score.
Young said it's "refreshing" to work with a variety of orchestras on this tour.
"I'm able to bring and share the music of John Williams with the orchestras I'm working with," Young said. "[I'm] able to make the magic of Harry Potter work, providing a connection with the audience."
In the end, Young hopes the experience is enjoyed, by both the musicians and the audience.
"John Williams score is so iconic," Young said. "Everybody knows it, and everybody expects a certain amount [from it].
"The fact that they are able to bring it live, is almost like having a behind the scenes show, as the movie goes on."
He said he can often hear the audience reacting to specific moments in the film, be it serious or intense.
While it's hard to choose, Young said one of his favorite moments in the evening comes as Harry Potter and the Gryffindor team take the field at the start of a quidditch match, in the second act.
"I want people to come, and enjoy this new experience," Young said, adding the power of the music and the film score is something he would like everyone to enjoy.
More about Young
Young, Chinese conductor and violinist from Taiwan, was born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and later came to the United States.
He received his bachelor's and master's degrees in music from The Juilliard School and a doctorate of music from State University of New York at Stony Brook.
An active conductor of symphonic, film scores and operas, and a performer of solo and chamber music recitals, Young has worked with orchestras in Munich, Czech Republic, Moscow, Melbourne, Perth Australia, Ravinia Festival in Chicago, Philadelphia Orchestra, San Jose California, Charleston, Milwaukee, Raleigh North Carolina, Bulgaria, Madrid, Barcelona, Milan Italy and Santiago Chile.
If You Go
The performance of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's' Stone in Concert, takes place at 7 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 7, a the Walton Arkansas Music Pavilion.
Tickets range from $20 to $75, and may be purchased in person at the Walmart AMP Box Office in Rogers or the Walton Arts Center Box Office in Fayetteville, by calling 479-443-5600 or visiting www.amptickets.com.
Additional information about the concert series may be found at http://harrypotterinconcert.com.