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Review: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in Concert

Music

Such is the immense power of the wizarding world created by JK Rowling that an amped-up Adelaide Symphony Orchestra providing a live soundtrack still played second fiddle – at least for some of the audience – to the on-screen adventures of Harry, Ron, Hermione and the other characters and creatures of Hogwarts.

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The second Harry Potter film – The Chamber of Secrets – was screened in high-definition at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre on Saturday night, with the ASO and a chorus made up of members of the Elder Conservatorium Chorale and the Graduate Singers bringing to life John Williams’ brilliant score.

The enthusiastic audience – many of whom came, Rocky Horror-style, dressed in costume – was here for another immersion in the rich Harry Potter world.

Conductor John Jesensky, an American film composer who has made something of a specialty of conducting live music for Harry Potter screenings, encouraged the audience to make noise – to cheer and boo. And they did, which was fine I suppose, but somewhat irritating when some individuals took to calling out lines, or heckling characters on the screen (why?).

The film, to this reviewer one of the better in the series, is packed with lots of fun: Harry escaping from his horrible Muggle family in a flying car, spooky events in the corridors of Hogwarts, giant spiders, and Kenneth Branagh as the mincing egotist, Gilderoy Lockhart.

Williams’ score is familiar but evocative and the ASO did its usual wonderful job in bringing it to life – from the subtle but spine-tingling introduction to “Hedwig’s Theme”, to rollicking passages accompanying wild action.

The ASO and chorus handled brilliantly and accurately the intricate task of matching the more subtle musical motifs with the action on screen. It’s a satisfying enterprise to watch and hear, even in the cavernous expanses of the Entertainment Centre.

So why did so many people leave during the credits, disrupting those who were still enjoying the music, and missing some great playing? I presumed the reason for buying a ticket was to enjoy the soundtrack in a new way but, for many, perhaps the motivation was different: it was simply to immerse themselves, once again, in a world that they love, in a rambunctious community setting, with the music a secondary consideration.

But the music played over the credits was wonderful – and those who left also missed the on-screen joke involving the aforementioned Lockhart, which comes at the very end.

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