Harry Potter is a cultural phenomenon. With the entire franchise’s worth surpassing $25 billion, you’d be hard-pressed to meet anyone who hasn’t felt the impact of J.K. Rowling’s influential series. While Harry Potter has a special meaning for us elder Millennials who grew up with the books, last night’s showing of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix—accompanied by the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO)—proves that Harry Potter has long-term staying power. This NSO Pops concert provides a fun and unique twist on family movie night, attracting a diverse audience of young and old alike.
The beautiful Kennedy Center Concert Hall was fitted with a giant screen on which the movie was projected in HD. The NSO, under the charge of Conductor Steve Reineke, was on stage. This setting was not distracting in the slightest. In fact, the NSO played so well throughout most of the film that they blended in completely, really only coming to the fore during moments of dramatic tension or complicated accompaniment.
The excitement of the diverse array of fans in the room was palpable as soon as the lights went down. Wine-wielding people in their 30s experienced the show alongside youngsters in full Harry Potter regalia. The film’s score, composed by Nicholas Hooper, takes many of the familiar elements from John Williams’ score of the first three movies and reworks them to fit the dramatic tension of the fifth. The familiar trill of “Hedwig’s Theme” is, of course, woven into the very first moments Order of the Phoenix. You can’t miss it.
Order of the Phoenix itself is a tricky movie to classify. It has all of the beloved characters, humor and adventure of the other volumes, but often functions as something of a filler. However, the introduction of Luna Lovegood and the presence of fan favorites like Sirius Black elevate this film above your normal adventure flick. The final showdown in the Department of Mysteries—even considering its tragic conclusion—was a highlight of this concert. The fast-paced action allowed for the skilled musicians of the NSO to show how smoothly they could pull off a tight performance in an environment that provided a few more distractions than usual.
While introducing the show, Conductor Steve Reineke made a point to ask about Hogwarts Houses—I advise anyone attending these concerts in the future not shy away from showing their House pride! He also invited the audience to participate by cheering, booing, or providing whatever callbacks they thought necessary throughout the film. Breaking from the somewhat oppressive atmosphere of a movie theater, attendees in the Concert Hall took his permission to heart. This created quite a few humorous moments, particularly when the saccharine, sadistic villainess Professor Umbridge appeared. The joy of the audience in being able to express their emotional responses to the film brought the whole experience to the next level.
The NSO Pops: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in Concert is not your average movie night. Generations raised on Harry Potter and those who are just being introduced to the magic will love this event. The NSO Pops has provided the perfect Harry Potter-themed holiday excursion for the whole family.
Running Time: Two and a half hours, including one 15-minute intermission.
NSO Pops: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in Concert plays through December 1, 2019, at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts—2700 F Street Northwest in Washington, D.C. Tickets can be purchased online.