Cincinnati Pops Orchestra performs “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”

Brass musicians of the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra

By Tim Walker
Has it really been sixteen years since the film “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” first graced the screens of theaters worldwide, filling countless theater seats with fans of J.K.  Rowling’s bespectacled young wizard-in-training? As the world’s highest-grossing film of 2001, and as the film that launched one of cinema’s most enduring and popular franchises, there can be no doubt that the first Harry Potter film holds a special place in the hearts of film and book lovers everywhere.

Now, in celebration of both the popular first installment of the series and composer John Williams’ much beloved music from the film, which was nominated for a 2001 Academy Award for Best Original Score, the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra will present the first performances of its Harry Potter Film Series. The concerts, which will take place on December 28th and 29th beginning at 7:30pm and on December 30th at 7:00pm, will feature the orchestra playing along with the film, performing the score live as the audience views the film on screen. The Pops Orchestra will be conducted by Keitaro Harada for the three performances, which will take place at Cincinnati Music Hall on Elm Street.

“There’s a lot of great orchestral music that is written for film,” says Chris Pinelo, Vice President of Communications for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the Cincinnati Pops, when speaking with the Dayton City Paper recently. “And one of the most iconic American composers is John Williams. The Cincinnati Pops has a great history of performing and really being a great champion of many of his works. Over the course of his career, Williams has composed the scores for films such as ‘Star Wars’, ‘Jaws’, ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’, ‘Jurassic Park’, ‘E.T.’, ‘Schindler’s List’… the list goes on and on. And ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’ is one of those films.”

“He is really a truly iconic composer,” continues Pinelo. “For many people, he’s written the soundtrack for America.”

John Williams composed the film scores not just for the first film, but for the first three films in the Harry Potter franchise, and he is responsible for the beloved “Hedwig’s Theme”, which is used in all of the Harry Potter films.

The three performances will feature a screening of the first Harry Potter film, with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra playing the orchestral score live along with the movie. A film’s score obviously contributes much to the advancement of the story, to the mood and sense of tension within the scenes, and to the audience’s appreciation for the material. The idea of a live orchestra playing along with a film, and with the conductor having to direct the musicians and pace the music to match the scenes, would obviously present quite a challenge for even the most competent and professional group of musicians.

“I think it’s fantastic to be able to see the film and actually have a live orchestra perform the score along with the film,” continues Pinelo. “It really highlights and showcases the music, and gives you a sense of the depth, the color and timbre, of all that sound and orchestration. What better way to experience this film than with the Cincinnati Pops performing the score live while you watch?”

The conductor for the Harry Potter performances, Keitaro Harada, was born in Tokyo in 1985, and he is the Associate Conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. He also serves as Associate Conductor of the Arizona Opera and the Richmond Symphony Orchestra in Virginia, and he is the Principal Guest Conductor of Arizona’s Sierra Vista Symphony Orchestra. The former Music Director & Conductor of the Phoenix Youth Symphony, Harada was selected in 2013 by the League of American Orchestras, as one of only six conductors, for the Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview, a prestigious showcase that occurs biennially in an effort to promote gifted, emerging conductors to orchestra industry leaders. “Keitaro Harada is an amazing conductor,” says Chris Pinelo. “And he has been working diligently to ensure that these performances are a success. He is currently travelling, and just posted a photo on his Twitter account of himself studying the film and the film score.”

There is no doubt, with the popularity of the franchise’s characters and the viewing public’s continued fascination with the films themselves, that the concerts will be memorable for all in attendance. “These are the tunes that we associate with orchestras, and they immediately evoke images in our heads, shared memories, both current and from our childhoods in many cases,” says Pinelo. For all who wish they had attended the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, whether they be from the House of Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, or Slytherin ,there’s no denying that the Cincinnati Music Hall will be the place for you to be on December 28th, 29th, and 30th.

The Cincinnati Pops Orchestra Performance accompanying ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’ will be performed on December 28-30, 2017.  Cincinnati Music Hall is located at 1241 Elm St. For more information please visit or call 513.381.3300.

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Tim Walker is 51 and a writer, DJ, and local musician. He lives with his wife and their two children in Dayton, where he enjoys pizza, jazz, and black T-shirts. Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Walker at

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