Twenty Years of Magic

Two whole decades have passed since the publication of the first Harry Potter novel, yet the magic of the series continues to this day.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published on June 26th 1997, and almost exactly ten years later the seventh and final novel, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was published on July 21st 2007. However, this last instalment did not mark the end of the Harry Potter universe.

In addition to her seven bestselling novels, author J. K. Rowling released a further three books relating to the series; Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Quidditch Through The Ages and The Tales of Beedle the Bard before co-writing the story upon which Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is based.

Jack Thorne wrote the west-end play and its script went on to become the official eighth book in the Harry Potter series. Rowling wrote the story alongside Thorne and the play’s director, John Tiffany. The plot focuses on Harry Potter’s youngest son, Albus, and his attempt to go back in time and change the past. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child premiered at the Palace Theatre in London on July 30th 2016 with the script being published the next day so as to avoid revealing plot details before its debut.

Later that year Rowling went on to make her screenwriting debut with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. A Harry Potter spin-off inspired by her earlier book of the same name, FBAWTFT is the first in a series of five films. The story follows magical zoologist Newt Scamander as he explores 1920s New York City while searching for several loose magical creatures. As with Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the script for FBAWTFT was published a day after the film’s premiere on November 18th 2016. Its sequel is set to be released at the end of next year with a further three films planned for the series.

While fans of the Harry Potter franchise will have to wait for over a year for the next instalment in the series, this year they will be able to relive the magic of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone as the film is toured in concert.

J.K. Rowling’s characters and storylines were brought to life through the eight-part film series by Warner Bros. Pictures, the first of which, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, was released in 2001. The films star Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson as the three leading characters: Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger. The series also features performances from Dame Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman and Robbie Coltrane.

The films were highly successful, grossing $7.7 billion worldwide. The Harry Potter film franchise is the second highest grossing film franchise of all time, beaten only by the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 is the highest grossing film in the series, a title which was previously held by the first film in the series.

This year Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone will be shown in high-definition on a 40-foot screen while a live symphony orchestra performs John Williams’ score. The production is currently making its way across the world, visiting various countries in Great Britain, Europe and North and South America.

Justin Freer, who is behind the massive project, explained that he has always loved J.K. Rowling’s books and the accompanying films. He created, composed and produced Harry Potter in Concert, and is also the president of CineConcerts.

He said: “The wizarding world is one that’s filled with an immense amount of magic and escapism, adventure and mystery, and these are all things that we connect to as human beings.

“The music by John Williams transports you into this world and I’ve always hoped that this could be something that we could produce and preserve and be able to bring to audiences worldwide.”

Freer initially founded CineConcerts four years ago and has worked on similar projects featuring films such as It’s a Wonderful Life, Titanic and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. He explained that every film he has produced for live presentation has its own challenges and described each one as highly unique pieces of art.

He said: “The process is fairly complicated; it’s a great exercise in detail, craftsmanship and patience. A lot of times the music scores are not all that well preserved – sometimes they are, it depends on how many changes were made in the recording stage, it changes from film to film how much effort is needed to restore these – but in the case of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, it took about four months to restore everything so that it was in proper concert presentation.

“Of course, when they’re recording these music scores, they’re never intended to be performed live. There’s a lot of nuance that comes with presenting the music in a form where orchestras and conductors can get through it, synchronised to picture from beginning to end so that everything matches.

“Everywhere we go there’s a new variable, the acoustic environment changes everywhere. Harry Potter comes with a whole range of challenges that don’t exist in other films. John Williams is one of the great composers of our craft, not just of our generation but of all generations. His music is very well thought out, and it really demands great care from the conductor, from the musicians onstage, so the focus required from this one is significant. With Harry Potter, you really do have to invest yourself 100% in the music.”

Freer revealed that he hopes the next seven concerts will be unveiled over the next three to four years. The concert tour is currently set to run until the end of this year, with more dates still to be announced.

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