Wingardium Leviosa. The Spokane Symphony’s performance of “Ancient Tales of Magic: Music of Harry Potter” lifted the audience from their seats this weekend at the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox.
This interactive symphony event drew in loyal Harry Potter fans, families, symphony admirers and local Spokane citizens looking for an artistic, unique experience.
“I have been a Harry Potter fan for over 20 years,” said Kristen Christiansen. “I think the creativity and imagination of this event is so fascinating. I can’t wait for the symphony.”
The elements that separate the Spokane Symphony’s concert from others are the incorporation of dancers, magicians, choirs and the interactive lobby events held for a full 90 minutes before the show.
“Symphonies all over the country are dying,” said Bethany Schoeff, the director of artistic administration and personnel manager for the Spokane Symphony. “People aren’t going to see them, because they think it’s boring to do. We want to change that persona.”
The Fox Theater is owned by the Spokane Symphony and this allows it to hold events in the building before the show, including interactive activities called “zones.” The Harry Potter event included zones like “The Cloak of Invisibility” where people can step in front of a green screen and disappear into Diagon Alley, or “Azkaban Prison” where people can take professional photos while pretending to be locked away in the wizarding world.
“We want it to be fun and something people want to bring their kids to,” Schoeff said. “This is a way to get young people in the door to symphony. We are hoping this inspires families to come to more events.”
Events like these take time and a team. Schoeff and the Spokane Symphony staff have been preparing for this event for almost 11 months, and this is the fourth year they have done the show.
It keeps getting bigger and better. Eighty choir members, 70 musicians, 22 actors, 10 dancers, 60 volunteers/staff members and a magician made this year’s Harry Potter show happen. New additions have been made every year so far and this year the choir was the new piece that added to the magic of the show.
Not only did the concert include local music groups, it also featured well-known guests. World-renowned pianist and Spokane native, Archie Chen, performed alongside the symphony in “Salamander Eyes” and “Jacob’s Bakery” from the movie “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” Chen also performed with opera vocalist, Derrick Parker, in the piece “Lacrimosa.” Lucy Paine, a student from the Professional Ballet School, was featured in a ballet dance performed during this song as well.
The Spokane community also had the opportunity to take part in creating the show this year after the announcement of the writing competition in June. The Spokane Symphony invited community members to create and submit an ancient tale that was before Harry Potter’s time and somehow connected to the wizarding world.
The grand prize winners’ stories were integrated into the show. The symphony performed original pieces inspired by the winning stories, and dancers, actors and a magician helped bring it to life.
Haunted Hallows, Halloween at Hogwarts, Music of Harry Potter and Ancient Tales of Magic have been the past themes since this show started in 2016. Staff and participants are already excited to work on next year’s theme and to begin arranging music. So, watch for tickets next fall to experience the magic of Harry Potter, right here in Spokane.
Accio, Music of Harry Potter Symphony tickets.
And look out for interactive symphonies happening downtown on First Avenue at the Fox Theater. Visit spokanesymphony.org for shows and more details.