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Old 06-25-2019, 04:37 PM
katiebell katiebell is offline
Post 'Order of the Phoenix' concert at Hollywood Bowl this weekend, conductor interview

The Harry Potter Film Concert Series will be at the Hollywood Bowl this Saturday, June 29, with a live orchestra playing composer Nicholas Hooper’s music to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix as the film runs on big screens. SnitchSeeker got the chance to speak with the concert’s conductor, Sarah Hicks, who has been with the concert series since nearly the start, has conducted five of the films so far and is clearly a huge Potter fan! Below is footage of Hicks rehearsing the Order of the Phoenix score, as well as other promos for previous concerts.

Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster.

SnitchSeeker: The Harry Potter Film Concert series started three years ago in June 2016. How long have you been conducting for them?
Sarah Hicks:
I started conducting the Harry Potter series in late 2016 and have been performing them ever since.

SnitchSeeker: Which of the Potter films have you conducted for and at how many venues?
Sarah Hicks:
I’ve done every movie up to and including Order of the Phoenix – (Half-Blood Prince is on my docket for the fall). As for venues? Hmmmm…quite a few! From Minneapolis to Montreal, Lisbon to Brisbane.

SnitchSeeker: Can you describe the experience for the audience? What do you hope fans will get out of watching the concerts?
Sarah Hicks:
I think watching a film with live orchestra is a completely different experience from just seeing the film; when music is live, created in front of you by a full orchestra, it’s so much more visceral and powerful and emotional. When you see a film in theaters, it’s difficult to realize how important the film score is to the experience of the movie, but when the musicians are front and center it’s easy to understand how crucial the music is in creating excitement, supporting the narrative, enhancing emotions. I hope fans will truly feel the power of this film score and come away with a new appreciation of live music in general, and symphonic music specifically!

SnitchSeeker: What was the biggest challenge you’ve faced in conducting Order of the Phoenix?
Sarah Hicks:
As with any live film experience, the biggest challenge is in coordinating the movie and the music – a technical feat achieved through the use of a special conductor’s video on a screen in front of me which feeds me a constant stream of information, from number of seconds to an upcoming cue to which beat of which measure I’m on as it’s happening. It’s a lot of information to process while I’m also trying to keep track of the written score on my music stand and respond to the musicians in front of me.

SnitchSeeker: Have you conducted at outdoor venues as well? If so, how do they compare to indoor ones? Any challenges?
Sarah Hicks:
I’ve conducted in countless outdoor venues, from a Roman coliseum in southern France to a closed-off avenue in St. Petersburg, Russia, that housed an audience of nearly 100,000! Outdoor venues present some challenges – windy nights where pages go flying comes to mind, as well as a dog that once wandered across stage – but I think a lot of the greatest challenges are for the engineers at the sound boards who are making sure that the amplification and mix are working throughout a large outdoor area.

SnitchSeeker: Can you talk about what it’s been like conducting the Order of the Phoenix compared to say Chamber of Secrets or any other films you may have done?
Sarah Hicks:
What’s interesting for me about this film for me is really noticing that as this series progresses, the story becomes progressively darker, and in Order of the Phoenix I’m especially aware of how that darkness needs to be counterbalanced by moments of light and love, of which there are many (I think about the fireworks scene, or any quiet interaction between Harry and Sirius).

SnitchSeeker: What is it like conducting a score by John Williams versus a score by Nicholas Hooper?
Sarah Hicks:
My favorite thing about John’s scores are the epic sweep and the lush melodies - he’s the master of brilliant orchestration and the big uplifting tune. I find Nick’s music, although it of course includes exciting huge orchestral moments, to be more intimate in its approach. I think he’s able to really delve into the mood of the scene and into each individual character – I’m thinking in particular of his theme for Dolores Umbridge which manages to be perkily bouncy and vaguely sinister all at the same time.

SnitchSeeker: What was your favorite piece of Nicholas Hooper’s to conduct from Order of the Phoenix? Do you have a favorite scene from the film, as well?
Sarah Hicks:
I love the fireworks scene (listen for all the percussion in the middle bit, he uses a lot of different instruments!). I also love the music right after Sirius tells Lucius Malfoy to “Get away from my godson” - it’s battle music that rocks! My favorite scene changes, but right now I really love the bit when Harry says “I must not tell lies” before Umbridge gets carted off by the centaurs.

SnitchSeeker: Since you work with different orchestras for each venue, how do you go about the rehearsal – working with those different teams?
Sarah Hicks:
It’s actually surprisingly similar – music is a universal language and we’re all professionals on stage, so from a basic standpoint for me it’s just about getting to know how a particular orchestra likes to work. Some orchestras like a little more explanation, others want to go through music without talk so they can get a sense of the flow. In the end we just want to make great music, so it helps that we all have the same end goal!

SnitchSeeker: What has been your favorite piece from all the scores you’ve done so far?
Sarah Hicks:
That’s kind of like choosing a favorite child! I don’t discriminate. Although right now I have a soft spot for Buckbeak’s flying music from Azkaban. It changes periodically.

SnitchSeeker: Can you talk to us about audience reactions – not just during the music, but during the movies? Is that distracting? When we’ve attended shows before, there are sometimes loud cheers when various characters show up.
Sarah Hicks:
For me the whole point of coming to a big event like this is to share the experience with a huge group of people who love the same thing – I hope that everyone feels free to react to what’s going on either on the film or onstage. I love that people are moved by the experience and want to cheer, and I totally encourage it (just don’t jump up and scare the person sitting next to you!)

SnitchSeeker: What venues are you looking forward to seeing, and will you be conducting more Potter movies going forward?
Sarah Hicks:
I’m slated to do Half-Blood Prince in the fall and expect to finish out the series in the next few years. As much as I love the Harry Potter series, I spend a majority of my time working on other movies and orchestra projects so it’s hard to say where or when!
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