This past Friday night we went to Powell Hall to listen to the St. Louis Symphony perform the musical score during the showing of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. You might remember that we won tickets to the show at the release party at Left Bank Books, and we were all really excited about the evening’s adventure. I expected big things, but I was completely blown away by the actual performance.
We had amazing seats – the first row of the Dress Circle which is the first balcony. We were just to the right of the center aisle, in the first four seats, and we had about two feet of legroom in front of us. Deluxe. I’ve written a thank you note to the event director for finding those seats for the four of us. The concert was such a treat.
The movie played with just the dialogue (and subtitles), and the symphony performed every single note of the score. Watching the movie in this way shifted the way I thought about the movie – and highlighted just how important the musical score is to a story like this. There were maybe three dialogue-only scenes in the entire movie when the instruments were still. Even the simplest moments of the movie had some sound. I had chills from the very start when Dumbledore extinguishes the street lights on Privet Drive one by one, and the instruments captured that sound in the most magical way. I’m still floating a bit from the experience.
Both girls are very immersed right now in understanding and learning about the back story – E’s studying the Hamilton score like she’s researching for her thesis, and F’s nose is buried in one of E’s books on the Harry Potter series. I’m enjoying the connections they are both making to other texts, and am delighting in this immersion. I’m also feeling grateful that they both have educational experiences that allow these sorts of deep dives and immersive studies. I remember the thrill of experiencing those moments myself.
Which leads me to my third bit here – if you love the Harry Potter series as much as we do, then you simply must listen to the podcast Harry Potter and the Sacred Text. The podcast is hosted and produced by an engaging and thoughtful group of former and current divinity students, and each episode is devoted to a chapter in the series, starting with the first chapter of the first book. Using various techniques from a variety of faith practices, they examine the text in a thoughtful and rigorous manner. The text itself is not sacred – but the way in which we can make the time to immerse ourselves within it and make connections to themes in our daily lives and the world around us can be sacred work. It’s truly lovely, and so far I think that it’s certainly appropriate for anyone of old enough to enjoy the books themselves. If they are covering topics that might be inappropriate for younger listeners, they are careful to announce that at the beginning of the episode.
That’s where we are right now – immersed in the books that we love and finding connections through the text to the broader world we live in and enjoy. A good story is a magical thing, isn’t it?