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Meet Stephen Mulligan, Conductor Harry Potter Live

By Kailie Annetts January 19, 2018

Magic will be in the air Saturday, January 20, as “Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone in Concert” comes to Budweiser Gardens. You can watch the classic story of Harry Potter accompanied by London-based musicians to propel you into the wizarding world.

So what should you be expecting? Stephen Mulligan, the conductor of the show, recently explained that live is “a really fun experience.”

Mulligan is a Yale graduate and has been the assistant director to the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra since August of 2017. He was the assistant to the film concert series in Los Angeles when he was introduced to the score and now travels as a conductor, working with various orchestras on tour. He joined the London Symphonia a week prior to performance to practice the score here in London.

Harry Potter, stephen mullington

Stephen Mulligan. photo: Melody Evans
“It’s just a different angle to see the movie, I mean the music really takes the foreground in this live concert experience. So, when you watch the movie as it’s produced for watching at home or in the movie theatre, the music often has a supporting role or a background role, just in terms of the volume it’s softer. This is a different because the music is very prominent and you can hear all the details of the brilliant score. It also just a really fun experience to gather with other devoted fans of the Harry Potter series,” says Mulligan.

Not only should you expect to enjoy the film, there will be plenty of Potterheads coming to enjoy and share the culture associated with J. K. Rowling’s creation.

“You’ll see people will come dressed up, it’s a very happy audience, so you kind of get to be with your people, in a sense,” says Mulligan “It’s just exciting, the music is rather difficult for the orchestra and so they are in the spotlight and they’re focused and excited. It’s very intense.”

“I Grew Up a Harry Potter Fan”

This concert is part of Cineconcerts touring show where orchestras perform the original John Williams score to accompany the classic film. There are other tours of the various Harry Potter movies, as well as other films.

Not only can fans take comfort in this classic movie they love, they can also take comfort in the fact that the conductor is also a Potter fan himself.

“I grew up a Harry Potter fan, so I’ve known these stories for a long time,” says Mulligan. “I don’t think I was lining up at like Barnes and Noble at midnight but I know that my brother was. He was two years older than I was, so he usually would read the books first, and he’s a faster reader than I am, so he’d go to Barnes and Noble at midnight, get the book, read it in a day or two and as the younger brother, I would get it next.”

Knowing the whimsical nature of John Williams score, the best part of this performance is that the orchestra is excited about the music they’re performing. Not only that, they’re facing the challenge of such a difficult score and working with a travelling conductor to perform a two-hour long concert.

“I think the orchestra is excited to see how meaty and how rewarding the score is and that in turn is exciting for me. I remember one of the cellist from the Atlanta Symphony came up to me and said ‘my part is in a 100-page book’, in other words, it’s a lot of music, there is a lot of material here. So it’s fun for me when the orchestra is excited about the project that’s new for them,” says Mulligan.

Mulligan’s Favourite Part?

“Musically, for whatever reason, I love conducting the Library scene. It’s very suspenseful, when Harry is wandering around the campus at night with his cloak on and he’s not supposed to, of course. I really love the music in that scene, so that’s my favourite, I look forward to that scene the most.”

Harry Potter is a classic story that almost everyone knows, so what about this story makes it great to tell?

“What’s so great about Harry Potter, is that on the one hand, it has great immediate appeal, there is nothing about it that has to be explained or read about beforehand. On the other hand, it’s such a masterpiece and it really shows off the orchestra, it’s sort of this immediate and strong connection that we in the orchestral world have with the general public, it’s so natural,” Mulligan says.

Details Details
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in Concert
Budweiser Gardens
Saturday, January 20, 7:30 pm
Purchase tickets online
Call 1-866-455-2849

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Meet Stephen Mulligan, Conductor Harry Potter Live

Keith Tomasek
19 January 2018
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