Dressed up as Professor McGonagall from “Harry Potter,” conductor Christina Landolt waved her hand at the piano, announcing to the audience that she would perform a magic trick. On her cue, pianist William Ge ’25 played the beginning notes of “Hedwig’s Theme” as the orchestra joined the melody.
Ge found Landolt’s cue to begin the concert fun for the audience, alongside the musicians. He noted that throughout the concert, Landolt performed magic tricks with various sections of the orchestras.
“[Landolt] told us in advance that she would be doing magic tricks with the strings section, winds section, and obviously, me. During the concert, when she cued the second time, I actually did not see, I didn’t know she wanted me to come in, but she played it off very smoothly… that type of optimism and attitude was really great for our orchestra,” said Ge.
Last weekend at the Cochran Chapel, the Family Concert featured the Amadeus Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra, and Chamber Orchestra, all conducted and directed by Landolt. The reception included several “Harry Potter”-themed treats, such as butterbeer, Hagrid’s rock cakes, chocolate frogs, golden snitches, and more.
“I’ve been wanting to do a family-oriented concert for years and when we discovered this ‘Harry Potter’ arrangement and heard how truly magical the orchestration was, I thought this was the perfect opportunity. I was pleased that other faculty in the department were willing to go on this journey with me for this particular concert. While it was a relatively short concert, watching the audience, especially the young kids, get pulled into the magic of the music was exactly what I had hoped for,” wrote Landolt in an email to The Phillipian.
The Family Concert was open to both Andover community members and residents of the town of Andover. Alexandra Booth, Instructor in History and Social Science, attended with her husband and daughter. With this being her first concert in the Chapel since the pandemic, Booth talked about how her family enjoyed this opportunity to hear Andover’s orchestras perform.
“[We] just were basking in the music. It was so incredible, so many talented musicians. On top of just beautiful theatricality on the part of both the musicians and the teachers and the whole event, all the baked goods and sweet treats, the raffle, all of these things just made for such a beautiful community event, and I was really glad to be a part of it,” said Booth.
Because most of the audience members were children, the performers ensured that the concert included interaction with the audience. In the middle of the concert, violinists Yui Hasagawa ’23 and Audrey Sun ’23 drew names from a raffle to distribute “Harry Potter”-themed gifts for the young audience members.
“Instead of focusing on [every single note], as we normally would have, we focused more on making the piece more interactive, exaggerating dynamics, exaggerating the articulation, so we focused more on the musical side rather than the technical side…. My role as the [gift distributor]… we put [the raffle] in the middle to split up a very long concert and to keep the attention span of the children,” said Hasagawa.
The Symphony Orchestra meets every Tuesday for an hour and a half, and Chamber and Amadeus Orchestras meet on Thursday for the same amount of time. According to Meara Wang ’26, a cellist in the Symphony Orchestra, despite the short time between returning from Thanksgiving Break and the concert, the groups managed to pull together a successful performance.
“Rehearsing takes up a lot of my time. Honestly, I wouldn’t trade it for anything else, though… We have to rehearse every week. It’s been kind of stressful, because we pulled it together kind of quickly, because of break and all that, we’re coming back and doing a performance right away, but it actually went pretty well,” said Wang.
However, preparation for the concert was not free from challenges. Will Lucas ’24 recalled a tough decision his group had to make before the concert.
“There was one song in particular that we were supposed to play. But we, unfortunately, weren’t able to pull it all together. It was a really hard piece…. We’ll hopefully be able to play that one at a future concert,” said Lucas.
The theme, the performance, and the overall environment of the students was heavily impacted by the conductor, Landolt, Ge added. Ge emphasized that members of the orchestras were inspired by her efforts to make this family concert unique.
“I think Ms. Landolt did a really good job of making us excited and eager to play, I know that oftentimes having rehearsals at that time of day and it being so late, a lot of people will be tired, I think Ms. Landolt just brought a lot of great energy and overall was very inspiring,” said Ge.