At one point in "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," Harry, Hermione and Ron battle a troll in the Hogwarts restroom. In the film, John Williams' music, heavy on the low brass, scores the epic fight, which ends with the troll collapsed face-down on the floor.
John Jesensky loves the troll battle. Jesensky used that scene to explain the fun of the upcoming "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in Concert," which he will conduct at The Bushnell in Hartford.
"Low brass players — trombones, tubas — can be a little rambunctious and overeager with their sound. They play loud unless you tell them to tone it down," says Jesensky. "But the low brass represents the troll throughout that entire scene. I tell the low brass, I know what you've been told your entire career to back off and be quiet. But this one moment, I'm going to take the leash off and let you be that troll."
"Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in Concert" is a screening of the classic 2001 movie on a 40-foot screen, with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra playing Williams' entire score, note for note, in sync with the movie. The concert will be performed three times on Nov. 4 and 5.
Jesensky is a 2003 graduate of Cheshire High School. He earned a bachelor's in music composition from the Hartt School at University of Hartford, where he studied under Stephen Gryc and Glen Adsit. He later received a master's in film composition from New York University.
Jesensky is coming back to his home state to perform for the first time with the "Harry Potter" show.
He says seeing the film with a live score is a different entertainment experience than just seeing the film.
"There is a sort of electricity that most people don't experience who have never been to the symphony. There's a communication and electricity that transfer back and forth between audience and the orchestra," Jesensky says. "You get this extra sense of a thrilling sensation."
The copy of the film that will be shown has had the score track removed; only dialogue and sound effects remain. Sound mixers work with the symphony to make sure that throughout the film, the live music doesn't drown out the dialogue.
Jesensky works for CineConcerts, which produces movie-concert shows with Warner Bros. Consumer Products. For the past three years, Jesensky has conducted concerts in New Zealand, Scandinavia, South America, Germany, Canada and elsewhere in sync with "The Godfather," "Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage," "It's a Wonderful Life" and "Sorcerer's Stone." "Sorcerer's Stone" is his favorite.
"When the movie came out in 2001, I was on the fence. I was not sure what I wanted to do with my music, but I knew it had to be something," he says. "I sat down in the theater and the score came on instantly. It captured the magic so instantaneously. It made my ears and eyes stick to that screen for the entire film. ... I knew I had to be involved with film music. ... 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone' made me decide to become a film composer and conductor."
The Hartford performance is special to him for another reason.
"I grew up with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. They did outreach programs at my middle school," he said. "They were a big inspiration for me when I was just learning how to play the euphonium. Their musicians came in and we played a Dvorak symphony with them. The middle school players got the easy parts and they did all the heavy lifting. I was absolutely amazed by it. It was one of the formative aspects of my musical life."
HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE — IN CONCERT featuring the Hartford Symphony Orchestra will be performed Saturday, Nov. 4, at 1 and 7 p.m.; and Sunday, Nov. 5, at 3 p.m. at The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, 166 Capitol Ave. in Hartford. Admission $58.50 to $115. Tickets: hartfordsymphony.org. Details: harrypotterinconcert.com.