On Saturday afternoon, the Binghamton University Symphony Orchestra practiced sorcery of its own in the Osterhout Concert Theater of the Anderson Center during “It’s Magic!,” the Orchestra’s first concert of the semester.
Under the direction of music professor Timothy Perry as conductor, the orchestra played five pieces relating to magic. Perry, who began at Binghamton University in 1986, is also the current director of graduate studies for the Binghamton University Music Department.
The concert opened with Spanish-American composer Carlos Surinach’s “The Magic Fair,” a piece telling the story of an ominous fair shrouded in mystery.
Before starting the second piece, a suite from the 2010 animated film “How to Train Your Dragon,” Perry explained that the work has its roots in Celtic and Gothic influences. According to Perry, much of the music in the suite reflects these influences and cultures, while being a lighthearted piece fit for children and families. The lightheartedness of this piece in contrast to the first one showed that the orchestra would be exploring several types of magic, ranging from more mysterious, serious ones to fantastical, exciting interpretations.
With their third piece, Perry and the orchestra delved into a more sinister form of magic. Before beginning the song, Modest Mussorgsky’s “A Night on the Bare Mountain,” Perry discussed the concept of black magic and its history.
“Only the coming of day and tolling of the church bell will dispel the ongoing revelries of this unholy part [of magic],” Perry said.
With this piece, the orchestra led the audience through a battle against dark magic. Tensions and tempos varied as the power of black magic in this story rose and fell. The side winning at a given moment is made clear by the orchestra. At the end, the piece turned pretty and subtly joyful, perhaps telling the audience that good has prevailed and that black magic has been defeated.
The Symphony Orchestra then transitioned into a lighter piece with Paul Dukas’ “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.” Perry explained to the crowd that this comical piece may be recognized from it’s use in the 1940 animated Disney film “Fantasia.” The orchestra used the different instruments to create comedic effects and represent different characters and themes in the story. The bassoon and low brass, for example, played as the enchanted broom. Instruments engaged in call-and-response playing as if they were characters having conversations.
Perry ended the concert with a suite from “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” composed by renowned artist John Williams. The orchestra embodied the signature sense of awe and mystery the songs achieve in the franchise.
The concert closed with a standing ovation and cheers from audience members.
Music and magic have been present in societies and civilizations for years, often serving as integral parts in culture and lifestyle, but Perry’s message is about more than just the music. He said magic is a concept present in all that we do, represented by our ability as people to do good or bad.