Taking reins of Harry Potter

A-      A+

MUSIC has always been a part of John Beal’s life.

The renowned composer and conductor recalled being given a cardboard drum set at six years old as his first musical instrument.

“Of course, I immediately destroyed it, being at that age.”

Beal then picked up the piano and sang in a professional boy’s choir when he was eight.

“I’ve always wanted to be a musician. I was always conducting in front of the mirror when I was six or seven years old.

“I consider myself lucky to be able to do what I loved since I was young and work with greats like John Williams,” said the 70-year-old former decorated US Marine who served in Vietnam.

This weekend, Beal will show off his chops when he conducts the National Symphony Orchestra at the Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in Concert at the KLCC Plenary Hall.

Beal’s father, an aerodynamics engineer, loved listening to Russian composers.

“He used to blast it on the hi-fi set.”

His grandfather was a senior executive at The RCA Corporation in the 1930s, when television was first introduced to Americans.

“He also designed the sound system for Walt Disney’s Fantasia in the 1940s,” said Beal.

“I’ve always been focused on film music.

“That’s what I love. Doing this in Hollywood has been a unique and rewarding experience,”said the founding general manager and producer of the Hollywood Symphony Orchestra.

In the 1970s, Beal composed original scores for several hit TV series including Vega$, Eight Is Enough, Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley.

He was also part of the team that created today’s contemporary motion picture trailer format.

The team had composed original scores for the marketing of more than 2,000 major studio projects, such as Star Wars, Titanic, Forrest Gump, and Aladdin.

Fluent in the languages of jazz, classical, contemporary, electronic and world music, Beal’s music has been featured on the US President’s Air Force One.

Beal also collaborated as a conductor and arranger for recordings, television variety shows and concert tours with the likes of Olivia Newton-John, Johnny Mathis, Gladys Knight, Ella Fitzgerald, and B.B. King.

Meanwhile the Harry Potter concert is part of a series of presentations related to popular films. Other films that were presented in this series are Gladiator, The Godfather, It’s a Wonderful Life, DreamWorks Animation In Concert, Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage 50th Anniversary Concert Tour, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

“This will entice people to go to an orchestra as it plays music from popular films,” Beal said.

“Going to watch an orchestra doesn’t mean you will be listening to Bach, Strauss or Beethoven.”

Asked if he would switch his conductor’s baton for a wand, he said: “No, that would be too dangerous. I dont want to put a spell on the orchestra”.

Ticket prices are from RM198 and available at ticketpro.com.my.