The NSO Pops consists of the same musicians you’d see in an NSO performance; the only difference is in repertoire. Reineke has conducted a range of shows for the NSO Pops, from Broadway favorites to programs featuring Kendrick Lamar, and Reineke insists that the preparation for each performance is no different.
“When you’re performing with a world-class orchestra, music is music,” he says.
Still, Reineke says that he would take Beethoven before a live scoring in terms of difficulty, especially with a score such as John Williams’ for Harry Potter. According to Reineke, Williams does not “conduct or write his music to be done with a click track.”
A click track has been retrofitted for the film, Reineke says, and “you would think that would be really helpful, [but] not on a movie like this.”
The click track doesn’t allow the music to ebb and flow, and in an orchestra of 80-plus musicians, “everyone interprets [the click track] slightly differently,” he says.
“It takes so much concentration, and you can’t let up for a minute.”
Luckily, Reineke has a few tools to help him.
“I call [it] Conductor Hero,” he says in reference to an app that helps guide him through the performance. “I have my own video stream of the movie that has streamers on it; colored bars that go across the screen that tell me where I am. I almost think of it like I’m playing a video game. It’s kind of like Guitar Hero, where you try to hit exactly on the right beats and everything. You’re really trying to see how many things you can get exactly lined up with where they’re supposed to be in the film.”
At this point in the conversation, we switch gears from video game-esque apps to Harry Potter.
On Tap: Why The Chamber of Secrets as opposed to say The Deathly Hallows?
Steven Reineke: Well, we’re going to do the entire series. We’ve already done the first movie out at Wolf Trap this past summer. So we decided to go onto to book two now. And it’s a perfect thing to do on Thanksgiving weekend. It’s so family-friendly and people always have their kids around and relatives in from out of town, so I’m sure we’re going to have lots of families there.
OT: I already know my family is looking forward to it. Are you into Harry Potter yourself?
SR: Oh my God yeah, I love this. I’ve seen all the movies. I read all the books. They’re a great read. J.K. Rowling really really hit on something, and I’m just so impressed with her. The stories are so captivating and there are so many life lessons in them. She really got kids reading again, voraciously reading. They all wanted to read the books and then the movies really did enhance the experience of it, and [there’s] nobody better than John Williams to write the music for it. He’s the best, simply the best.
OT: To what extent do you think the orchestra is into Harry Potter?
SR: Oh, they always love [it], even when I pull out [the score] just to play the music, so I’m fairly certain that the orchestra is looking forward to this next installment here. They also really get to play, [because] there’s a ton of music in this movie. We play almost the entire time. Most of the movie has music to it, so we’re not sitting around twiddling our thumbs waiting for the next scene. It just keeps on going, and it’s a workout for everybody. Everybody has to sit up straight and pay attention. It’s very very difficult.
OT: What house would you say you’re in?
SR: Oh gosh, I would probably be more of a Gryffindor.
SR: Yeah, you didn’t expect me to say Slytherin, did you?
OT: Oh, I don’t know.
SR: No [laughs]. No, those guys are jerks.
OT: How about the orchestra more generally?
SR: That’s a loaded question. Don’t make me play sorting hat on these [musicians], because you could get me in real trouble. There are a few Slytherins in the orchestra, I know that. There’s people in every house. That’s a funny question.
OT: Fair enough. Are there any musical or visual moments you’re looking forward to?
SR: In the second half of the movie, a lot of the real drama happens [and] we really get to work very hard. But I will say one of my favorite moments in the movie to conduct is the big Quidditch match in the first half of the film. [It’s] a really great moment. The orchestra really gets to shine because there’s not much dialogue for about seven minutes. It’s just this wonderful sporting match with terrific music by John Williams.
OT: When are you going to perform The Prisoner of Azkaban?
SR: I don’t know when it’s booked, but I’m sure we’re going to do it. I think our plan is to do all of them, and I’ll tell you what, I’m really excited about that [one] because that’s my favorite. I love that book. I thought it was a terrific movie.
The NSO Pops performances of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets are this Friday, November 24 and Saturday, November 25 at 7 p.m, and Sunday, November 26 at 2 p.m. Sunday’s performance will be sensory-friendly. Tickets to the performances start at $29.
After this weekend, Reineke will be back in Washington on December 8-9 for the NSO Pops annual holiday concerts, featuring guest artist and Broadway actress Megan Hilty. Reineke says that he and Smash star Hilty designed the program together, and they’re “ready to launch it.” The program will feature popular holiday songs like “Santa Baby,” selections from the movie White Christmas, a celebration of Hanukkah favorites and much more.
For more info, visit www.kennedy-center.org.
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts: 2700 F St. NW, DC; 202-467-4600; www.kennedy-center.org