Last Saturday, the Mann Center for the Performing Arts put on its first installment of Movies @ The Mann, a summer concert series that presents popular films alongside live performances of their scores. With exciting action and music, this series is perfect for those who adore the works of John Williams and the like, cinephiles who love a classic blockbuster, or someone who just wants to lay out on the lawn while enjoying some movie magic.
The first installment—Raiders of the Lost Ark In Concert—saw the classic Spielberg adventure film accompanied by the Reading Symphony Orchestra, who performed John William’s iconic score. Movies @ The Mann, held at the Mann's TD Pavilion, offers a wide range of seating—from right by the orchestra pit, to bringing your own lawn chairs. You can even pack some blankets and food for a picnic under the stars, or opt for a reservation at Crescendo (their open air, prix fixe buffet). The event is for all ages, and don’t worry if you missed the last one—there are three more installments before the summer ends:
July 20, 8 p.m.
Tickets: $25–$75 (+$5 on Day of Show)
Who doesn’t have instant flashbacks when they hear “Hedwig’s Theme”? Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire saw John Williams—who scored the first three films—replaced by Patrick Doyle (Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Thor). The fourth installment marks a darker turn in the series, and Doyle brings his own take to match that development. The movie's music varies between foreboding and campy. An ominous reprisal of “Hedwig's Theme” signifies the growth toward danger and adulthood, while the inclusion of the Yule Ball and all of its music—performed by the fictional band, The Weird Sisters—bring some rightfully bizarre wizarding rock’n’roll to the movie.
The Harry Potter Film Concert Series has toured the globe since 2016. On July 20, it will be performed by The Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted by Justin Freer. Also the founder of CineConcerts (one of the event’s organizers), Freer believes that putting the music on stage creates a much more visceral, immersive experience. So whether you are a diehard Harry Potter fan, or enjoyed the series when you were young, head to The Mann for some magic under the stars.
July 26, 8 p.m.
Tickets: $25–$95 (+$5 on Day of Show)
The Star Wars franchise has been a treasure trove of memorable, powerful music since the beginning. The original trilogy—all scored by master composer John Williams—earned Williams one Academy Award (for Star Wars: A New Hope) and two nominations. While the first film was ranked number one on American Film Institute’s list for best film scores, its sequel—The Empire Strikes Back—was the one that gave us iconic new themes like "The Imperial March (Darth Vader's Theme)" and "Yoda's Theme.”
Like the Harry Potter world, the Star Wars brand—for better or for worse—shows no sign of slowing down. But regardless of where the next film—The Rise of the Skywalker, out this December—is headed, the original trilogy will always have a special place in fans’ hearts. Last year, The Mann presented Star Wars: A New Hope in concert. This summer, it presents The Empire Strikes Back with The Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted by Lucas Richman. As arguably the best film in the franchise—if not of all time—play on giant screens, get ready for the music to transport you back to a galaxy far, far away.
August 15, 8 p.m.
Tickets: $25–$65 (+$5 on Day of Show)
Since its release 40 years ago, the Grease soundtrack remains catchy and familiar across generations. As one of the most popular musicals, it can be as cheesy as it is relatable, especially to those who are still figuring out who they are—trying on personalities like leather jackets. When watched today, Grease is often called out for not aging well. But when viewed within the context of its time, it's a fun, hot summer flick filled with songs that people still hum today—like “Greased Lightnin’,” “You’re the One That I Want,” and “Summer Nights.”
Grease influenced pop cultures irreversibly, and its music is best enjoyed on a warm summer night. On August 15, it will be accompanied live, for the first time, by an orchestra. Thiago Tiberio—who has conducted orchestras in film scoring sessions for most of his career—will conduct The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia. Smaller than a symphony orchestra like The Philadelphia Orchestra, they will no doubt put on a cozy and joyful show fitting for bringing the one that you want.
September 12, 8 p.m.
Tickets: $25–$125 (+$5 on Day of Show)
Who’s going through Game of Thrones withdrawal? Instead of reading or re–reading the books, or waiting for the prequel, check out the Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience. While not a part of Movies @ The Mann, the event will be held outdoors at the TD Pavilion in early fall. Through a mix of the best music and scenes from the blockbuster show’s eight seasons—with a full orchestra, choir and projections—the concert will immerse you in the world of Westeros.
The concert series premiered in 2017, but the show’s Emmy Award–winning composer, Ramin Djawadi, has reworked it to create a brand new experience, with pieces from the final season. Although the show’s recent end has met mixed responses, there is no doubt that its technical aspects—acting, set design, cinematography, music, etc.—have been exceptional. Djawadi specializes in mixing the haunting with the swelling, and the show's musical offerings range from the iconic Main Title to the new “The Night King” theme from season eight. While Djawadi will not be performing in Philadelphia, the concert developed around his creations—mixed with the stunning visuals of GOT—encompasses much of the show at its best.
If you won’t be in Philly for the summer, or just can’t make it to any of the Movies @ The Mann events, this show will be a great way to start the school year off. Bundle beneath some blankets for the crisp early fall, and get ready to watch winter come.