When you hear John Williams’ enchanting score for the the Harry Potter films, you are immediately transported to J.K. Rowling’s fantastic world of wizards, witches, and magical creatures. The first notes of the iconic Harry Potter theme music, known as “Hedwig’s Theme,” are unmistakable—even when ringing from glistening glass goblets.
Just when you thought the tinkling tune couldn’t be more reminiscent of Harry’s mystical world, these two musicians add the eerie and elegant sounds of glass to the score. At a concert in Tennessee, the Polish glass music group GlassDuo recreate “Hedwig’s Theme” on a massive glass harp comprised of specially tuned goblets.
The instruments date back to 1741, when an Irish musician created the first glass harp, played with wooden sticks. Today, notes are played by running moistened fingers around the rim of a wine glass either filled with water or ground down to obtain the correct pitch. The style of music has evolved into its own kind of artistry. Street performing glass harpists attract large crowds, and composers have incorporated the unique sound into movie scores such as Dr. Zhivago.
Formerly musicians in the symphony orchestra in Gdansk, GlassDuo’s Anna and Arkadiusz Szafraniec hand-built the largest known glass harp in the world, requiring 2,000 glasses. The three rows of goblets are tuned so they don’t have to be filled with water. Having the advantage of four hands playing the instrument at once, GlassDuo utilizes the entire five-octave scale to create a spell-binding performance of “Hedwig’s Theme.” GlassDuo is one of a few professional glass music ensembles in the world, and they have been playing their music for about two decades.
As Dumbledore said in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: “Ah, music. A magic beyond all we do here!”
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