Keitaro Harada conducts lots of live movie scores. The associate Conductor of Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra has a cinema-centric repertoire that ranges from Harry Potter and Home Alone to Raiders of the Lost Ark. This Saturday, February 10th, he'll lead the Memphis Symphony Orchestra in a live concert screening of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.
"It's definitely a skill set they never teach you in school," Harada says of the live score experience where the evening's star — the orchestra — is technically cast in a supporting role.
"The tricky part about doing a movie live with orchestra is the music is already someone else's artistic interpretation," Harada explains. "The moment a conductor decides to do something different, things fall apart."
- Keitaro Harada conducts, and it’s out of this world.
Some conductors utilize a click track to hold things together, but Harada doesn't like chasing mechanical beats. "You can let the orchestra sing a little bit more," he says. "You can let them play music instead of being a machine." That's an idea Harada takes directly from E.T. composer John Williams and director Steven Spielberg.
"I've worked closely with John Williams," Harada says. "Steven Spielberg and John Williams hosted a concert and were talking about the score when Elliott is on the bicycle and he flies. In the studio, they did that take so many times and it was never together. So Spielberg turned off the monitor so the screen was completely dark and told John to just conduct the music beautifully — the way you would if you were in a concert hall. That's what John did. And Spielberg adjusted the movie to the recording."