Love is all around us – Love Actually in Concert

By Katie Dancey-Downs

To begin with, a disclaimer. At least once every Christmas, or hell let’s face it – any time of the year at all – I dust off the Love Actually DVD. I’ve seen it more times than a grown up human should ever watch one film. When I bought my first car, the Love Actually soundtrack was in the CD player, and it’s travelled with me to all the different cars I’ve owned. That CD has outlasted three cars. And the soundtrack even featured at my wedding ceremony.

So this is by no means an unbiased review of Love Actually – if you haven’t seen it by now, stop reading this immediately and watch it. This is a spoiler rich review of Love Actually in Concert.

As the full orchestra in the The Lighthouse concert hall tunes up in front of a cinema screen, there is a strange feeling – a mix of classical and contemporary. The conductor arrives, and the overture begins. To begin with, it’s hard to get used to the orchestra being there. But by the end, I’m completely immersed in a scene before I even realise the orchestra is playing again.

When you watch Love Actually, you’re not necessarily thinking about the music. You’re thinking about how Colin Firth should just kiss the girl, or wondering why no-one’s ever turned up at your door with a set of giant placards to declare their unrequited love. You’re absolutely fuming at Alan Rickman for buying that necklace, and crying along with Emma Thompson. But when you hear an orchestra play the music right in front of you, you realise how brilliant Craig Armstrong’s score is, and how it’s the music just as much as the story that immerses you in the movie.

As the full film plays, the Senbla orchestra takes over the score, save for a few pop songs. Watching Love Actually with an orchestra in tow, the emotions seem to run even higher. This time, the part of the film that makes my heart feel about ready to burst is Colin Firth’s proposal – and it’s because of the music. This has got to be one of the most beautiful parts of the score, and hearing it live makes it so much more romantic.

I’ve been to lots of classical concerts before, and I’m always completely moved by beautiful live music – but it can seem overwhelming if you don’t know where to start. For people who are new to the world of orchestral music, hearing it alongside a film is such a great way to step into it, and discover something new.

I’ve seen this film dozens of times, but this was a completely new experience. And now that I’ve seen a film with a live orchestra, I don’t know how I’ll ever go back to regular viewing.

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