The Lord of the Rings Symphony Comes to Cleveland
HOWARD SHORE’S THE LORD OF THE RINGS SYMPHONY WILL RECEIVE THREE PERFORMANCES BY THE WORLD-RENOWNED CLEVELAND ORCHESTRA UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE COMPOSER FEBRUARY 10 – 12, 2006 IN SEVERANCE HALL
FEBRUARY CONCERTS WILL BRING TOTAL NUMBER OF PERFORMANCES OF THE SYMPHONY TO MORE THAN NINETY SINCE DEBUT IN WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND IN NOVEMBER 2003
“Shore’s symphonic journey certainly echoes J.R.R. Tolkien’s dark and wonderful story, with its mysterious swirling mists, majestic sweeps and whimsical touches where needed. But nothing can match the impact of Shore’s most powerful passages drawing upon full brass and percussion.” – Pittsburgh Post Gazette
New York, NY, January 23, 2006– Howard Shore’s The Lord of the Rings Symphony: Six Movements for Orchestra and Chorus reaches a milestone next month when the world-renowned Cleveland Orchestra gives three performances of the work under the direction of the composer. Concerts in Cleveland’s Severance Hall on February 10, 11 and 12 – and in Lyon, France, also in February – will bring the total number of performances of the work to more than 90 since its world-premiere in New Zealand in November 2003.
Looking ahead to the occasion of conducting the justly celebrated ensemble, Howard Shore comments, “To be working with one of the great orchestras in the world is truly an honor.”
Founded in 1918, The Cleveland Orchestra has long been regarded as one of America’s – indeed the world’s – greatest ensembles. Under the direction of a series of extraordinary maestros – including the legendary George Szell and, more recently, Christoph von Dohnányi and current Music Director Franz Welser-Möst – the orchestra has been acclaimed by audiences and critics alike for the breathtaking beauty of its sound and the exceptional breadth of its repertoire.
Peter Czornyj, Artistic Administrator, said, “The Lord of the Rings Symphony has a double appeal of not only being a compelling and evocative piece of music but also a work that will allow us to continue to bring new, diverse, and younger audiences into Severance Hall to hear the Cleveland Orchestra.”
Shore has led a number of previous performances of the two-hour-long symphony as well as the enormously successful soundtrack recordings that accompanied director Peter Jackson’s three record-breaking films in The Lord of the Rings series. Shore also conducts the complete score to the first of the three “Rings” films, The Fellowship of the Ring, on a new deluxe four-CD set released In December 2005 by Warner Reprise. The set contains all the music Shore wrote for the film’s extended version, plus a DVD offering the score in Dolby Surround Sound.
Near the time of the Cleveland performances– but across the Atlantic – the Orchestra National de Lyon will present two performances of the symphony (February 10 and 11). In the spring, the Colorado Symphony Orchestra will also give two performances in Denver (May 19 – 21).
Since its premiere performance in Wellington, New Zealand, on November 29, 2003, Shore’s The Lord of the Rings Symphony has been performed nearly 90 times on four continents. Audiences from Sydney and Tokyo to Los Angeles and London have greeted the two-hour work with rousing ovations following performances in some of the world’s most famous venues – including Sydney’s Opera House, London’s Royal Albert Hall and Moscow’s Kremlin Palace Theater.
Some of the world’s leading international orchestras – including the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Symphony and the London Philharmonic – have performed The Lord of the Rings Symphony in addition to regional orchestras across the United States. In summer 2005 the symphony was played in the Odeon Herod Atticus in Athens, Greece, one of the city’s most famous outdoor theaters; at the prestigious Schleswig-Holstein Festival in Germany; and in Oslo’s Frognerparken, where Norway’s acclaimed Oslo Philharmonic played it for a crowd estimated to have topped 70,000. The same orchestra gave another performance a few days later in Bergen for a crowd estimated at more than 30,000. The first two movements of the symphony, comprising The Fellowship of the Ring – the first installment of Tolkien’s trilogy – was performed on a program entitled “The Rings: Myth and Music” with music by Richard Wagner at New York’s Carnegie Hall last November.
Shore takes particular pride in the fact that performances of The Lord of the Rings Symphony all over the world have been given not by a single touring orchestra but almost entirely by local performers:
“The symphony has been presented around the world, but regardless of where it has been done the performances have been given by local artists. That’s the real joy of it for me: this work is helping awaken community interest in the symphony orchestra.”
In addition to Shore, five other conductors have performed the piece internationally: John Mauceri, Alexander Mickelthwate, Markus Huber, Alastair Willis and Terry Edwards.
Howard Shore is currently working on an opera based on his film collaboration with David Cronenberg – a commission of The Fly for Los Angeles Opera. His score for The Aviator (his third collaboration with director Martin Scorsese) won both Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice awards and was just nominated for a Grammy. His soundtrack for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and the song “Into the West” both won Grammy Awards last year as well as two Oscars and two Golden Globe Awards. His soundtracks for the previous installments of the trilogy – The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring – were also honored with Grammy awards. Shore’s score for The Fellowship of the Ring also earned him an Oscar for Best Original Score. Earlier this month the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures presented Shore with its 2005 Career Achievement for Film Music Composition award.
About The Lord of the Rings Symphony: Six Movements for Orchestra and Chorus
Howard Shore wrote his six-movement The Lord of the Rings Symphony for symphony orchestra, adult and children’s choirs, as well as solo instrumentalists and vocalists, totaling more than 200 musicians on stage. Working with conductor John Mauceri, who first suggested that the music of The Lord of the Rings be preserved as an independent work for the concert hall, Shore created a two-hour symphony drawing from the nearly 12 hours of music he composed for Peter Jackson’s phenomenally successful film trilogy. (Shore received three Oscars and four Grammy awards for the soundtrack recordings.) The six movements of the symphony correspond to the progression of the epic through the six books that were adapted for the film trilogy. These movements capture the enormous complexity and limitless imagination of J.R.R. Tolkien’s creation – from the simple, pastoral beauty of the hobbits’ Shire to the magic and mystery of the Elves and the monumental battle scenes – in music by turns explosive, ethereal and, ultimately, transcendent.
As Doug Adams, author of the soon-to-be-published book The Music of the Lord of the Rings Films explained in a Chicago Tribune interview, “There’s a different style of music for each culture of characters: hobbit, elf, dwarf. If you go to the symphony performance it’s very much like an abstract version of Tolkien’s story.”
Shore achieves this enormous feat by the ingenious use and juxtaposition of a plethora of recurring motifs – close to 80 in all – associated with the various characters and places in the books. Shore’s employment of some instruments foreign to the traditional Western symphony orchestra – and of choral settings in Tolkien’s languages – help conjure up the ancient beauty of Middle-earth, its diverse inhabitants, and the harrowing struggle between the forces of good and evil.
Shore likens the daunting experience of writing the music for the three The Lord of the Rings films to that of the humble hobbit asked to carry the ring. “When I started,” he told the Chicago Tribune, “I was the hobbit with the ring saying, ‘I will do this. I will take the ring to Mordor, although I do not know the way.’” Shore considers his work on The Lord of the Rings to be the culmination of everything he has done in his first 40 years of writing music.
Critical acclaim for Howard Shore’s The Lord of the Rings Symphony
“It wasn’t the crowd that typically attends an orchestra concert, but it was an uplifting sight to see – and one that has been repeated around the world as Howard Shore’s ‘The Lord of the Rings Symphony’ draws new audiences to the symphony…This symphony…is breathtaking. Shore’s music takes listeners into new worlds, evoking a panorama of emotions that cut to the heart including love, serenity, pain and fury. It deserves to be enjoyed long after the movies have left the multiplex.”
– Buffalo News
“[Howard Shore’s] instinct for melody is superb, his integration of legitimate ancient music sources with contemporary-sounding tonal clusters and harmonic invention is terrific, and, most of all, he creates, as both Jackson and Tolkien did before him, an entire imagined universe that is both detailed and consistent.”
– Newark Star-Ledger
“There’s no denying the sweep and rich texture of the work, with its Celtic-like tunes, moody pop songs, and effective use of choral voices (think Carmina Burana, only darker). And Shore’s nod to Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle at the very end, with the orchestra reveling in the healing power of a major chord, makes a satisfying coda. …When the last notes dissipated, it sounded as if the demonstrative audience would keep the ovation going until long after all signs of Elvish had left the building.”
– Baltimore Sun
“Shore’s musical opus is every bit as impressive as Tolkien’s literary one, standing on its own as a sweeping, operatic experience, even when liberated from the majesty of Jackson’s trilogy.”
– The Seattle Times
“Among the highlights of the six-movement [The Lord of the Rings Symphony] was ‘The Prophecy,’ featuring a lonely ney flute that evoked the other-worldliness of 5,000-year-old Middle-earth. The chorus swelled and climbed with urgent excitement in ‘Concerning Hobbits,’ and a solo fiddle added effervescence to ‘The Shadow of the Past.’ Heavy percussive drive on ‘The Bridge of Khazad-dum’ sweepingly suggested a history of classic cinema spectaculars. Emotional interludes included ‘Hope and Memory’ and ‘The Riders of Rohan’; ‘A Knife in the Dark’ pulsated with ‘Camina Burana’ excitement.”
Howard Shore’s The Lord of the Rings Symphony: Upcoming Performances
Friday, February 10, Saturday, February 11 and Sunday, February 12
Cleveland Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Howard Shore
Cleveland, OH (Severance Hall)
Friday, February 10 and Saturday, February 11
Orchestre de Lyon conducted by Terry Edwards
Lyon, France (Hall of Tony Garnier)
Friday, May 19, Saturday May 20, Sunday, May 21
Colorado Symphony Orchestra conducted by Markus Huber
Denver, Colorado (Boettcher Hall)