“Shore’s six-movement symphony is a complex, ingeniously evocative work rivaling Wagner operas in the manipulation of readily identifiable motifs pegged to certain characters, emotions and events.” – Zachary Lewis/Plain Dealer [Cleveland]

New York, NY, May 15, 2006 – Howard Shore’s The Lord of the Rings Symphony: Six Movements for Orchestra and Chorus reaches a milestone this summer when the San Francisco Symphony presents the 100th performance of the work since its debut in Wellington, New Zealand in November 2003. The two concerts at San Francisco’s Davies Hall on July 14 and 15 are highlights of a busy summer season for the symphony, which will be presented in additional concerts both in Europe and in the United States. The Royal Scottish National Orchestra will give two concerts on June 24 and 25 as part of its annual ScottishPower Proms series, followed by performances in two German cities – Nürnberg (July 28) and Aachen (August 18).

In the States, the North Carolina Symphony will perform the symphony at the Koka Booth Amphitheater in Cary, North Carolina on July 15, followed by performances by the San Diego Symphony on July 20. The symphony will return to the Seattle area on September 9 for the closing event in the Chateau Ste. Michelle’s concert series in Woodinville, Washington, which will bring the symphony’s summer season to a glorious close.

But first, Howard Shore’s The Lord of the Rings Symphony will receive four performances this month: three with the Colorado Symphony in Denver (May 19 – 21) and one by the Neue Philharmonie Westfalen in Germany’s Cologne Arena (May 28).

Howard Shore conducted the world-renowned Cleveland Orchestra in three performances of his symphony in February. An article published in the Wall Street Journal a few weeks earlier noted the work’s “remarkable staying power more than two years after the third [The Lord of the Rings] film’s release” and described it as “wildly popular with audiences.” A reporter for the Buffalo News praised not only the quality of Shore’s vivid writing, but also the ability of the work to bring new listeners into the concert hall:

“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.”

Since its debut in November 2003, Howard Shore’s The Lord of the Rings Symphony has been performed in mostly sold-out halls 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 Cleveland Orchestra, 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.

Last summer 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 – were performed at New York’s Carnegie Hall last November on a program entitled “The Rings: Myth and Music,” with music by Richard Wagner.

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: Terry Edwards, Markus Huber, John Mauceri, Alexander Mickelthwate and Alastair Willis.

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 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 as well as two Oscars and two Golden Globe Awards. His soundtracks for 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 earned him an Oscar for Best Original Score. In January 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 has received three Oscars for the scores 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 comprise J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. These movements capture the enormous complexity and limitless imagination of 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 – helps 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

“No doubt Shore’s fame and the endlessly alluring story of the One Ring brought them to their seats, but it was the Cleveland Orchestra, Chorus, and soloists that bound them there in rapt attention. A two-hour distillation of the much longer ‘Lord of the Rings’ soundtrack, Shore’s six-movement symphony is a complex, ingeniously evocative work rivaling Wagner operas in the manipulation of readily identifiable motifs pegged to certain characters, emotions and events. No one who has seen even one of the films could fail to recognize its major themes. Furthermore, it’s authentic, steeped in the musical languages of the Celtic, Germanic, Middle- and Far-Eastern cultures author J.R.R. Tolkien probably had in mind when imagining Elves, Orcs, Dwarves and Hobbits. All these qualities came to vivid life with the Cleveland Orchestra. Trumpets blazed with uncommon glory in the tragic ‘Bridge of Khazad-Dum’ sequence while the strings reserved their best for the plaintive ‘Gollum’s Song’ and the valiant ‘Riders of Rohan.’”
– Plain Dealer [Cleveland]

“[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… 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.”
– 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 ‘Carmina Burana’ excitement.”
– Variety

Howard Shore’s The Lord of the Rings Symphony: Upcoming Performances

Friday, May 19, Saturday May 20, Sunday, May 21
Colorado Symphony Orchestra conducted by Markus Huber
Denver, Colorado (Boettcher Hall)

Sunday, May 28
Neue Philharmonie Westfalen conducted by Markus Huber
Cologne, Germany (Cologne Arena)

Saturday, June 24 and Sunday, June 25
Royal Scottish National Orchestra conducted by Markus Huber
Glasgow, Scotland (Glasgow Royal Concert Hall)

Friday, July 14 and Saturday, July 15
San Francisco Symphony
San Francisco, CA (Louise M. Davies Hall)

Saturday, July 15
North Carolina Symphony
Cary, NC (Koka Booth Amphitheater)

Thursday, July 20
San Diego Symphony
San Diego, CA (Embarcadero Marina)

Friday, July 28
Württembergische Philharmonie Reutlingen
Nürnberg, Germany (Meistersingerhalle)

Friday, August 18
Sinfonieorchester Aachen
Aachen, Germany (Katschhof)

Sunday, September 9
Summer Concerts at the Chateau
Woodinville, WA (Chateau Ste. Michelle)