Please folks; stop emailing me how lucky I was to be able to attend Howard Shore’s concert because I wasn’t there. Ryan was however, and you can read what he had to say about the event here!
I visit your fantastic site at least twice daily, hoping to get the latest news and reviews of everything concerning The Lord of the Rings and the vast history of middle earth that surrounds it. But yesterday I did not visit the site. And the reason? Because I, like the three who have already posted their comments, attended the UK premier of the Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring for Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. Indeed, it was through theonering.net that I heard of this great bundle of joy when you posted an article about someone who was selling their tickets to the event on eBay. Id never bid on anything before, and was a little concerned about possible fraud etc. that always looms over these kind of things. But I thought what the hell and bid for the pair of box seats and, surprisingly, won. So, first and foremost, thankyou for posting that article on the site, cause otherwise I would had been totally unaware of the event.
But enough of the complications of how I got there, on to the juicy stuff how good the event was. On the whole, it was fabulous. The first of the four main events was a Celtic inspired set of pieces from Ireland titled The Lost Music of the Gaels. It was performed by a small band of eight headed by (and written by) Luke Daniels. The music reminded me of that from Titanic when all the Irish folk are dancing below deck. They were all enjoyable, energetic pieces with clever use of the instruments. After a 20-minute interval was a performance by a small group of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. They played The Soldiers Tale by Igor Stravinski, live to the short animated story by R.O. Blechman. The tale is about why its never a good idea to make deals with the devil, here voiced by Max Von Sydow (recently seen in Minority Report). Playing live to a film in front of an audience is never an easy task, but the orchestra played brilliantly with spot on timing from the conductor and excellent sound. After another twenty minute interval was Tannoura, an Egyptian styled series of pieces with a lot of drums. They were performed to the dance of the dervishes, a whirling art which has been practised for many a century. Once again the sound was excellent with energetic rhythms and dancers of whom you wonder how the hell they dont fall over (they were spinning round on the same spot for a good 30 minutes a-piece).
But the Lord of the Rings specifically, was beyond amazing. Throughout the whole of the hour long performance, I had this huge grin plastered over my face. I was there, in the presence of the great Howard Shore, listening to one of my all time favourite scores being performed live. The excitement was incredible like that you once felt as a kid. The symphonic arrangement was mostly the same as what can be heard on the soundtrack, with a few bits chopped out here and there to meet the 45-minute odd playing time. But I also noticed the inclusion of small bits of score not featured in the soundtrack, either used from the film or as bridges between the main themes. Talking about main themes, they were mostly all there. From the minor keyed ring theme at the beginning in The Prophecy to the triumphant Fellowship theme shortly after they leave Rivendell. And man did they should good live. I say mostly because I did notice the absence of the minor keyed Fellowship theme when Gandalf rides to Isengard, and the heart-stopping music as Gandalf falls at the Bridge of Khazad Dum. But these are incredibly minor quibbles which can be done without, and were especially forgotten when my personal favourite part was played The Breaking of the Fellowship. I had shivers of joy going down my back throughout the whole thing, but when that track was played, live, in front of my eyes, that was the climax for me, and what a climax it was. Watching Howard Shore conduct was also a highlight of the evening. With no conductors wand, he eloquently and majestically conducted the London Philharmonic Orchestra, who themselves were more than worthy to play the material. The sound in the hall from the orchestra was fantastic, one of the best Ive heard, and the three choirs (male, female and young boys) each contributed beautifully to the sound of the orchestra. How good the whole thing was, was clearly displayed by the audience (some of whom had paid the full amount of a ticket just to see this one performance) with most standing up, cheering and all clapping for a good quarter of an hour. Unfortunately there wasnt any mike for the man himself to say a few words, but the audience was so appreciative that he had to return to his conductors spot twice to take a bow only then would the audience start to leave the hall.
And so what was one of the best nights of my life came to an end, but theres no doubt that I will be going back for the next two instalments of his grand contribution to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien, and Ive already started saving for the World premier of the whole performance.
So the verdict? Absolutely, stunningly, emotionally, audibly and visually amazing. And then some.