Dear TORn staff,

After years of visiting your site daily, I am delighted to finally have a report to contribute myself. I had the pleasure of attending the U.S. premiere of Howard Shore’s LOTR symphony on March 26 in Columbus, Ohio. I also attended Mr. Shore’s autograph signing at the Virgin Megastore on March 27.

My husband and I arrived about an hour early for the symphony on Friday. We encountered no problems during our two-hour drive from Cincinnati and reached the historic Ohio Theater without incident. I stopped at the Will Call window to ask if the staff had any suggestions about where I might go if I wanted to try to get Mr. Shore’s autograph after the performance. I was advised that there are five different exits, and the staff had no idea which exit would give me the best chance of meeting Mr. Shore. Discouraged, I thanked them and was ready to enter the theater – however, at that point, another staff member informed me that Mr. Shore would be signing autographs at the Virgin Megastore on Saturday. Woo hoo! I wasn’t sure if my dear husband would be willing to drive all the way back to Columbus the next morning, but at least I still had some chance of meeting this remarkable composer.

When we arrived at our seats, we were thrilled to find Mr. Shore on stage answering some pre-submitted questions from the audience! The Q&A had just started. The questions were thoughtful, but I don’t have any new information to share. He talked about various influences on the music, working with Peter and Fran, his interest in The Hobbit, the Oscars, etc. It was terrific to actually hear him address these questions live and in person instead of reading an article or hearing a news clip.

The performance itself was wonderful. The orchestra and choral groups were not the strongest that I have ever heard, but they were definitely good. For me, the real joy was to watch Howard Shore conduct and to hear the music played live. Artwork from Alan Lee and John Howe was projected on three screens during the performance, and this added an interesting dimension to the experience. It must have been so challenging to take the full score and condense it to a two-hour symphony, but Mr. Shore did not disappoint. Shelob’s Lair was the only piece of music that I notably missed. At the end of the evening, the audience gave a well-deserved and very lengthy standing ovation to Mr. Shore and the performers. He seemed genuinely touched by all the love in the room.

My husband kindly agreed to drive back to Columbus the next day for the signing event at the Virgin Megastore. I discovered on the Virgin website that the signing would begin at 1 p.m. We arrived a bit before noon, and the line was already out the door. We were positioned in the doorway itself, which seemed like an inconvenience at first (due to all of the people coming and going) but ended up giving us a great vantage point. My husband spotted Mr. Shore’s car pull into a nearby driveway before anyone else noticed. A minute or two later, Mr. Shore strode around the corner and walked by us into the store. We were among the first to see him and applaud. Again, he seemed genuinely touched by the admiration. He had no entourage – he didn’t seem to have any minders at all. A short time later, he started the signing.

Mr. Shore was such a good sport – signing autographs, taking pictures, and shaking hands. My main goal was to thank him for his incredible score and to tell him that his music is such a gift to us. That is really all I wanted to do – more than getting an autograph, the most important thing to me was to have the opportunity to say a heartfelt thank you. I tend not to be star struck, but I found that I was getting a bit nervous as our turn approached. Fortunately, I remembered to say what I wanted to say, albeit not without a bit of embarrassment. I asked him to sign my internet-exclusive ROTK CD (the one with the Howard Shore introspective DVD). My husband asked him to sign our program from the symphony, which he personalized to me and made sure to spell my name correctly. My husband snapped a quick picture. I thanked Mr. Shore for the score, but then I forget what else I wanted to say – after having repeated it in my mind at least 100 times! I am a reasonably articulate person, so I can only attribute being tongue-tied to the fact that I was standing in front of a creative genius. On the bright side, I suppose that I now have a funny story to remember. After I thanked him, Mr. Shore asked me where in the CD packet I wanted him to sign. At the time, I did not hear him clearly. Instead of asking him to repeat the question, though, I merely smiled and said that I thought he was incredible. Oh my. Fortunately, he smiled warmly, said thank you very much, and proceeded to sign in a perfectly appropriate place. When my husband snapped our picture, I regained my composure and was able to express the rest of my gratitude.

This was such a wonderful experience. My work schedule does not permit me to travel to conventions, premieres, etc. and I have never met any of the cast or crew. For Mr. Shore to visit us in Ohio was such a treat – one that I will never forget!