Just thought Id share the events of the last two days with everybody, as they were among the best experiences I have had. Some people may know this, some may not, but I am a passionate fan of orchestral music, and a huge film fan. Combine the two and you have a good idea of how enthusiastic I was when I heard Howard Shore was coming to town. Please bear in mind that this is a personal report from a personal site, and reflects my views ONLY….and pictures will follow soon!!!
Thanks to the TORn site, I was able to secure myself both the opportunity to attend a question and answer session in the presence of Howard Shore, and the privilege of experiencing a live performance of the LOTR score, as performed by most of the original musicians and vocalists.
Saturdays Q&A (organised by Music from the Movies magazine) provided a wonderful insight into the way in which Howard Shore approached the mammoth task of scoring what would be a huge motion picture. Although brief (questions were asked within a 30 minute slot), the questions asked revealed much about the films and the music. Unfortunately I wasnt able to get my question answered, but what was answered summarised what I wanted to know anyway.
So, in brief, and by no means a transcript, this was what the wonderful composer had to say:
On the score: Howard Shore viewed the score not as a piece in three parts, but instead he aimed to reflect each of the six books when composing the music for the films. The full length version of the score totalled 11 hours (which will eventually/hopefully become an 8 cd/1 dvd box set), with Howard requiring an editor to ensure the right parts of the score were chosen to complement the scenes of each film. Inspiration came from the locations for each part of the film, which he visited several times and always provided him with a wealth of ideas. Unsurprisingly, the score took the best part of three months to record .at least 14 hours a day, 7 days a week .for 3 months. Now *thats* dedication!!! Howard was also questioned on his conducting technique, and he spoke of a new technique that he had been introduced to while working on the score. When it came to the recording of the Return of the King, he abandoned the baton in favour of conducting with both arms instead. The reason? Using the baton meant that the energy used while conducting was not always equally balanced. By not using a baton at all, he felt that he was achieving a balance of energy and was able to control the performance better on both sides of the orchestra.
On choice of instruments: In regards to the use of instruments, Howard commented that he wanted to show evolvement in the type of instrument used in relation to the way the story evolved. For instance, the tin whistle was used in the earlier movements of the score, to represent the hobbits, but was later substituted by the richer sound of the flute to mirror their increasing depth in character.
On Peter Jackson: Howard Shore was full of praise for Peter Jackson, likening him to a great leader who really held everything together. When asked if he could ever envisage another version of the Lord of the Rings being made in the future, he joked that Peter was looking forward to seeing other versions, before saying that he could not in reality imagine a version of LOTR other than Jacksons, commenting upon the impact that the three films have had over the last three years.
Quick fire questions…
Favourite part of the score? Sam and Frodo ‘friendship’ pieces
Which character do you liken yourself to most? Frodo .the bearer of a great task!
Will the Hobbit happen? Everybody, including himself and Peter Jackson, want the Hobbit to happen, but they are awaiting rights issues to be resolved
Do you miss working on the film? Howard answered that it was strange to not be doing something on the film score when it took up almost four years of his life, and it was something that he was still adjusting to.
Then it was all over .other than for Howard to stay and sign cds and other LOTR related items…but there was still Sunday’s performance…..
Well…what a show!! The Royal Festival Hall was home to the performance of the score, with the set list as follows…
Movement 1: (Fellowship of the Ring) The Prophecy, Concerning Hobbits, The Shadow of the Past, A Short Cut to Mushrooms, The Old Forest, A Knife In The Dark.
Movement 2: Many Meetings, The Ring Goes South, A Journey In The Dark, The Bridge of Khazad-Dum, Lothlorien, Gandalf’s Lament, Farewell To Lorien, The Great River, The Breaking Of The Fellowship.
Movement 3: (The Two Towers) Foundations Of Stone, The Taming Of Smeagol, The Riders Of Rohan, The Black Gate Is Closed, Evenstar, The White Rider, Treebeard, The Forbidden Pool.
Movement 4: The Hornburg, Forth Eorlingas, Isengard Unleashed, Gollum’s Song (a nice surprise for some reason I wasnt expecting this one to be included).
Movement 5: (Return of the King) Hope And Memory, The White Tree, The Steward Of Gondor, Cirith Ungol, Anduril.
Movement 6: The End Of All Things, The Return Of The King, The Grey Havens, Into The West.
….and each part of each movement did not fail to make my spine tingle or bring a tear to my eye. I had an impressive view of the orchestra from one of the boxes, and seeing the orchestra perform live drew attention to small details that may not have been picked up on when listening to the recorded versions. For instance, the percussionist who took to wearing a large glove to create the *exact* tone of the drum beat!
The score was beautifully performed, voices and instruments alike were seamless, although I would say that the male voice choir were sometimes a little on the quiet side. Hearing the score being performed live enabled me to hear the music in a new degree of clarity that could not be possible any other way – I was able to ‘focus’ on one particular instrument and hear note for note what that instrument was contributing to the overall piece.
Interestingly, Howard Shore did not conduct with a baton at all during the performance, and his energy seemed to be boundless, putting his entire heart and mind into directing the movement of each piece…truly magical. Sketches by Alan Lee helped keep track of the score in relation to the plot…not that I needed it!! The overwhelming and well deserved standing ovation only proved what a wonderful occasion this had been…one that will live in all of our minds for a very long time!
I went to the concert conducted by Howard Shore and it was wonderful!!!!!!
The London Philharmonic are a seriously good orchestra (well, you’ll know that from listening to them on the CD’s ), as are the choirs. Full marks to the London Oratory boy soprano’s, who brought a wonderful purity to their solo and group pieces.
The female soloist Sissal, did some very good interpretations, but her voice was a touch too warm and earthly to do Gollum’s song perfectly. Not a criticism, I promise, just that I prefer the more unearthly version. The illustrations were mostly Alan Lee’s although there were some of John Howe’s so they were lovely to look at, but the main pleasure was just sitting there listening to the music I love being played live. If you get the chance to go, wherever in the world Mr Shore is conducting, go, and don’t wait to lock the house, it will be there when you get back, but you’ll be richer for the experience.
What can I say! 3pm Sunday afternoon. The Royal festival Hall London was packed as we waited in anticiaption for Mr Shore to appear. He arrived to thunderous applause and cheers. The orchestra tuned up and by this time we were on the edge of our seats. The music started and we were not disappointed , Mr Shore took and the pictures of Alan Leetransporting us to middle earth as if we were living and breathing it in. What a show Shore showed all his talent and brilliance in that one performance. Certainly worth the wait and just can’t wait for him to do it again. Well done all involved what a show!!
I know you have had reports from other renditions of the LoTR symphony but I have just returned from todays concert conducted by Howard Shore at the Royal Festival Hall, London, UK and I just have to say it was the most fabulous experience. The orchestra was the London Philharmonic, the Choir were the London Voices and The London Oratory School all of whom performed the music for the original film soundtracks. You could tell that they knew the score inside out and back to front, they were note perfect. The female soloist who sang Gollums song and the most haunting rendition of Into the West – amongst others – was a scandinavian vocalist called Sissel. She had the most beautiful voice and during Into the West there was a lot of stifled crying going on in the seats around me!. Howard Shore is a fabulous conductor, very expressionate and full of energy and his audience loved him!, he took two bows before the interval and had to come back for two encores at the end of the concert to tumultous cheers and whoops from the usually rather reserved English audience. All in all it was an amazing experience and anyone going to the rendition at the Royal Albert Hall in honour of Bilbo and Frodo’s birthdays on 22nd September 2004 are in for a real treat.