Ringer Rosie wrote this excellent review of the Mythic Journeys conference.
What more could a Lord of the Rings fan ask for than to meet Alan Lee and Howard Shore in the same day?
A dear friend and I attended the Mythic Journeys conference for the specific reason of seeing Alan Lee. Saturday we attended his workshop, and it was everything I could have wanted. He spent about an hour showing slides of his artwork and photos of behind the scenes of LOTR, talking about what was on the screen as he clicked through them all. He showed quite a few drawings from his book, Castles (making me kick myself for leaving it in the car when I decided that the poor man couldn’t possibly autograph everything I’d brought with me), and he showed quite a few drawings from LOTR that I had not seen before – mostly sketches, which he explained were sometimes the beginnings of ideas of how they wanted things to look, drawings in the planning stages of things.
He seemed not to want to leave when his talk was over and asked if anyone had any questions. Of course, there were several of us who did. While answering, he hopped down off the stage and came to stand right in front of the audience (which was surprisingly small, though that made autographs easier for us later). I confess that I don’t remember a lot of the questions and answers (including one of my own!) because I was awestruck by having Alan Lee standing five feet away from me. I do remember that he said his preferred work is in books, that he enjoyed doing the movies but felt that books were what he enjoyed most. I asked him where his Oscar was, and he said it was on his mantel and he felt that he might build a little shrine to it – a very cute answer given with a shy smile.
Finally a woman asked if he could sign her book so she wouldn’t be late to the Howard Shore concert, and we all got in a vague line to get autographs. He was so gracious, listening to each person as they told him what they wanted him to know about how much they loved him and his work. He signed my first edition Faeries for my daughter, and he signed my copy of Fellowship (the one illustrated by him) for me, all the while listening and thanking me as I told him that we had come to the conference specifically to see him. He seemed touched by that, and gave both of us kisses and hugs.
To us, every penny of that $275 each that we spent was worth it. Alan Lee is a charming, lovely man, and I feel truly honored to have been able to speak to him and be in his presence.
So, on to the concert! Others have already given the information about what was played, and I am too unfamiliar with musical instruments or terms to do a proper review of all that, but I can say that it was one of the most moving experiences of my life. Howard Shore received a standing ovation when he first appeared on stage, an ovation that was loud and enthusiastic. All of the singers were wonderful, with the possible exception of the gentleman who sang Aragorn’s song from the Coronation – he did it well, but his voice was not what I expected since he didn’t sound in the least like Viggo. Sissel was very compelling, she has a beautiful voice that seems perfect for this music. The young boy who sang was also as close to perfect as you could want.
But, of course, the main reason I was there was to watch Howard Shore. I was sitting in the first row of the balcony and from my viewpoint, he almost appeared to dance with his music. It could be seen that he was completely engrossed in what he was doing, and was very energetic. This was my first symphony experience but I’ve seen conductors on tv, and I’ve never seen one who so wholly dramatized the music in his movements as Mr. Shore. Even with just the view of his back, it was easy to see that he was doing something he loved passionately.
There were, I believe, three curtain calls for him. He brought back Sissel, of course, and he also brought out Alan Lee whose art was shown during the concert. He gestured to all of the orchestra and singers so that they had their share of the applause, and did this several times.
And then it was over and we left the building, hoping to find where Mr. Shore might come out so that we could meet him. Luckily, we found a group of people who were waiting where he had signed the night before, and we were eventually rewarded with his coming up the steps. Everyone applauded when he appeared. He seemed to be in great spirits, joking with the crowd about what they wanted. He, too, was gracious and friendly. My friend and I were able to get autographs on our ROTK cd booklets, which made our day complete…one of the most magnificent days we’ve ever had, thanks to these two lovely gentlemen who have already given us all so much.
One other side note: During the intermission at the concert, we spotted Mr. Lee in the lobby below. It appeared that he was in line, possibly for something to drink. He was approached by several people while we watched, and signed for a few people. It impressed me because he was not surrounded by assistants (or anyone at all) to protect him – he was standing there alone, as if he were an unknown nobody. [Ringer On Stage adds: Actually, there were two of us acting as Alan Lee’s escorts at the concert. We were from Mythic Journeys and attended the concert with him.] You just have to love these men for their approachability and gentle graciousness to the fans.