My two children and I were visiting Seattle on holiday this past week. I was thrilled to learn on arrival that our visit would coincide with the first of four performances of the LOTR Symphony, conducted by Howard Shore himself! We got tickets right away, and a good thing, too, for I believe the performance sold out.

Our seats were fine, in the front row of the upper tier (I like to sit up high for musical performances). The music was wonderful! It seemed very close to that on the movie soundtracks, to which I’ve listened about a million times as I do housework or drive to work. Actually, I had rather hoped that the music live would sound different from the soundtracks — begin to take on a life of its own, as it were — but perhaps it’s too soon.

The first half of the program was music from FOTR – two movements; the second half was music from TTT and ROTK, two movements each. They felt more compressed to me than did FOTR, but the familiar themes from each score were satisfyingly present.

All involved did themselves proud. And there were an immense number of musicians on the stage! The Seattle Symphony played with skill and enthusiasm, the Seattle Symphony Chorale and the Northwest Boychoir sang beautifully in Elvish and the Dwarf tongue, the three soloists were fine (especially boy soprano David Farris), and Sissel’s lovely crystalline voice was a pleasure to hear. (She matched Annie Lennox’s voice and intonation very closely on “Into the West”…I wonder whose idea that was, and why) Howard Shore had complete command of this huge assemblage, and was a delight to watch. (The projected artwork was uninteresting compared to what was happening on stage). I had a ball. My children did okay (they really wanted to go hear Sonic Youth instead. Philistines…).

Highly recommended! I strongly urge anyone who has an opportunity to hear this splendid symphony to go. Now. Without delay!



Thought I’d report on the afternoon performance today (17th) at the wonderful Benaroya Hall in Seattle. It was a sweltering 90 degrees today, and my wife and I’d had a terrible morning, so I was ever so grateful to be in air-conditioned bliss. The crowd was quite a mix -sophisticated couples, giggling teenage girls, families with kids, old ladies, jeans and formal dresses, and of course, the lady with the 3-foot homemade Frodo doll on her lap (yikes). I had great seats in Orchestra Right, but I don’t think there are bad seats in that 2500-seat Hall ( Our performance was nearly sold out.

After hearing he’d been unable to attend one or two of these shows, I was please to see Howard Shore conducting, energetic and modest. I had along with me a print out of the translations provided here and found it very useful. It added a bit to know what was being chanted in Elvish, Dwarvish, etc. To echo most of the reviews posted here, this was a great experience – at once thrilling, soothing, and emotional. Initially disappointed when I’d heard that the accompanying visuals were drawings and not movie clips, I see the wisdom in that choice now. The drawings helped remind me of where we were, but allowed me to focus on the music more than video clips would have. This music will impact me so much more now having had this more direct experience with it.

I have two nits about the performance: I would have liked more sketches of the characters. We had plenty of Gollum, but most others were at a distance, if at all. This was a character-driven story and film for me, and I think having more images of those characters would have made a great experience nearly flawless. The other nit is that the men’s portion of the chorus just didn’t have the same “oomph” as the Maori choir for the Khazad-dum sequence. But I wasn’t expecting it to.

But there were several moments that I had the same goosebumps I did on watching the film for the first time: Rivendell, Dwarrowdelf, Lighting of the Beacons… and there were a few moments that simply overwhelmed me as if I’d heard it for the first time: Sissel’s renditions of Gollum’s Song was heartbreaking and eerie. Better than the one on CD, in my opinion. And her “Into the West”! Wow. There were no dry eyes between me, my wife, and my parents. I saw many others wiping them back as well. I don’t think when the credits were rolling in the movie theater, or when I’m listening to the CD, I was really paying attention to that song. For some reason, I’d always appreciated Annie’s tremendous job on the song, but hadn’t really given the song it’s due. Sissel’s delivery drew me in and the full impact of the tune, and indeed of the whole story, just washes over you like a wave. I won’t watch the Grey Havens the same way again.

The crowd leapt to their feet before Howard could lower his hands (applause ettiquette wasn’t this audience’s strong point), and we brought him back out three times for more humble bows. We went home so much happier, humming all the way.



Just thought you’d like a short review of Howard Shore’s performance with the Seattle Symphony.

Last night I attended Howard Shore’s performance with the Seattle Symphony, needless to say it was spectacular. Just being able to see him live was awesome. I enjoyed watching him as he conducted in his own style, different than any I have seen before. I can only describe his style as intense, with extreme bursts of energy and emotion. The Seattle Symphony was fantastic. All of the special guest soloist did a great job. The soloist I was most impressed by was a beautiful Norwegian-born singer by the name of Sissel. She sang the major solos throughout the final movement. She seemed to have an excellent grasp on all of the music. During songs like Gollum’s Song and Into the West, she did not try to mimic the exact performances of Emiliana Torrini or Annie Lennox instead she offered a perfect complement to the style of they’re songs. She was absolutely brilliant.

On to the visual effects, it was so nice to see more of Alan Lee’s and John Howe’s work and how it was put together so nicely with the music. It completely helped transport you back once more to Middle Earth. At times it was a challenge to decide what to watch Mr. Shore or the visual effects, either way the night was amazing. Hope everyone else enjoyed it as much as I did.

Thanks, Xoanon for all you do with TORn, it remains my favorite web site.