ScottyJoy writes: I just got home from attending the Lord of the Rings Symphony in Baltimore. It was a wonderful evening. Howard Shore’s friend John Maurceri conducted the Baltimore Symphony with the Baltimore Choral Arts Society (100 voices), Maryland State Boychoir (32 voices), two female soloists (Susan Egan and Tammy Tyburczy), and the boy soprano who was uncredited in the program notes.
The percussion was slightly elevated across the back row of the orchestra and the choir was on risers behind them. The men were in the top two rows spanning the risers, then the next 4 rows had the sopranos (I think) on the conductor’s left, altos on the right, and the boys in the middle. The screen for the Alan Lee/John Howe artwork was in front of the orchestra hanging down from the ceiling. It was a very effective arrangement visually, and the sound was balanced pretty well.
I met one of the singers in the parking lot on his way in to the concert hall. I asked him how rehearsals had gone. He said they had had lots of vocal rehearsals because the music was difficult, not so much in the words, but the notes/chords. They had only practiced twice with the BSO – once last night and again this afternoon. He said they only had to tweak a few things. I wish I had had the opportunity to sit in on rehearsals as FredO did in Pittsburgh.
My friends and cousins and I had tickets in the 8th row Center. We couldn’t see all the orchestra members or what the percussionists were doing in the back, so maybe someone else can comment on what it was like to be able to see the more unique instruments. I was prepared for the tempos to be somewhat different based on what others have said in different cities. I was surprised that the tempo was accelerated for The Breaking of the Fellowship and Forth Eorlingas. I love those pieces and would rather they had lingered longer. The Lighting of the Beacons was a little slower than the CD, but not annoyingly so, as others have commented.
The featured instrumentalists and the soloists took their artistic licenses, which is one thing that made it unique. The other was the different balance. I really appreciate the mix on the CD now because there is so much going on that is audible. I couldn’t hear as many different sounds when it was live, but an instrument or a vocal phrase would be more prominent than on the CD. When the Chorus’ consonants came through, like their “T”s or “K”s, it was very powerful. The subtle lighting effects also added to the power, as with the red lights on the Choir during Khazad-dum.
We were a pretty symphony-savvy audience, as all the applause was held for the end of the 2nd and 6th Movements. But when we applauded, it was full of enthusiasm and appreciation. We called John Maurceri and soloists back out twice. He seemed very pleased with how it went.
It was a fabulous experience that I only wish had lasted longer, or that I could take in again tomorrow evening. The BSO was splendid, and the Chorus and Boychoir added so much. I really want to thank the singers who devoted the most time over the past weeks to making our two hour trip to Middle Earth feel so real.