“[Howard Shore’s] instinct for melody is superb, his integration of legitimate ancient music sources with contemporary-sounding tonal clusters and harmonic invention is terrific, and, most of all, he creates, as both Jackson and Tolkien did before him, an entire imagined universe that is both detailed and consistent.”
— Newark Star-Ledger

New York, NY, April 29, 2005 – Howard Shore’s The Lord of the Rings Symphony will receive five performances in the U.S. in May 2005. On Saturday, May 14, the work will be performed in Richmond, Virginia by the Richmond Symphony and in Des Moines, Iowa by the Des Moines Symphony (with a repeat performance in Des Moines on May 15). A short time later the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra will give three performances at George Mason University (May 27, 28, and 29).

Evidence of the Symphony’s surging popularity can be found in the number of orchestras that have signed on for repeat performances. In July, for example, three orchestras that presented the work last summer will give encore performances: The Houston Symphony Orchestra (July 8 and 9), the Philadelphia Orchestra, which will play the work at the Mann Center (July 15), and the Pittsburgh Symphony, which will give two performances at Heinz Hall (July 21 and 22). Other North American engagements in the coming months include three concerts in Toronto (June 4 and 5) with the Kitchener Waterloo Philharmonic, and performances by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra (July 15 and 16).

Later in the summer, the Lord of the Rings Symphony will return to Europe. On August 8 and 9 it will be performed in Athens, Greece by the State Symphony in the Acropolis’s Odeon Herod Atticus, one of the city’s most famous outdoor theaters. Less than a week later the NDR Philharmonie will present it at the prestigious Schleswig-Holstein Festival in Germany (August 13). Norway’s acclaimed Oslo Philharmonic will play the Lord of the Rings Symphony in Oslo’s Frognerparken on August 27 for a crowd expected to top ten thousand; the same orchestra will give another performance on September 3 in Bergen. The vocal soloist in the Athens, Oslo and Bergen performances will be the Norwegian pop star Sissel. A list of performances of the Lord of the Rings Symphony scheduled for the 2005/2006 season will be announced in the coming weeks.
Since its debut performance in Wellington, New Zealand on November 29, 2003, Shore’s The Lord of the Rings Symphony has been performed to full houses more than 50 times on four continents. Audiences from Sydney and Tokyo to Los Angeles and London have greeted the two-hour work with rousing ovations following performances in some of the world’s most famous venues – including Sydney’s Opera House and London’s Royal Albert Hall. Some of the world’s leading international orchestras – including the Philadelphia Orchestra and the London Philharmonic – have performed the Symphony as well as regional orchestras from Albuquerque and Salt Lake City to Dallas and Hartford. In fall 2004 alone The Lord of the Rings Symphony received 25 performances in America and Europe including a remarkable and historic concert by the National Philharmonic of Russia in Moscow’s Kremlin Palace Theater.

Shore takes particular pride in the fact that performances of The Lord of the Rings Symphony around the world have been given not by a single touring orchestra but almost entirely by local performers: “The symphony has been presented around the world, but regardless of where it has been done the performances have been given by local artists. That’s the real joy of it for me: this work is helping awaken community interest in the symphony orchestra.” In addition to Shore, there are five other conductors performing the piece around the world: John Mauceri, Alexander Mickelthwate, Markus Huber, Alastair Willis and Terry Edwards.

Carl Mancuso, Vice President of Heinz Hall, commented: “We are excited to bring The Lord of the Rings back to Pittsburgh this summer. Not only was last year’s run of three concerts a sell-out, but the concerts attracted a nontraditional and very enthusiastic audience. As we seek to develop audiences of the future, The Lord of the Rings is just the ticket.”

About The Lord of the Rings Symphony

Howard Shore wrote his six-movement The Lord of the Rings Symphony for symphony orchestra, adult and children’s choirs, as well as solo instrumentalists and vocalists, totaling more than 200 musicians on stage. Working with conductor John Mauceri, who first suggested that the music of The Lord of the Rings be preserved as an independent work for the concert hall, Shore created a two-hour symphony drawing from the nearly 12 hours of music he composed for Peter Jackson’s phenomenally successful film trilogy. (Shore received three Oscars and four Grammy awards for the soundtrack recordings). The six movements of the symphony correspond to the progression of the epic story across the six books that comprise the three-volume trilogy, capturing the enormous complexity and limitless imagination of J.R.R. Tolkien’s creation – from the simple, pastoral beauty of the hobbits’ Shire to the magic and mystery of the Elves and the monumental battle scenes – in music by turns explosive, ethereal and, ultimately, transcendent.

As Doug Adams, author of the soon-to-be-published book The Music of the Lord of the Rings, explained in a Chicago Tribune interview, “There’s a different style of music for each culture of characters: hobbit, elf, dwarf. If you go to the symphony performance it’s very much like an abstract version of Tolkien’s story.”

Shore achieves this enormous feat by the ingenious use and juxtaposition of a plethora of recurring motifs – more than 50 in all – associated with the various characters and places in the books. Shore’s employment of some instruments foreign to the traditional Western symphony orchestra and of choral settings in Tolkien’s languages help conjure up the ancient beauty of Middle Earth, its diverse inhabitants, and the harrowing struggle between the forces of good and evil.

Howard Shore is currently working on King Kong, another film project with Peter Jackson. He is also working on an opera, The Fly, based on his film collaboration with David Cronenberg, for Los Angeles Opera. Earlier this year, his score for The Aviator (his third collaboration with director Martin Scorsese) won a Golden Globe as well as a Critics’ Choice award and his soundtrack for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and the song “Into the West” both won Grammy Awards. His scores for the previous installments of the trilogy – The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring – each won a Grammy as well.

Shore likens the daunting experience of writing the music for the three Lord of the Rings films to that of the humble hobbit asked to carry the ring. “When I started,” he told the Chicago Tribune, “I was the hobbit with the ring saying, ‘I will do this. I will take the ring to Mordor, although I do not know the way.’” Shore considers his work on The Lord of the Rings to be the culmination of everything he has done in his first 40 years of writing music.

Critical acclaim for Howard Shore’s The Lord of the Rings Symphony

“[Howard Shore’s] instinct for melody is superb, his integration of legitimate ancient music sources with contemporary-sounding tonal clusters and harmonic invention is terrific, and, most of all, he creates, as both Jackson and Tolkien did before him, an entire imagined universe that is both detailed and consistent.” — Newark Star-Ledger

“There’s no denying the sweep and rich texture of the work, with its Celtic-like tunes, moody pop songs, and effective use of choral voices (think Carmina Burana, only darker). And Shore’s nod to Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle at the very end, with the orchestra reveling in the healing power of a major chord, makes a satisfying coda…When the last notes dissipated, it sounded as if the demonstrative audience would keep the ovation going until long after all signs of Elvish had left the building.” — Baltimore Sun

“Shore’s musical opus is every bit as impressive as Tolkien’s literary one, standing on its own as a sweeping, operatic experience, even when liberated from the majesty of Jackson’s trilogy.”
— The Seattle Times

“The ‘Lord of the Rings Symphony’ is still a big success because of the power and appeal of Shore’s themes.” — Columbus Dispatch

Upcoming performances of Howard Shore’s The Lord of the Rings Symphony

May 14: Richmond, Virginia
Richmond Symphony Orchestra/Landmark Theater

May 14 and 15: Des Moines, Iowa
Des Moines Symphony Orchestra/Civic Center

May 27, 28 and 29: Fairfax, Virginia
Fairfax Symphony Orchestra/George Mason University

Jun 4 and 5: Toronto, ON
Kitchener Waterloo Philharmonic/Raffi Hall, Kitchener (6/4) and Thomson Hall, Toronto (two performances on 6/5)

July 8 and 9: Houston, TX
Houston Symphony Orchestra/Jones Hall

July 15: Philadelphia, PA
Philadelphia Orchestra/Mann Center

July 15 and 16: Buffalo, NY
Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra/Artpark Theater

July 21 and 22: Pittsburgh, PA
Pittsburgh Symphony/Heinz Hall

August 8 and 9: Athens, Greece
State Symphony/Odeon Herod Atticus

August 13: Schleswig-Holstein, Germany
NDR Philharmonie/Schleswig-Holstein Festival

August 27: Oslo, Norway
Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra/Frognerparken

September 3: Bergen, Norway
Oslo Philharmonic/Festplassen