This week has seen the return of The Fellowship of the Ring movie to Radio City Music Hall – accompanied by the Lviv National Philharmonic Orchestra of Ukraine. There is still one performance left – tonight, Thursday 9th, and we’re told there are just a few tickets left: click here to get yours!
TORn staffer ImladrisRose was in attendance at Monday night’s performance: and it reminded her of all the very best things about the Tolkien fandom, and the joy it has brought us all. Here are her thoughts on the experience.
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring 21st Anniversary Concert at Radio City Music Hall in NYC
The Lviv National Philharmonic Orchestra of Ukraine was at the helm, bringing Howard Shore’s incredible score to the packed house in Manhattan. Led by conductor Ludwig Wicki, Shore’s sweeping pieces, expertly performed by the Ukrainian ensemble, filled the concert chamber with pure magic as we were watching the film play out before us. Soloist Kaitlyn Lusk had quite the feat before her, but performed her piece with grace and ease. The Mastervoices Adult Choir sent chills through the theatre on multiple occasions, whether it be in the halls of Khazad-dum or the Departure of Boromir. The Brooklyn Youth Chorus and their shining stars brought us a deeply haunting experience through the fall of Gandalf, and with every moment they were given to shine.
The concert was a euphoric experience, one that will not soon be forgotten by anyone in attendance. Nothing compares to a live performance like this, seeing your favorite piece played out before you, feeling the synergy of the room. Uniting under one roof for a love of the arts and The Lord of the Rings…
I’ve been a part of this fandom since my mom “dragged” me to see Fellowship opening night. I was a ride or die Harry Potter fan and wasn’t willing to consider anything could impress me more. Let’s just say that I remember audibly gasping as the Fellowship rose over that mountain peak, the Fellowship theme triumphantly booming, and by that point in my first screening, I was obsessed (thanks mom!).
Twenty-one years later, my love of all things LOTR has taken me around the globe, launched my film career, given me an immense amount of opportunity and a community that I adore (looking at you, TORnSibs). I’ve seen the rise and fall, the ebb and flow of this fandom, and overall, Ringers are a group of excellent and admirable folks. With the recent release of a certain big Amazon show, I became disheartened by a lot of what I was seeing within our beloved fandom. As someone who spent many hours with my fellow staffers, moderating comments, it was causing me to lose that love and spark that I have felt for Ringers for 20 plus years. It shone a light on the underbelly of not just a fandom, but the world in general. LOTR has always been an escape from all of our societal nonsense, but this time period was a stark reminder that even within a community you love, there can be toxicity. I LOVE a good debate about anything and everything, but when things become about hate rather than discourse, your point is lost on me. In Middle-earth, all are welcome….
Monday night’s concert reminded me of why I love this fandom so much. It’s been probably ten years since I’ve been to a screening of Fellowship and this crowd was thrilled to be there! Not only would the audience erupt into cheers after hearing a favorite piece of the score performed (which, let’s be honest, is pretty much the entire score!) or after Lusk wrapped a solo, the crowd would literally go wild when a new character came onto the screen! So much so that at times you couldn’t hear the film or the orchestra!
A stand out for me was when members of the Fellowship arrived to the Council of Elrond. Aragorn received a 7/10 volume for cheers, Legolas 8/10, but Gimli received a full 10/10 in crowd reaction! My husband remarked that he was shocked Gimli got significantly more love than Legolas, to which I replied “Gimli has more substance and better dialogue!” To each their own. Fans next to my husband jumped at Bilbo lunging for the ring, and then commented that they had forgotten that part of the film. While next to me at the exact same point, a fan laughed and remarked that he always thought that part was funny. Two completely different reactions to a moment, but both existing in harmony with one another.
The majority of people there that night (I’m quite sure) have seen these films, read these books, countless times. Yet experiencing it together, as one unified group, made it seem somehow new again. The ambiance of the venue, the exquisitely performed film score, the fans reacting in utter joy and exuberance throughout… all of this made the evening a true night to remember… and I’m forever grateful.