of the rings
Shore, Canada's big baton in Hollywood, brings his Tolkien music
The Ottawa Citizen
Elves, hobbits, dwarves, Orcs and other creatures from Tolkien
land are about to visit the National Arts Centre, and they're
bringing their music with them.
see them there Thursday and Friday, when the NAC Orchestra performs
The Lord of the Rings: a Symphony in Six Movements for Orchestra
and Chorus. It's a condensed, two-hour version of the music
that Canadian composer Howard Shore wrote for the hugely popular
film trilogy by New Zealand director Peter Jackson.
the orchestra and choirs perform the symphony (each of the six
movements corresponds to a part of the epic), Tolkien-inspired
drawings will be projected onto a big screen above the orchestra
for a sort of pop-up-book concert experience.
symphony had its debut in New Zealand in 2003. Shore says it
was a challenge to cut his three film scores down to two hours
of highlights for the concert version. After all, he spent more
than three years working on the movies and wrote more than 12
hours of music. He took home three Academy Awards, a Grammy
and a Golden Globe award for his efforts.
it down for the concert hall meant "putting aside pieces
that you love. You realize you can't put them in the two-hour
piece. You learn to give things up for the greater good of the
symphony," Shore, 57, told the Montreal Gazette when the
Montreal Symphony performed the piece early this year.
who will be in Ottawa for Thursday's performance, will give
a talk in the NAC Studio Friday at 12:30 p.m. about writing
music for the films and will answer questions from the audience
about his working methods.
not the first time the composer's movie music has received the
concert-hall treatment at the NAC. In 1998, as part of a new-music
festival, the orchestra performed Shore's spare, eerie music
for the David Cronenberg film Crash.
its debut in New Zealand, the Lord of the Rings Symphony has
been a hit with audiences in cities that include Philadelphia,
Atlanta, Columbus and Seattle, with performances coming up in
London, Tokyo, Chicago and Los Angeles.
forces include a full orchestra, a mixed choir, a boys' choir
and instrumental and vocal soloists. The Ottawa performance
will be conducted by Alexander Mickelthwaite and feature the
Canadian debut of singer Hayley Westenra, a fast-rising
17-year-old soprano from New Zealand in the Charlotte Church
classical/ crossover mould. Westenra became the fastest selling
classical artist of all time in the U.K. when her album Pure
made the Top 10 pop charts. She'll perform the songs originally
performed on the soundtrack by Annie Lennox and soprano Isabel
was Shore's idea to include projections of images by Tolkien
artists Alan Lee and John Howe during the performances. Lee
created the watercolour illustrations in the commemorative edition
of The Lord of the Rings and provided conceptual sketches for
the movie producers. Howe has created cover art for Tolkien
books and images for calendars.
drawings are like "bookmarks" for the audience during
the music, and provide "a sense of place -- that we've
arrived in Lothlorien, or we are now approaching Edoras,"
Shore told the Gazette.
native of Toronto, Shore studied at Boston's Berklee School
of Music and played sax in the Canadian band Lighthouse from
1969 to 1972. From 1975 to 1980, he was the music director for
Saturday Night Live.
first film score was for Canadian filmmaker Cronenberg's The
Brood in 1979. Shore has since worked on 10 films with Cronenberg,
including Dead Ringers, M. Butterfly and Crash. His credits
with other directors include Philadelphia, Big, The Silence
of the Lambs and The Aviator, Martin Scorsese's upcoming biography
of Howard Hughes, starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
Lord of the Rings has been his biggest and most demanding project
had read the Tolkien books in the 1960s, and recently said,
"I was ready to tackle something epic, detailed and complex
... It was an opportunity to write music to, arguably, one of
the great books of the 20th century and work with one of the
great filmmakers of the 21st century. Tolkien spent 14 years
writing the books. Three-and-a-half years (for writing the music)
is not a lot of time."
music for the three movies includes a wide range of styles and
instrumental forces to suggest the different worlds and characters
of Tolkien's novels. There is Celtic-flavoured music for the
Hobbits, Eastern-tinged music for the Elves and angry, percussive
sounds for the Orcs, for example.
the concert version of Shore's music has been a hit with Rings
fans, at least one critic was not convinced that it belonged
in a concert hall or that it deserved to be called a symphony.
call this two-hour-plus peat bog of excerpts from the popular
films a symphony is to ignore the meaning of the word,"
wrote veteran Gazette critic Arthur Kaptainis after the Montreal
sequence of scenes ... does nothing but meander from effect
to effect ..." he wrote, adding that "the fourth movement
began with the mandatory rewrite of Holst's Mars and ended with
something that sounded like an outtake from the next album by
the critic admitted that some of Shore's effects were impressive,
and that "the young Tolkien buffs who packed in found it
all amply to their liking."
said one of the things he has enjoyed about the concert performances
has been the community involvement and participation of local
children's choirs in the Rings experience.
get letters from educators and teachers about boys in school
who now think it's cool to sing in a choir because they see
boys singing in Lord of the Rings."
presents The Lord of the Rings Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Shore will give a talk Friday at 12:30 p.m. in the NAC Studio.
The Ottawa Citizen 2004
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