Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Fantasy Con Videos

Last week, I gave three presentations at Fantasy Con in Salt Lake City, Utah. (I also sat in on a couple of panels, and got to spend a little quality backstage time with cast members from The Hobbit and LOTR, hence the picture.) 

Two of my three presentations discussed the still-forming music of the Hobbit. While I don't believe those will be appearing online in any official capacity, a newly revised presentation on the music of The Lord of the Rings was filmed for TheOneRing.net's streaming service. That video was divided into three parts, and may be accessed HERE, HERE, and HERE.

This presentation marked the first time I was able demonstrate a few of the connections between Howard Shore's Hobbit and Rings scores. I didn't delve into too much detail--there will be time for that later--but I hope I was able to crack the door just a little and show what lurks behind it.

Huge thanks to everyone who came and said "hello" at the event!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Fantasy Con

For the past few months, I've spent most of my create time outside of Middle-earth. That's about to change. Book two--which I've teased on Twitter and in online interviews, but am not yet ready to fully announce--is now in editing. That means I'm headed back to Tolkien's world.

To kick things off, I'll be appearing at Fantasy Con in Salt Lake City over the Fourth of July weekend. I'm scheduled for two events right now, and we're lining up a book-signing as well. And hey, maybe there will be a surprising announcement or two in store ...

See you in SLC!


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Maps to the Stars

Interested in hearing the first single from Howard Shore's new score to David Cronenberg's film Maps to the Stars? It's now available for purchase/download on both iTunes and Amazon. It's a fascinating, tabla-fueled glimpse of things to come!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Garden Party

This audio isn't extraordinarily clean, but I do believe you'll get the idea.

Huge thanks to Luzern and the brilliant 21st Century Symphony Orchestra for hosting. It's always a thrill to be even a small part of one of their extraordinary programs.

Let's do this again soon!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Extensions and Interviews

Two lovely bits of news today--which I'll combine in one post, since I'm still battling the remnants of jet lag ...

First, Peter Jackson has formally announced via his Facebook page that Howard Shore has scored the additional scenes in the Extended Edition of The Desolation of Smaug. The added material both looks and sounds great!

Second, tonight is the Howard Shore concert in Dublin, Ireland. Below, please find a great interview that Andrew McKimm sent in. Click the image to expand it, or see the full text below.

I'm off on another plane shortly, but I'll be back soon!


From Dead Ringers to Lord of the Rings An Interview with Howard Shore  

In December 2001, I remember watching the initial frames of the first Lord of the Rings movie with immense trepidation. I wanted desperately for the film to live up to my experience of the book but was preparing myself for yet another sword-and-sorcery disappointment. My fears were completely allayed when the cart bearing Gandalf and Frodo crossed the bridge into Hobbiton and Howard Shore’s Concerning Hobbits theme started. It’s a still-magic film moment when the viewer is pulled out of their seat and transported straight into Middle-Earth. It is an instant of innocence and wonder like being re-born or getting one’s childhood back again. When I spoke to Howard Shore recently he told me that such a reaction is precisely what the filmmakers had been trying to achieve. “That was the goal, that’s what we were attempting – the feeling that you were going to be in a story that was truthful, honest and loving”. These last words also seem to sum up the composer himself. His voice is suffused with a beguiling gentleness and sincerity. Rather like one of his own soundtracks. He appears entirely humble – aware of what he has achieved yet still with his mind resolutely set on the future. Very hobbit-like. Shore is perhaps the only film composer for whom the mantle “Symphonic” truly fits his work. Interviewing him felt like being able to pick up the phone and talk to Johannes Brahms. Mr. Shore will be in Dublin next week to introduce a programme premiering both his latest orchestral works and also The Return of the King movement from The Lord of the Rings Symphony. He is no stranger to Ireland but this will be his first visit to Dublin. I asked him was I correct in detecting a Celtic flavour in much of the music for the Shire. Concerning Hobbits is first presented on tin whistle and fiddle after all. “With The Fellowship of the Ring we were trying to design a piece of work that would seem as if it had been written five or six thousand years ago. Celtic music is very old - the ideas and sounds take you back in a historical sense to the very origins of music.”

The Concerning Hobbits melody is central to the movies and perfectly captures themes of wistful innocence, hope, heroism, and loss.

Did it take him a long time to compose such a crucial and instantly memorable tune? “I had travelled to New Zealand early in the film’s production and was inspired by the imagery that the team were already conjuring up. When I returned, I spent time walking in the oak woodland close to my home and I tried to imagine what it was like to actually live in the Shire.” Shore laughs with a quiet realisation. “I had probably been trying to do that ever since I first read the books in the 1960’s! After that the theme came rather quickly.” He adds: “While I’m writing, my environment is very important to me – ideas are germinating in the woods. I always feel connected to Tolkien through his love of nature.” 
Much of Howard Shore’s melody-writing, particularly for the elves, is riven with a fragile longing for a purer world, one that seems unattainable or in danger of being lost. These ideas are pure Tolkien. Does he feel as an artist that this is a vision that he shares with the late professor? “While I’m working on the movies, I’m always trying to connect with Tolkien’s ideas, his sensibilities, the world that he created. I try to always mirror in music the images and words of the films. His books are always open on my desk while I’m writing”. The Lord of the Rings soundtracks represent a watershed in Howard Shore’s life as a composer. From the 1979 onwards he has written the music for almost all of fellow-Canadian director, David Cronenberg’s movies. Although lacking the hummable tunes of the Rings movies, anyone who has seen 1988’s Dead Ringers or Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs will attest to how effective and creepy his music is. “I used music in a very specific – a more psychological way - to work around the edges of the screen, to deepen the story-telling. I wanted to balance all of the arts in a very cohesive way, to immerse the viewer in the drama.”

How did he then trade in a Dead Ring for the One Ring? “All through the 90’s I became an avid opera-goer and started attending the Met on a regular basis. I fell in love with Italian Opera. With its abundance of writing for both solo and choral voices, its use of Tolkien’s invented languages, the music for The Lord of the Rings could be more accurately described as an opera than as a symphony. Film composers owe a huge debt to Wagner and his development of the leitmotif (a recurring melody that is associated with a certain character, object, place, emotion, or idea).” Shore’s Dublin concert will include the Irish Première of Mythic Gardens - A Concerto for Cello and Orchestra. Howard Shore has been writing music since he has been 8 or 9 when he took his first steps with counterpoint exercises. His work ethic and approach to writing the music to such gargantuan works as the Tolkien films is inspiring. “Even at my age (67) I still feel like a student, looking at scores and studying them. I try to write each day. It’s just a pencil moving across a page. Some days are better and some days are not so good. When I look back on my progress after a certain period of time has elapsed it’s staggering to see how much music one can produce. At times I felt like Frodo with the Ring, having the responsibility to write the music for a book that has been around for over 60 years and which has such a tremendous resonance with so many people who care so deeply about its ideas. Music is a journey. To quote Bilbo: ‘The road goes ever on…’ ”.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Shore in Dublin

After next week's performance in Luzern, Howard Shore will be off to Ireland where the RTÉ Concert Orchestra will present a concert of his music conducted by Ludwig Wicki. Shore will provide the introduction.

The program and ticket details are below. Here, too, is a short interview that Shore did with The Independent, regarding the upcoming show.

Presented by the National Concert Hall and RTÉ Concert Orchestra
Saturday 26th April, 8pm
Room: Main Auditorium
RTÉ Concert Orchestra
Ludwig Wicki, conductor
Emma Jane Murphy, cello
Chorus featuring D.I.T. Choral Society
Introduced by Howard Shore
Fanfare for Organ and Brass
Selections from Seven Pieces for Chamber Orchestra
Mythic Gardens Concerto for Cello and Orchestra
The Prophecy and The Return of the King from The Lord of the Rings Symphony for Orchestra and Chorus
Prices: €65, €55, €45
20% discount for Friends of the National Concert Hall
10% discount for Groups of 10 or more
Howard Shore In Conversation with Tony Clayton-Lea
Saturday 26th April, 12pm
Room: John Field Room
Price: €5
Tickets available to concert ticket holders only. You can purchase tickets for the talk and the concert here.
Booking available for Friends of the National Concert Hall from 26th February, please log in using your Friends log-in to book your tickets

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


Hi everyone,

Very happy to announce that I'll be giving a pre-concert talk with Howard Shore at this upcoming concert in Luzern. If you're anywhere near Switzerland, I simply must insist that you attend! The program is scheduled to include the following:

18.30 Uhr, Konzertsaal: 
«Nerakhoon» (2008)
Suite für Mezzo-Soprano, Chor and Streicher 

«Mythic Garden»
Concerto für Violoncello und Orchester


«The Lord of the Rings Symphony» (Auszüge) 
   «The Fellowship of the Ring» (2001)
     The Prophecy
     Concerning Hobbits

   «The Return of the King» (2003)
     Hope and Memory
     The White Tree
     The Steward of Gondor
     Cirith Ungol
     The End of All Things
     The Return of the King
     The Grey Havens
     Into the West 

Please come say "hello" if you are in attendance!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Monday, January 6, 2014

Smaug Alert

Hi everyone,

Very sorry for the lack of updates and answers lately. I'm pushing myself to hit a few deadlines on another project, so haven't been on the site as often as I'd like. Also, as I've said in the past, some answers simply have to wait -- both because of spoiler issues and because I'm hoping to speak more compressively about The Music of the Hobbit Films at some point in the future and I want to leave myself something to say! ;)

However, during the past few weeks, I did manage to sit in on a couple of podcasts to talk Smaug. So, if you're so inclined, feel free to lend your ears to The Soundcast and to Tall Tale Radio.

We have one more year to go on this particular roller coaster ... and then the real fun begins! At this point, I think I'm due back in Middle-earth sometime in March, so I should be able to post here a bit more regularly ... other deadlines permitting. As ever, if you're trying to get my attention on the blog and it seems like I'm MIA, please pester me on Twitter. Sadly, I still have no more information on the Complete Recordings of Live Performances than I did last time I posted about them, but I have a feeling we'll know more in another year when the Hobbit films wrap.

Ok, see you soon!

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Hobbit: Production Video 14

If you look closely, you may see some familiar faces in here... ;)

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Smaug Samples

Everyone has clicked HERE to hear, yes?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Press Release


Featuring Original Music by Academy Award® Winner Howard Shore

With An Original Song I See Fire Performed by
GRAMMY Nominated Singer-Songwriter Ed Sheeran

2 CD Special Edition Soundtrack Also Available

(November 5, 2013 – Los Angeles, CA) – WaterTower Music today announced details of the soundtrack to “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” a production of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM), the second in a trilogy of films by Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien. The soundtrack will be released on December 10, 2013, three days before the December 13 release of the film, and will be available both digitally and as a 2 CD set. A Special Edition soundtrack, featuring twelve extended tracks, a bonus track, expanded liner notes and interactive sheet music will also be available. Fans will be able to preorder the album at both iTunes and Amazon on November 5.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Original Motion Picture Soundtrack features the music of Howard Shore, one of film music’s most respected, honored, and active composers and conductors. "I’m looking forward to introducing you to Smaug," exclaimed Shore, who previously worked with director Peter Jackson on The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and on The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Jackson added, "Howard Shore's music soars and enriches way beyond its connection to our images, a unique sound like no other. He truly has created an epic musical world of his own."

Shore’s music for The Lord of the Rings Trilogy has been performed in numerous concerts internationally. In 2003 he conducted the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in the world premiere of The Lord of the Rings Symphony in Wellington, New Zealand. Since then, the work has been performed nearly 300 times by the world’s most prestigious orchestras, and has been the subject of a book, The Music of The Lord of the Rings Films: A Comprehensive Account of Howard Shore's Scores.

Howard Shore’s music for The Lord of the Rings Trilogy stands as his most towering achievement to date, garnering three Academy Awards® for his music for those films, two for Best Original Score, and one for Best Original Song. Shore has also won numerous other honors for his film work, including four Grammys and three Golden Globe Awards, the Career Achievement for Music Composition Award from the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures, New York Chapter’s Recording Academy Honors, ASCAP’s Henry Mancini Award, the Frederick Loewe Award and the Max Steiner Award from the city of Vienna. He holds honorary doctorates from Berklee College of Music and York University, and is an Officier de l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres de la France and the recipient of the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award in Canada.

Included on the soundtrack is I See Fire, a new song created for the film by Ed Sheeran, the 22-year old British singer/songwriter and multi-platinum global phenomenon who was nominated in the prestigious “Song of the Year” category at this year’s 55th Annual Grammy Awards. Sheeran is also a two-time BRIT Award winner and recipient of the highly esteemed Ivor Novello award for best song musically and lyrically in the UK." “It was such an honor working with Peter Jackson on this song," Sheeran says. "Not only is he one of my favorite directors of my favorite films, The Hobbit was the first book I ever read as a child, so it means a lot that I get to produce music for the motion picture.”

Elaborating on the collaboration with Jackson, as well as filmmakers Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, Sheeran stated, “I was allowed complete freedom to create what I thought was fitting for the film, which is very rare, and Peter, Fran and Philippa were always on hand to give notes and pointers. The entire team down in New Zealand was out of this world. The film is amazing, I'm still geeking out that I've done a song for a Peter Jackson film set in Middle-earth!”

"Ed Sheeran is a true Tolkien fan, and also happens to be a brilliant singer-songwriter,” offered Peter Jackson. I See Fire is Ed's emotional response to the film. It's perfect."

“It is an honor to once again work with the tremendous Howard Shore, who has created the musical voice of Peter Jackson’s iconic The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings films from the beginning,” stated WaterTower Music head Jason Linn. “And we are thrilled that the stars aligned for this collaboration with Ed Sheeran and his truly inspired original song for our soundtrack. WaterTower anticipates another exciting and successful soundtrack journey with these two exceptional musicians.”

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Original Motion Picture Soundtrack will be released on December 10, 2013. The track list is as follows:

1. The Quest for Erebor
2. Wilderland
3. A Necromancer (Bonus Track) *
4. The House of Beorn **
5. Mirkwood **
6. Flies and Spiders **
7. The Woodland Realm **
8. Feast of Starlight
9. Barrels Out of Bond
10. The Forest River **
11. Bard, a Man of Lake-town **
12. The High Fells **
13. The Nature of Evil
14. Protector of the Common Folk

1. Thrice Welcome
2. Girion, Lord of Dale **
3. Durin's Folk **
4. In the Shadow of the Mountain
5. A Spell of Concealment **
6. On the Doorstep
7. The Courage of Hobbits
8. Inside Information
9. Kingsfoil
10. A Liar and a Thief
11. The Hunters **
12. Smaug **
13. My Armor Is Iron
14. I See Fire performed by Ed Sheeran
15. Beyond the Forest

* Bonus track available on Special Edition Soundtrack only
** Extended Versions of these songs Available on Special Edition Soundtrack only

From Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson comes “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” the second in a trilogy of films adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien.

The three films tell a continuous story set in Middle-earth 60 years before “The Lord of the Rings,” which Jackson and his filmmaking team brought to the big screen in the blockbuster trilogy that culminated with the Oscar®-winning “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.”

The screenplay for “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” is by Fran Walsh & Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson & Guillermo del Toro based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien. Jackson also produced the film, together with Carolynne Cunningham, Zane Weiner and Fran Walsh. The executive producers are Alan Horn, Toby Emmerich, Ken Kamins and Carolyn Blackwood, with Philippa Boyens and Eileen Moran serving as co-producers.

Under Jackson’s direction, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” was shot in 3D 48 frames-per-second and will be released in High Frame Rate 3D (HFR 3D) in select theaters, other 2D and 3D formats, and IMAX®. Production took place at Jackson’s own facilities in Miramar, Wellington, and on location around New Zealand. Post production took place at Park Road Post Production in Wellington.

New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Present a WingNut Films Production, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.” The film is a production of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM), with New Line managing production. Warner Bros. Pictures is handling worldwide theatrical distribution, with select international territories as well as all international television distribution being handled by MGM. www.thehobbit.net

WaterTower Music, the in house music label for Warner Bros., has been releasing recorded music since 2001. Distributed through InGrooves Fontana, WTM has released over 150 titles, including the film soundtracks to “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” “Gravity,” “Man of Steel,” “The Dark Knight Rises,” “Game of Thrones,” and “The Great Gatsby Jazz Recordings” among others.


For Soundtrack information contact:
Joe Kara, WaterTower Music

For Ed Sheeran information contact:
Glenn Fukushima, Atlantic Records

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