Wednesday, September 24, 2008

LOTR Symphony in St. Louis: Review

Ryan76 sends in his wonderful review of the St. Louis performance of the LOTR Symphony:

I haven't had a chance to see the LotR Symphony, I live in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, and in 2004, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra performed the symphony on the one weekend that I absolutely could not attend. Much stress, many tears, huge amounts of frustration. I had convinced myself that at some point the symphony would return to Dallas, or even better, that the Ft. Worth Symphony would decide to do it a the grand Bass Hall in downtown FTW. Alas, nearly four years later...no such luck. I was beginnig to think that I had missed my one opportunity and that I would somehow have to find a way to live with the notion that i would not get to see it (okay, I being a little dramatic). The scheduling of the Symphony in STL, the release of Kaitlyn Lusk's version of Into the West, and the opportunity to get a very good-deal on a flight and hotel suddenly changed my fate. So I decided that I would just "go for it" and travel to the "gateway to the west" (somewhat appropriate don't you think?), and finally see The Lord of the Rings Symphony.

The performance was held at Powell Symphony Hall on the 19th and the 20th. I purchased a box seat for the Saturday performance. Powell Symphony Hall was built in the 20s and has been very well-preserved. I could be wrong, but it didn't seem to have had any major renevations since the 60s. I felt like I was in an old church, or more accurately (or strangley I should say), it reminded of the theater where The Muppet Show took place, at least that's what I thought of as I climbed the grand staircase. In the lobby, there were a few props displayed (very few). Full size reproductions of Lurtz and a Ringwraith, as well as Strider's sword, Eowyn's sword, Gimli's axe and Sting. As I stated before, I had a box seat taht was somewhat to the right of center stage. It was an excellent seat, but I din't really see how any seat could be bad in that venue. The box held 18 seats and I was in the back left corner, the area was very spacious I thought.

The Powell Symphony Hall holds around 2,600 people, but once the show started, I might as well have been the only person there. iwas in a faraway place during the duration of the Symphony...2 and a half hours of complete bliss. The sound was amazing, I could hear everything so well, and so clear. I could see everything very well, and as always, I was so fascinated and impressed by the intense playing of the strings section...the equivalent of "shredding" on the violin. Now I know that most evryone that keeps up with this site has experienced the Symphony live and/or has seen the Creating the lotR Symphony DVD, so I don't need to go into the exact details of what actually made up the six movements. I myself have watched that DVD several times and in my opinion it doesn't do the actual live experience justice. It was a powerful, moving, emotional experience for me. from the first notes of The Prophecy...I got teary-eyed, but when the loan Irish whistle ushered in Concerning Hobbits, the tears were rolling down my cheeks. It was such a great feeling, and it conitnued throughout the enitre performance. The Ring Goes South, The Bridge of Khazad-dum, The Breaking of the Fellowship were especially powerful for me during the first two movements, but every note seemed to resonate through me, forcing an emotional reaction. If anybody near me was paying attention, they probably thought I was a little nuts, but I didn't care at all, like I said, I was in a different place. I was also very impressed by the vocal performances during the performance. They were all executed flawlessly, and the two boy soprano's were simply amazing.

I was suprised that after the intermission, Kaitlyn lusk accompanied conducter Ludwig Wicki on stage at the beginning of movements 3-6. i guess I assumed that she would be only performing the two "songs", but she actually performed all of the the vocal parts for the pieces from the Two Towers and Return of the King...and her vocals were breathtaking! Forth Eorlingas, The White Tree and the enitre 6th movement once again brought me to tears...but during Kaitlyn's performance of Into the West, I experinced the most moving and emotional sensation of the evening. I know i've already used the adjective...but it was powerful.

I found the art of Alan Lee and John Howe projected on a huge screen behind the chorus to be very well done and an excellent companion to the orchestra. never too distracting. Conducter Ludwig Wicki was energetic and fascinating to watch. It should be noted that not one word was said during the Symphony. Not at the beginnig, not between any of the movements, not at the end. Wicki was all business.

It was quite frankly the greatest concert experience of my life. This music is so incredibly important to me (as I know it is to all who contribute to this site) and to hear and see it performed live was something I will never forget. Saturday, September 20th was one of the happiest days of my life. A dream came true, and I find it hard to put the emotions I felt into words. I only hope that others have had or will have similar experiences. 

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