Thursday, January 31, 2008

Ongoing Discussion Thread [Feb, 2008]

I’m currently braving a rough midwinter blizzard to make a late night trip to the airport, yet I’m not inclined to make any anti-February cracks. This looks to be one exciting month, and no doubt there will be plenty to discuss. So without any further ado...

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Last month's posts are accessible here.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Luzern Konzertsaal Pics [Updated 2/08]


As the 21st Century Orchestra gears up for their upcoming John Barry concert, a few more shots of the hall have become available. Art Productions’ website now lists “Gespräch mit Howard Shore, Moderation Doug Adams,” so it must be official, right? Am I wrong to be disappointed that there isn’t a more exotic German word for “Moderation”? I don’t even get an umlaut! :)

Enjoy the pics of the Luzern Konzertsaal. What a beautiful hall!


Sabsi Fronek was kind enough to send in a few of her own pictures of the Konzertsaal. Great shots, Sabsi! These are from the LOTR Symphony performances last May, featuring soprano Anne de Renais. As always, click for a better look.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Lucerne: Almost Sold Out!

Quick update for the Lucerne-watchers: the FOTR Live performances on Saturday and Sunday February 23 ad 24 are nearly sold out. Fewer than 30 tickets are left for each night. Art Productions has responded by adding an extra concert on March 29, which can be ordered here. Back soon for answers in the Ongoing Discussion thread.

Monday, January 21, 2008

FOTR Live Comes to Munich!

WEDNESDAY, 26 MARCH 2008, 19.30 H
THURSDAY, 27 MARCH 2008, 19.30 H

Composer Howard Shore brought J.R.R. Tolkien’s literary imagination to vivid life with his Academy®- and Grammy® Award-winning score to Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Shore crafted a fully-developed musical epic that related the classic tale with moving and intricately related themes for each of Middle-earth’s cultures and charted the One Ring’s journey with an exhilarating flourish. Upon its 2001 arrival, Shore’s score, composed for large symphony orchestra, adult and boys choruses and instrumental and vocal soloists, was proclaimed an instant classic. Now the massive composition makes an unprecedented move to the concert hall. On March 26 and 27, the Munich Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Ludwig Wicki, and the voices of the Universitätschor München will present Shore’s entire 3-hour score to The Fellowship of the Ring live to the projected film.

"This is the first time that the complete score to The Fellowship of the Ring will be performed Live to Projection in Germany. I have long admired the Munich Symphony Orchestra and I am very happy that they will perform the piece with conductor Ludwig Wicki. My first score for The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring, was the beginning of my journey into the world of Tolkien and I will always hold a special fondness for the music and the experience."

Howard Shore

The music of The Lord of the Rings is counted among film music’s most complex and comprehensive works. Howard Shore’s score interconnects dozens of recurring themes to create a world as rich and thoroughly realized as the story that inspired it. This unique performance sets the score to the film, but allows the music to bear the narrative weight, creating a wholly new and dramatic live concert experience.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Film Music Critics Award Nom for ROTK: CR

The International Film Music Critics Association has announced their nominations for 2007, and Return of the King: The Complete Recordings is up for (deep breath) BEST NEW RELEASE/RE-RELEASE/RE-RECORDING OF AN EXISTING SCORE.

I hope it wins, if for no other reason than I want to see them fit that on the statue placard! See the rest of the nominees here.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Lucerne Update

If you'll cast your collective gaze to the right, you'll see that a Lucerne countdown has taken up residency in the sidebar. The February 23 and 24 Fellowship of the Ring concerts are still a way off, but as you can see, they're getting ever closer! Fortunately Art Production's terrific staff has been doing a great job keeping me on top of things. Right now, we are planning two lectures/Q&A sessions with Howard Shore and me--one on Saturday, one on Sunday, each beginning one hour before the performance.

I know Howard is very excited about all this, and you better believe I am as well.

So what are you waiting for? Click the link, hop on a train, a car or a plane, get yourself on the Road to Lucerne and come be a part of LOTR history!

Click the picture for more!

IF Magazine: ROTK: CR Makes the Grade

IF Magazine writer Dan Schweiger has posted his review of ROTK: CR, awarding it an A! Check out the review here.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

IGN: ROTK:CR 9.1/10

I know I've got a number of questions to address in comments, and I'll get to them ASAP. In the meantime, IGN has just posted another glowing review of ROTK: CR. Give it a look here, and remember Amazon US still has the set in stock... for those of you doing your Groundhog Day shopping early.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Live From New York!... [Day Two]

10:38 a.m. (EST) -- I moved the coffee away from the CDs... just in case you were getting nervous.

1:10 p.m. -- My spider sense is tingling!

2:15 p.m. -- Today's been very nonlinear, plot-wise. Not much of ROTK was scored in order. Bits were, here and there, but mostly music was composed as scenes were completed (or neared completion). I've been all over so far... Edoras, Minas Tirith, the film's opening, etc. Some very, very interesting finds, especially as the illustrate how differently the film was edited as it progressed. But it's time a lunch now! Forgot to mention, yesterday was the six-year anniversary of my first trip to these offices, as well as J.R.R. Tolkien's birthday. Nice confluence, eh?

3:05 p.m. -- The Rohirrim ride again! (This time in Phrygian!)

3:55 p.m. -- The double fiddle sessions now. Dunharrow is proving itself fertile ground.

4:29 p.m. -- The ROTK trailer recording sessions!

5:05 p.m. -- Dinner time. Back later for a final wrap-up.

12:00 a.m. -- Part of me is happy I didn’t make it to the end today. I want to come back. I want this to go on.

What a great day. The Return of the King is… begun. I don’t honestly know how much more there is to delve though. As I pointed out before, it’s not all in order. Although I can see how many CDs are left in the stack, I think some have been stockpiled elsewhere. I didn’t see the DVD sessions in with the others. So there’s really no telling just how much is left. I’m not done, and as I say, I’m glad for it. I didn’t expect to be… I’m ahead of schedule, which is nice, but frankly I’d have been disappointed if I’d made it through everything this week. As I say, I’m happy to have a reason to be back soon.

But oh, what was found. This week has been nothing short of revelatory. If nothing else at all is found at this point (and I seriously doubt that will be the case), the cup is most decidedly flowing over already. To wit:

Let me give you an idea of the basic routine involved. The basement of Shore’s offices houses the archives... several sliding file cabinets full of an ever-evolving array of technology. Reel-to-reels give way to floppy discs give way to zip discs give way to CD-Rs. Shore’s old LPs are down there. And scores. And his research materials. It’s an amazing place to be; a real sense of history emanates from it. Anyway, I’ll grab fistfuls of LOTR CDs and cart them upstairs to the listening room. Everything on these CDs exists on servers somewhere, so I’m not wearing rubber gloves and a surgical mask or anything of the sort, but I’m still doing my very, very best to take care. (And thankfully, no, I never did spill the coffee on anything!)

As I go through the CDs, I flag things I’ll want to come back to by adding a second labeling system based on my initials… DA1, DA2, etc. Many yellow post-its have given their lives toward this cause. (See pic.) Soon I’ll send my wish list to the staff, and though I’ll be in Chicago, they’ll be able to pull yellow-flagged CDs from the cabinets, determine where the original files exist on the server, and assemble the pristine takes. (Many of the CD-Rs in the basement are already giving way to CD rot, so the digital files will be essential.)

The point here is that today I hit DA91… and that doesn’t include some of the material I found directly on the servers last summer. That doesn’t mean 91 full CDs have been flagged. Often there are just 1 or 2 compositions of note on a disc… but still, 91! And we’re still going!

Some pieces give you a glimpse into the creative process… both compositionally and editorially… you really get a better sense of how these films were put together. Some of the alternate compositions simply stand as superb pieces of music… an LOTR 3.5, if you will. Some reveal how Shore composes. Some reveal how he conducts and records… but everything shows something. It’s not just a grab bag of slightly out-of tune alternate takes or anything of that sort.

91 CDs…

It’s a huge task, but it’s absolute bliss. I’d love to tell you exactly what I found today… how composition X was first envisioned, where scene Y originally belonged. But as you can see, this is all still coming together, and it’s better to hold the enthusiasm in check than to say something too early.

It’s fun to find a way to fit this all in with the book’s text, too. Certainly the Annotated Score’s “Unused” boxes will be proliferating after this trip!

But for the moment, sleep is needed. I have wake-up call in 5 hours, a decent little drive and an early flight to make. If my brain cells can align themselves tomorrow afternoon, I’ll try to address some specific questions people have posted in the comments. But in the meantime, I’m going to dream of the music I heard today. Anyone who cares to join me is more than welcome.


PS – Oh, and it should be mentioned that I think I’ve finally pieced together the history of “Frodo’s Song” this week! It’s all so much clearer now… :)

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Live From New York!... [Day One]

4:10 p.m. (EST) -- I'm writing this from the room The Departed was recorded in. I'm slightly more than half way through The Two Towers' theatrical takes. (Meaning I haven't dug into the DVD material yet.) Found some amazing stuff so far... alternate compositions, a GREAT potential Easter Egg, even one prominent vocalist performing another's song. I'm going cross-eyed from concentrating so long, but it's great! More later...

6:00 p.m. -- The Ents are attacking Isengard... listening through the sessions. Seems odd without the chorus there. Those sessions were held later.

Heh, just found a disc full of Peter Jackson's tam-tam performances!

7:45 p.m. -- Just began ROTK, which is interesting since Renée Fleming's material was all archived at the top of the pile, so I'm beginning at the end of the film. I'm going to break for the night now, but will be back online after dinner. Many, many incredible finds today. Back soon.

11:14 p.m. -- It's funny how a day of intense listening can wear a guy out! The Two Towers is officially sorted and logged at this point... and I'm in the hotel, holding my eyes open with toothpicks.

It’s fascinating to hear what took the most work on the scoring stage in 2002. The action set-piece barnburners, notey as they may be, aren’t always the ones to trip up performers. Sometimes the “simple” pieces also have the greatest intonation concerns. Those open fifths that Shore loves are very unforgiving! It’s also revealing to hear pieces without their choral components. Chorus was always recorded separately, so that means everything that was written with chorus also has a version without chorus. It’s still the same takes we’ve heard before, just dissected a bit.

But the real finds are the compositions that were eventually rewritten, I think, and TTT has several standouts. Real gems. Everyone already knows about the alternate end bit with Frodo, Sam and Gollum, but it’s just as fascinating to hear other ideas evolve in very different ways. Unlike Fellowship, where many of the prominent changes involves thematic usages, here the alternates often show a very different approach to the same material--a more savage bit of action music here, a more subdued reveal an emotional there. In a way, some of these changes are even more severe.

Seems like the first act got the most revisions on TTT… though that song at the end sure saw a lot of performers take a pass at it. Oh and remember, there was originally another song in TTT… You did get to hear it eventually, but it changed a little in the process.

I also got into synth mock-ups of some of the Rohan/Éowyn material. Very interesting, again, to hear what changed over time.

The day's biggest jaw-dropper of a revelation came courtesy of ROTK. In fact, I'm tempted to say that this particular find may well end up as everyone's favorite in the long run. It's a big one--a very big one. I'm trying not to think of it too much, if only in the selfish hope that I'll find something even more shocking tomorrow, so if I seem to be downplaying it, that's why. Of course, I did just type the words "It's a big one--a very big one," so maybe I'm not being quite as suave and aloof as I think. :)

Anyway, tomorrow morning a mug of coffee will meet my lack of sleep, a GPS will meet my pitiful lack of direction, and several drawers full of CDs will meet my insatiable appetite for this music. See you all then!


PS -- Forgot to mention, I also got to preview a few of Shore's upcoming works today. With a little more sleep I'd probably have been able to work the phrase "a fly on the wall" into a tease, but I'm not going to try right now. :)

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

TORN's Top Tolkien Stories of 2007

2008 may officially be upon us, but it's not too late to take a look back at the year past. TheOneRing.net has just posted their "Top Tolkien Stories of 2007," and they've generously listed the ROTK:CR set as number 5... chronologically speaking. Also included, The Children of Hurin and New Line's announcement regarding The Hobbit. Read the whole piece here.

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