Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hobbit Shore

Empire Magazine's 20th anniversary issue takes an early look at The Hobbit films. Included is a quick chat with Howard Shore:

The Rings composer in back in Middle-earth for The Hobbit - and much more...
Empire: You've been reworking the scores for an orchestra to play live with the movies, most recently The Fellowship Of The Ring at the Royal Albert Hall. What was the origin of that idea? 

HS: As I was editing the complete recordings I did over the last three years, I realised I'd not heard this piece played in concert. I had the idea of doing it to a projection of the film since I'd done it before, with Naked Lunch. I then assembled the score and worked with conductor Ludwig Wicki. 

Empire: It must be a tricky feat to pull off... 

HS: I know from Ludwig that the tricky part is the synchronisation. There's no audio guide for the conductor other thatn the sound of the film, and he does it with visual references with incredible precision. It's an interesting relationship; it's like a heightened reality. Music never sounds better that seen with the imagery from the film. And live music is exciting - you can feel the energy of 220 musicians playing while you're watching this incredible film. It's the best of both worlds. 

Empire: Have you started work on The Hobbit? 

HS: We've thought about making that film for a long time so it's been in our consciousness. I like to do a lot of reading and research just to mentally put myself into Middle-earth so I can create new music from a sincere part of my being. It's just such a wonderful world to be in, Middle-earth. 

Empire: So does this feel like new territory for you? 

HS: It will be new territory for Guillermo. I recently met with him in New York. He's a wonderful director. He and Peter have brought in many of the original creators of The Lord of the Rings for the Hobbit. The road goes ever on... 

Dan Jolin 

To pick up the full issue of Empire--which really is worth the read--visit their website or your local newsstand.


Krakow's official webpage begins "Welcome to Krakow, a city wrapped in legend, where time flows differently, and where every moment becomes a moment of history."

Who's to resist that Middle-earth-like enticement?

So I'm happy to announce I'll be joining the festivities when The Two Towers Live plays in Poland on May 23!

I don't know how many readers here are planning to attend, but if schedule allows, I'll attempt another Book Preview. However, my agenda is a little more packed this time. I'm also tentatively scheduled to be part of an event with composer Tan Dun, and will be stopping by RMF Classic Radio for a chat. But I'll see what I can do.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

THR: Composers Talk Film Scores

The Hollywood Reporter has a new piece up wherein Danny Elfman, Howard Shore, Terence Blanchard, Alexandre Desplat, Marc Shaiman and Jan Kaczmarek discuss some of their favorite scores. Click here to begin the four-page article.

It's an interesting collection... and it also provides Howard a fantastic avatar should he ever choose to post here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Preview Review

I'm horrifyingly late in posting this and I only hope Eorl will forgive the tardiness. Eorl, along with a host of others, was part of the London Book Preview a week or two back. He's assembled a few thoughts which have been posted here in German. Fortunately, he was also kind enough to send an English translation. Thus, I give you his preview review. Thanks, Eorl!

One Soundtrack-Book to Rule Them All

On 14 and 15 April 2009, Lord Of The Rings fans from all around the world gathered in London in order to witness the THE FELLWOSHIP OF THE RING – THE COMPLETE SCORE LIVE TO PICTURE. Doug Adams, author of the soon-to-be-released book THE MUSIC OF THE LORD OF THE RINGS FILMS granted a grand insight into his book and the RARITIES ARCHIVES. Herr-der-ringe-film.de has drawn much exclusive news from him.

When his book will be released in October of this year, Doug Adams has put a total of nearly 8 years of work into the project. It’s a job that pays well. “When I learned that Peter Jackson and his team have been working on their movie since 1997 and did not finish it before 2004, I just thought: How in the world can anyone be engaged into a project for such an amount of time AND still having the power to keep on working? – Well, now I know”, Doug remembers with a smile.

When THE TWO TOWERS were ready to hit cinemas all around the world, Doug was still working for the American movie music journal Filmscores Monthly. During an interview with Howard Shore and his following in-depth research on the music, he found his love for Shore’s scores for Middle-earth. When THE FELLWOSHIP OF THE RING – THE COMPLETE RECORDINGS were released in December of 2005, the liner notes accompanying the CD set stated that his book was due to hit the market in the following year. Yet, nothing happened – until fall 2008.

Disillusioning news made a circuit that the book had been delayed for another year. Fans were less than thrilled. Yet, Doug knew how to allay their wrath: “Thus we have opened another door for some great opportunities. Now we can tie the book’s release to another great publishment.” The book is going to be release alongside with the final Lord Of The Rings audio set THE RARITIES ARCHIVES (scroll down for more info). The package will be released in many different variants. What can fans expect after all?

The Book

As of the book’s preview of April 2009, the book contained 220 pages, packed with everything concerning Howard Shore’s Lord Of The Rings music. “We wanted to cover Howard’s music exclusively. How does it work? What is it composed of (literally)? How does it affect the movie? How did it come into being? We decided early on to solely cover the music rather than the phenomenon that was generated by its impact. However, a comment on the Symphony will be featured in the book’s epilogue.”

The book starts off with a breath-taking drawing by Tolkien-illustrator John Howe, called “Melkor’s Theme”. In his drawing, Howe depicts the music of the Ainur. It is the beginning of the Silmarillion and the beginning of Tolkien’s universe that was created of music. In his opus Howe depicts Melkor’s face for the first time ever. 

A 1.000 word long preface written by Fran Walsh follows. She states that Peter and her have used Howard’s music from earlier movies for mock-ups and previews even before Shore entered the project. Yet, they were not even aware of that music being actually written by Howard Shore. Anyway, they found that is was the style they wished for and hired Howard without further ado. Au naturel she sends him flowers as well: Howard was the best thing that has ever happened to the project. She really appreciates his work and intense dedication into the material. From the reader’s point of view it feels great to have her saying these things to our most cherished composer.

The Book is not just the Special Extended Edition of the Liner Notes and the Annotated Scores. But in addition to that it gives tons of in-depth information and coherence on the structure of the scores. “For example, The History Of The Ring theme, one of the score’s most central themes, is made of 9 notes. When playing these 9 notes all at once, you hear the theme of Ringwraiths”, Doug explains. “Howard’s music has got on incredible depth and spectrum”, he rhapsodizes. “Additionally, there are so many particulars and niceties to it that analyzing that complete chunk really fills a whole book.”

In the course of the following pages, Doug Adams covers the 80+ themes that were developed by Shore. “Honestly, I have never counted them all”, Shore admits during the London Pre-Concert-Lecture. “I write music intuitively. In addition to that I have to confess that I have never been a proper academic.” Doug has picked Shore’s score to pieces and reveals connections between the themes. He also analyzes the tracks of the Complete Recordings and related them to his preceding theme analysis. Reports on the making of the music and the recoding sessions, further info on instruments and instrumentalists must be included as well.

Hence, this book is something very special that will wow LOTR fans as well as academics and admirers of film music. “Even a lover of Wagner’s music will have quite some fun with Doug Adam’s book”, said an awestruck concert-goer. “This is something that has never been done before. It really is amazing being part of this all. We are having some big plans that hopefully will work for us in October”, Doug Adams begs, yet confidently. 

Monday, April 27, 2009

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Up to Date on Kansas City

StJoesNews.net has a piece up on the local choral groups preparing for the LOTR Symphony performances in Kansas City on May 7 and 8:

Acclaimed fantasy author J.R.R. Tolkien had quite the imagination. He dreamed up the world of Middle Earth in his classic “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, which was later brought to the screen to become modern-day classics. And if that wasn’t enough, he also made up several languages for the story’s various characters.

Read more here...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

4.14.09 Pre-concert Talk

Timdalf's transcription now in comments.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Dates Added

If you've not already noticed, additional Live to Projection dates have been added to the right sidebar... including the first ROTK Live announcements. (Note, these will not be the first ROTK Live performances. Watch for additional dates to be added before Munich.)

More news soon. RCMH website launch is imminent; book layout first draft due in from publishers early next month. Adequate sleep becoming increasingly unlikely... somehow, I don't mind.

London Pics

4/18: Several shots added.

4/19: (Some) captions added -- tap word balloon in lower left of the slide show to activate; One additional shot from JLM74 added.

4/20: 54 more pics added!

Yet more to come...

Friday, April 17, 2009

London's Fellowship

Thank you so much to everyone that attended! This was genuinely an experience like none other.

Please feel free to post reviews, comments, questions, etc. below. I'll be back with my own thoughts once I've regained the ability to think...


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Officially Unofficial Book Preview: London Edition [Details]

Here are the Officially Unofficial Book Preview: London Edition details you've been waiting for!


First Edition: Tuesday, April 14 12:30 p.m. to (approx.) 1:30 p.m.

Second Edition: Wednesday, April 15 3:30 p.m. to (approx.) 4:30 p.m.


The Queens Arms, Kensington
30 Queens Gate Mews, London, SW7

Google Map

If you are unavailable at the times listed above, I'll be around RAH following the performances each evening. Please come flag me down.

If both Tuesday and Wednesday are bad for you in their entirety, email me. I'll arrive in London Monday morning, and will probably venture out to the Queens Arms for a bleary-eyed bite or a blearier-eyed pint at some point during the day. Provided I can easily check messages from the hotel--and can stay awake long enough to be of any use--I'm happy to entertain a guest or two if they'll tolerate my jet lag.

I hope many of you will attend! I'll see if I can even summon up a rare surprise or two for you as well!

That's it for now. Happy Easter and up, up and away!


Friday, April 10, 2009

LOTR Live Conducting Explained

The article below ran in Munich last week. It explains many of the technicalities of conducting the Live to Projection scores. The original piece is in German. Beneath that is an English translation courtesy of Sabsi. Thanks, Sabsi!

Those of you joining us in London this coming week can now better appreciate the intense juggling act Maestro Wicki is performing on stage! 

A back-breaking job: Ludwick Wicki conducts The Lord of the Rings

After conducting The Two Towers, Ludwig Wicki feels as if he had fought in the battle of Helm’s Deep. Winded, exhausted. But happy, for he is victorious. It’s an almost Herculean exertion to perform The Lord of the Rings live: the movie is shown on a huge screen, but without the music, which is played by Wicki live and in color – along with about 80 members of the Munich Symphony Orchestra and 170 singers of the University Choir of Munich (performances will take place today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow at the Philharmonic Hall, a few remaining tickets are available at 93 60 93).


If you think, this has something to do with opera, you’re wrong. After all, Wicki has to deal with a merciless time corset: The music has to match the movie exactly - preferably to the centisecond. The consequence: minimal freedom, maximal concentration.

The trick: Wicki has not just the score in front of him but a laptop as well. There he sees the movie – and more: This is everything he needs and what’s confusing the rest of us: colored stripes that move from the left side of the screen to the right, white flashing punches and figures. To quote the movie: One screen to rule them all. 

There are almost no breathing pauses for the orchestra and the conductor (the choir has a bit less to do): the movie runs for about three hours, the music for about 2 hours and 40 minutes. “That means, you can barely relax. You’re permanently under high tension.” conductor Wicki illustrates. Of course, even if there’s no music you have to pay attention, otherwise you’d miss your cue. 

Incidentally, Wicki even flew to NY to program the conducting aid and adjusted the Auricle to meet his wishes. “I’ve tidied it up, so I can focus on the essentials.”

The rehearsals were “uncompromising” Wicki says smilingly. On one day from 10am to 5pm and on an other from 10am to 5.45pm. Still, if you attend a rehearsal, you can sense it: Wicki’s cheerful, democratic nature appeals to choir and orchestra. “Fortunately, the times of the old, autocratic conductor’s stand stars are over.” Wicki says.

The Lord of the Rings is pretty much the most difficult piece of its kind – more difficult than conducting one of Chaplin’s silent movies, for instance. Wicki explains the difference: “Modern Times, City Lights – they have more consistent musical arcs, coherence. But this [LotR] is all about rhythm changes and tempo changes. For three hours.”

What makes this production really expensive is the backup: The movie is shown on the big screen and on Wicki’s laptop – to ensure maximum security in case one system fails. It would be fatal indeed if the music would stop right in the middle of the battle of Helm’s Deep, wouldn’t it? So: To battle! 

[Text box beneath the pic of Maestro Wicki]
The Conductor of the Spectacle

Ludwig Wicki was born 1960 in the Canton of Lucerne and is a very versatile musician: He was a trombonist in the Lucerne Symphonic Orchestra in the ‘80s, directs a choir, and is a lecturer and musical director of the Hof Church in Lucerne. Ten years ago he founded his 21st Century Symphony Orchestra, which is specializing in film music. Last year he conducted the world premiere of The Fellowship of the Ring in Lucerne, the first part of the Rings saga, – and the following performance in Munich.

[Text next to the pic of the 21CSO]
Tickets for the Third Part:

Next year, The Return of the King will be performed three times at the philharmonic hall, the third and last part of the Rings saga. Performance-dates: March 26 (7pm), March 27 (5pm) and March 28 (5pm). As of now, tickets are bookable. Hurry up! Ticket-phone: 93 60 93.


[Blue box:] 
How do you conduct a movie?
With score and laptop.

On the picture you can see Maestro Wicki’s workplace, complete with score and Laptop. We’ll explain why the laptop is essential.

Note: There are different stripes (the picture shows a green one). They are passing the screen from left to right in about three seconds.

White circle: It flashes on the first beat of every bar. So Wicki knows whether he is in time or not. “The punch dictates the beat. I’m conducting straight on the downbeat."

Green stripe: As soon as it has passed the screen, the music starts.

Violet stripe: warning signal. After it passed the screen, the tempo and/or rhythm changes in the next bar but one. The conductor starts to count and waits for the following green stripe.

Orange stripe: marks a short pause in the music.

Red stripe: Marks the end of a movie/music scene. The Two Towers contains 28 scenes.

Numbers beneath the white dot: Left figure (here: 194): number of the bar to orientate oneself in the score. Right figure: beat that is sounding just now (here: second beat).

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Monday, April 6, 2009

London Calling

Hi everyone,

I'm still stateside, but will be flying out this coming weekend. I know a number of you are planning to be in attendance at the London FOTR Live performances. Consider this early warning: I want your pictures! I want you pictures, your videos, your scanned autographs, your reviews... everything!

There's going to be some increased web activity once I get back. I'll explain more when I can. But we're looking for fan-generated content. And there are no fans greater than yourselves!

So plan on flooding my inbox, ok? 

I'll be return later in the week with updates re: the London book preview. Some Rarities may pop their heads up at the event as well, who knows...


Friday, April 3, 2009

Ongoing Discussion Thread [April, 2009]

These updates are getting more and more difficult to do, not because there's nothing to talk about, but because I don't have nearly enough time to sort through the details! Needless to say, everything is moving forward at full speed now... the book, the Rarities, speaking engagements, Radio City and the long expected party... whew!

Hopefully you'll understand, then, when I leave this update a stub. I'll make every effort to get some more information here in the hear future.

In the meantime, stay alert... this promises to be quite a couple weeks.

Oh, and magnet fans, be sure to click here for THE Part 2... now with c-natural!
Back soon, I promise.


LOTR Symphony Roaming to Rome

Howard Shore will conduct The Lord of the Rings Symphony in Rome on June 25 and 26, 2009. Watch this spot for additional details!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Press Release: RAH Pre-concert Discussions

Free Pre-concert Discussions with Howard Shore and Doug Adams
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Royal Albert Hall
Tuesday, April 14 & Wednesday, April 15
6:15 to 6:45 p.m.

The producers of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring - Live to Projection are pleased to announce that two free Pre-concert Discussions will precede the London premieres of this epic work.

Composer Howard Shore and Doug Adams (author of the upcoming book The Music of the Lord of the Rings Films) will discuss Shore’s work on The Lord of the Rings, in an engaging look at the project’s history and its myriad of compositional details.

This free event is open to all ticket holders for that evening’s performance. The Pre-concert Discussions will be held in Royal Albert Hall’s main auditorium each evening from 6:15 to 6:45 p.m., before the 7:30 p.m. performance.

Howard Shore will also be available to greet fans at a CD signing after the performance.

The Royal Albert Hall performances bring together The Lord of the Rings’ original performers (London Philharmonic, London Voices and the London Oratory School Schola boys chorus) to perform Howard Shore’s grand score. Now come hear how it all started in a discussion with the composer, himself!

United States-based Rings fans, don’t be left out! You will be able to catch Howard Shore and Doug Adams in conversation before The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring - Live to Projection at New York City’s famed Radio City Music Hall on October 9 and 10, 2009!

Get your tickets at www.radiocity.com
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