I love the Chicago Symphony. It’s not only my “home symphony,” it’s one of the best in the world. I’ve watched this ensemble my whole life, and have performed with many of the players over the years. I love the heritage and the well-honed, sharp-toothed sound they bring to everything they play. When it was announced that Fellowship would play at Ravinia, I knew immediately that Ludwig Wicki would evince a completely unique sound from the orchestra. Howard Shore’s music has such a particular sense of voicing. His Rings music is really built on intersecting blocks of sound. In many ways, that’s the key to the ancient/modern sound. The blocks themselves have a Germanic sense of weight and gravity, but the interaction has a sort of smooth, delicate French/Italian flavor. It’s the “orchestration by ranges” approach we discus in the book. The CSO is such a lucid orchestra, and Wicki knew exactly how to use that clarity in service of Shore’s precise, contained sound. It’s was a remarkable pairing!
Ravinia presents the best that festival atmospheres offer. A concert like this brings out families, dates, wild-haired hippies, buttoned-down businessmen. It’s quite a diverse sea of humanity! Nearly 20,000 people attended over the course of the two performances. Our supply of books sold out approximately 10 minutes into the second night, so I spent the rest of the evening signing programs, ticket stubs, wine bottles, and arms! I’m glad the people that weren’t able to get their hands on a copy of the book were good natured about it, and I hope they’ll head off to Amazon ASAP!
I was actually shocked at how many people lined up for the book … including many people from the blog and from Twitter who came to say “hello!” The Tolkien gang from last spring’s Wheaton lectures was there as well, but perhaps the biggest surprise of the evening was the appearance of my translator from Poland in 2009. He was in the States for a trip to New York, but had seen the concert in Chicago advertised and decided to reroute his schedule. If that’s not a testament to the power of this music, I don’t know what is.
September should be a good month around these parts. I'll be back with a couple of announcements later down the line, and of course, you all know about Shore's Lord of the Rings Symphony being released on September 13 (available right HERE on Amazon). And if you'd like to hear the performance a few days early, Bavarian Radio Klassik will be broadcasting the entire work on Sunday, September 4 at 4:00 (local German time). Details and links will be located on the BR-KLASSIK home page.
Before I wrap this post up, please enjoy a couple of video from the Chicago Fellowship performance. Many thanks to Guillaume for sending these in!
See you soon for more announcements!