Monday, December 31, 2012

... And Happy New Year!

Wishing you all a safe and joyous start to 2013!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas! ...

Warmest wishes to all who gather here!

Sunday, December 16, 2012


Hi everyone,

I promised everyone that I would talk a little more Hobbit after the film was in theaters. It's now out in the world breaking records and setting tongues wagging both here and elsewhere, so maybe it's a good time to chime in. In dramatic fashion, then, let's begin back in 2001 ...

In the first act of Fellowship Gandalf and Bilbo sit on a grassy hill in the Shire, enjoying a bit of pipe-weed. After the whistle plays a lovely bit of the Shire theme, violins ascend and, over a C-major chord, resolve a mild Lydian dissonance: F#-G -- and presto, we're off to Bilbo's birthday party.

In the first Hobbit film we also see Bilbo with his pipe, and once again he blows a smoke ring that drifts across the screen. This time however, the ring holds in the center of the shot right. Now the orchestra is in D-major and the whistle rises along with the strings on the same figure we heard in Fellowship: D-G-B; E-A-C#-E; C#-E ... and as the title come up the same mild Lydian dissonance emerges: G#-A.

The dissonance in The Hobbit is more pronounced than it was in Fellowship. It's in a higher key; it begins with a subito piano; the resolution is delayed by a few extra beats. But most importantly, it means something different this time. Bilbo's prophetic line ("... and nothing unexpected ever happened") coupled with the ring imagery has redefined the G#-A. In Fellowship it was a bucolic cadence. In The Hobbit, it's an unmistakable movement from the sharp fourth of the chord to the fifth. It is a veiled reference to The History of the Ring theme.

That's the funny thing with film music -- there's always a film to consider. In this case, the film allowed Howard Shore to slightly reshape a musical phrase, yet impart something completely different. Lydian harmonies are traditionally used to represent something wondrous and almost supernaturally beautiful. It's in E.T.'s theme. It's the Christ theme from Ben-Hur. Heck, Beethoven used it in his fifteenth string quartet, in a movement he began with the words: "Heiliger Dankgesang eines Genesenen an die Gottheit, in der lydischen Tonart" ("A Convalescent's Holy Song of Thanksgiving to the Divinity"). But here in The Hobbit, it's chilling. It's a harbinger -- a reminder that this "simple" little story is headed down a dark path. Shore uses a subtle combination of modulation, orchestration, phrasing, and imagery to redefine a musical phrase that is over a decade old. Does that now mean that we go back to Fellowship and hear that phrase differently? No, the F#-G in Fellowship still means the same thing it always did -- but then that's part of the whole game, too. It that weren't such a pure, lovely phrase, then the chill it acquires in The Hobbit wouldn't be quite as effective.

And of course, there's the whole issue of the timeline. Technically, the Hobbit's use of this theme would occur just slightly before Fellowship's, right? This is, of course, speaking strictly as part of Tolkien's timeline of events. But as a piece of storytelling, where does it fit? If you imagine a massive six-score listening marathon a few years from now (wow!), what order do you approach it in? The Hobbit is sort of nestled inside Fellowship -- it's neither strictly before or after. I think that's a brilliant choice because it doesn't bind the creators to either working backward or forward. Rather, The Hobbit exists in its own little narrative bubble.

This requires some nonlinear thinking from listeners because musical material is going to be developed in a very different way. Sometimes familiar themes and phrases are treated as call-backs, sometimes as introductions. And sometimes they mean something new. The Hobbit is just as narratively/motivically driven as Rings was, but the narrator is not meant to be quite so invisible this time out. Sometimes he simply tells the tale, sometimes he tips his hat in acknowledgement because he knows that we understand the deeper meaning of something. Sound familiar? This was Tolkien's own approach to writing The Hobbit. His narrator didn't fall back on an understanding on The Lord of the Rings, of course; it didn't yet exist. But he could, at times, address the reader directly and give them credit for comprehending things beyond the borders of the page. When Shore quotes A Hobbit's Understanding in this new score, part of this theme speaks directly to the moment, while another part of it speaks to a listening audience that understands how this resonants against what we have already heard.

That said, there are a couple of themes in The Hobbit: AUJ that have people scratching their heads. Well ok, some people are scratching their heads, some are crying bloody murder and calling for the reinstatement of the Spanish Inquisition. This puts me in a tricky spot because I inevitably feel compelled to explain these things, however I'm not always going to be allowed to tell you everything right away. I started my public work on The Lord of the Rings with the Complete Recordings. The films were out and people had heard most of the music in one form or another. It was a nice, easy way for me to break into all this because I could say anything I wanted to. I couldn't really give anything away. Sure, I held on to a few surprises, but nothing heavy. This time, I'm involved while the movies and scores are being created. There were a good number of thematic connections I couldn't even describe in the liner notes, because those connections would give away plot elements from the next two pictures. I received a lot of notes from the studio -- and you know what, they were very intelligent notes! Edits and rewrites are a part of every creative endeavor; they always have been, they always will be. I owe the people at the studio a huge debt because they trusted me to make contemplative music theory a part of a mass-marketed mega-release. That took a lot of faith! The Complete Recordings were (and are) a huge hit, but they appeal to a very specific niche market. The Hobbit: AUJ is more on the level of a pop album in terms of its wide appeal. I still can't believe they let me open up a discussion on modes, tonalities, clusters, music examples, etc. I even worked two classical music in-jokes/references into the liners ... I'm not sure if anyone has found them yet. One's pretty obvious.

Suffice it to say, the score in the film is, by and large, exactly what Shore put on the page. For the most part, this is the score I heard when I first watched/heard the film. I loved it then, and I love it now. To me, it's the perfect return to Middle-earth, every bit as carefully shaped and considered as our beloved Rings scores. I know people discovered some alternate compositions en route, but take it from someone who has dedicated huge amounts of time and energy into researching alternate music from Middle-earth: this is all just part of the process. And those 'head-scratcher' moments that I've already received several hundred emails about? Yep, they're considered, too. And they mean things.  Some of those things I can't talk about yet ... meaning I'm still not allowed! Anyway, I'm extremely glad that we have some puzzling going on around here! We've been so well-informed for the past few years, it's actually pretty invigorating to have to stumble around a bit.

That said, as some of you have noticed, I have asked someone to step in and moderate comments. It is always ok to question things. However, accusations, demands, assumptions, and expressions of entitlement can get pretty unattractive. I've said before that I consider my work on these projects to essentially be a musical performance. I'm not a writer, I'm a musician. I just happen to be performing on a laptop, but it's still a form of musical expression as far as I'm concerned. I need to come at that process from a positive place, so I've asked someone to temporarily keep house so that shouting doesn't crowd out my headspace. I know, what a diva, huh? :) This will not be a permanent change. Let's just all take a deep breath, ok? Spoilers for The Hobbit: AUJ are now officially permitted. Unpleasantness still isn't.

Here, by way of making it up to you, a little bit of a hint. The music of Azog has caused something of a stir this weekend. Why does his last scene in the film include music we've previously associated with Mordor? I can't fully answer that question, but I can lead you a bit: Azog's primary theme is a descending pair of thirds (G-Eb-F-D) with a chromatic snap at the end (Eb-D-Db). Musically, Azog has a connection to Mordor's musical world from his first appearance on. His final scene is very much in line with this approach. Why this consistent connection? We shall see ...

And you thought I was kidding when I said we had a long journey ahead of us!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in the States, and to those celebrating abroad.

I thought a little holiday treat was in order, so please enjoy Howard Shore discussing The Hobbit with Classic FM.

Back soon,


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Sounds Official

Hi everyone,

Ok, here's the deal: The Hobbit's official website currently has some music playing in the background; some music that may be of great interest to blog readers. Or it may not, I'm not going to say!

If you would like to talk about that music, please feel absolutely free to do so. I won't be chiming in at this time, but I might somewhere down the line. However, links to anything other than The Hobbit's official website will be deleted. This includes, but is not limited to, YouTube, SoundCloud, or extraction instructions. These links will deleted and repeat offenders risk being banned.

This is probably all an overreaction on my part. In fact, I'm almost sure it is! But I'm still not sure what gets me into hot water and what doesn't, so I'm playing  it safe.

So, this is my best solution. Stop by the official site, turn your ears on, and come back here and chat. Speculate, analyze, identify, but don't link beyond the official site. And don't mind me grinning in the corner holding my peace. I'll pipe up later ... :)

Thanks, you guys are the best!


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Geek League Top 10

GeekLeagueofAmerica.com has placed The Music of the Lord of the Rings Films on their "Ten Great Books About Movies" list, which is a very fine honor indeed!

I'm telling you, folks, you will want to read this book very closely before Hobbit time! It pays to invest oneself in the details ...

But enough of my hackneyed sales pitch. Big thanks to the Geek League. Their Music of LOTR entry is below;  you can read their full list right HERE.

It saddened me not to include a Lord of the Rings book on my initial draft of this list. There is simply no book available that covers LOTR’s extensive production from beginning to end in a fashion that I recommend. The Extended Edition Blu-ray/DVD collections and Costa Botes’ fly-on-the-wall documentaries really do the best job covering all of it. I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t include Doug Adams’ (no, not that Doug Adams) mind-blowingly extensive account of Howard Shore’s scores of the films. Loaded with illustrations from Alan Lee and John Howe, this book covers all three films and the musical themes developed therein.  
Adams is a musicologist, so this isn’t light reading. It talks about what goes into scoring these films, both from extensive interviews with Howard Shore as well as musical theory, and requires a little music acumen to totally comprehend the finer points of the text. It also comes with an exclusive rarities CD that features original concept recordings and versions of themes that didn’t make it to the big screen. Doug Adams is working on a new book for The Hobbit and like Rinzler’s ROTJ book, my pre-order is ready to go.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Soundtrack Album Coming December 11


 Featuring Original Music by Academy Award™ Winner Howard Shore With An Original Song Performed by Neil Finn 
 2-CD Special Edition Soundtrack Also Available 

WaterTower Music has announced the release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Original Motion Picture Soundtrack at all retailers on December 11th. The soundtrack will be available both digitally and as a 2-CD set. A Special Edition of the soundtrack featuring six exclusive bonus tracks, seven extended score cues, and deluxe liner notes will also be available December 11. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey features original score by Academy Award® winner Howard Shore recorded at famed Abbey Road studios by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Additionally it includes an original song entitled "Song of the Lonely Mountain," written and performed by Neil Finn (Crowded House). The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first of a trilogy of films from Oscar-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings Trilogy), will be released in the U.S. on December 14, 2012.

Shore’s music for The Lord of the Rings Trilogy has been performed in concerts throughout the world. In 2003, Shore 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 had over 140 performances by the world’s most prestigious orchestras, and has even been the subject of a book, The Music of The Lord of the Rings Films.

"I have looked forward to returning to the imaginative world of Middle-earth for quite a while," says Shore. "I read all of the books by Tolkien, including The Hobbit, when I was in my twenties, and his deep love of nature and all things green resonates deeply with me."

"It’s a thrill for us to work with Howard Shore on The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey soundtrack" stated WaterTower Music head Jason Linn, "His reputation and body of work have long inspired us, and we look forward to another successful partnership as we embark on the next chapter of our journey together."

One of today’s most respected, honored, and active composers and music conductors, Howard Shore previously worked with director Peter Jackson on The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, which stands as his most towering achievement to date. He won 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 Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Original Motion Picture Soundtrack on WaterTower Music in the United States and Decca Records outside the United States. It will be available on December 11, 2012. The track listings for the 2-CD Standard and 2-CD Deluxe versions are as follows:


 DISC 1:
 My Dear Frodo
Old Friends (Extended Version)
 An Unexpected Party (Extended Version)
Blunt the Knives performed by The Dwarf Cast
Axe or Sword?
Misty Mountains performed by Richard Armitage and The Dwarf Cast
The Adventure Begins
The World is Ahead
An Ancient Enemy
Radagast the Brown (Extended Version)
The Trollshaws
Roast Mutton (Extended Version)
A Troll-hoard
The Hill of Sorcery

The Hidden Valley
Moon Runes (Extended Version)
The Defiler
The White Council (Extended Version)
Over Hill
A Thunder Battle
Under Hill
Riddles in the Dark
Brass Buttons
Out of the Frying-Pan
A Good Omen
Song of the Lonely Mountain (Extended Version) performed by Neil Finn
Dreaming of Bag End

A Very Respectable Hobbit
The Dwarf Lords
The Edge of the Wild

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Dad Mode

Hi folks,

A brief -- and admittedly preemptive -- comment regarding certain lines of questioning. Please do not use this blog to discuss anything that is not commercially available. We're going to have a ton to discuss later this year, but we will wait until materials are distributed through legitimate commercial channels. Discussion of any materials other than these -- which includes but is not limited to press kits, awards promos, scoops from your crazy Uncle Frank who played the nose flute solo in the score's finale, etc. -- is strictly prohibited.

We're all heading back to Middle-earth in just a few short weeks/months. Let's arrive together, yes?

Now I gotta get back to work ... :)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Celebrate Howard Shore's Birthday with the LOTR Symphony

Thursday is the sixty-sixth birthday of composer Howard Shore. Classic FM will be celebrating with an 8 pm airing of The Lord of the Rings Symphony. Please see the note below from Kyle Macdonald, Classic FM's Community Manager.

And happy birthday!


At Classic FM we're doing as much as we can to champion great movie soundtracks. Tomorrow at 8pm we'll play Howard Shore's immensely popular Lord of the Rings Symphony, in full.

Thursday is the composer’s 66th birthday and his LOTR score has also recently been voted by our listeners as their number one Soundtrack, in our Movie Music Top 100.

It's an astonishing piece and we'll broadcast it in its entirety, without interruption. Shore's Symphony is based on themes from the phenomenally-successful Lord of the Rings trilogy.

HERE is a link to our programme on Thursday.

We're also celebrating with a gallery of Howard Shore and his movie soundtracks.

We'd be delighted if you would share this with your fans and followers.

Best regards,

Kyle Macdonald Community Manager

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Mabel Faletolu

Our good friend Earl at TheOneRing.net is running at interview with Mabel Faletolu today. You'll recognize her name -- and, more importantly, her voice -- from Gandalf's fall in The Fellowship of the Ring.


It’s been said that when Peter Jackson set out to work with Howard Shore on the music for The Lord of the Rings, he desired to have a cast of vocalists for the songs that would be sung during significant events in the films. How did you come about to be a featured vocalist on The Fellowship of the Ring?


I was studying at the National Academy of Singing and Dramatic Art in Christchurch, New Zealand. I got a call from a friend, Igelese Ete, who was the choir director for the male choir featured on the same album. He said that they were looking for a soprano with the right amount of richness in the voice for this particular part. When all was approved then they arranged my flights and it was all go. No audition. Just got the job. Howard Shore had a lot of faith in Igelese so I had better get it RIGHT!! ARrrGH!!

Read Earl's full article HERE.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Monday, August 20, 2012


In the summer of 2011, the producers of The Hobbit began releasing still images from the film. One of the first -- maybe it was the very first, I'm not sure -- featured Bilbo Baggins carefully reviewing his contract with the Dwarves. I remember the day well because that afternoon I also received a contract. Mine, if somewhat less perilous, also offered a grand adventure full of new challenges and an unparalleled chance for self-discovery. It was my contract for a book on Howard Shore's music to The Hobbit.

I read the contract over during the day, and by that evening had set it back on the shelf. I was beyond excited, but I also knew to be patient. After all, the creation of The Music of the Lord of the Rings Films was a long, long journey. It was on May 16, 2001 that I originally received the call to do "something"with Howard Shore's music for these stories. And it was in October 2010 that the book was finally released. The Hobbit contract loomed large, but as of summer 2011, there was not yet any Hobbit music to speak of. Howard Shore was still very much in the world of Hugo -- and, frankly, even I hopped into that world for a short but memorable stay. So my Hobbit contract sat still, ready to go, but on hold.

The funny thing about adventures, though, is that you're rarely sure when they'll begin or when they'll end. Shortly after Martin Scorcese's charming film -- and Shore's brilliant score -- was in theaters, a new trailer for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey appeared featuring new music by Howard Shore. The composer's work on The Hobbit had quietly overlapped Hugo. Sure it was just a trailer, but it ensured that the new music for Middle-earth would be firmly lodged in our ears for months to come. I honestly cannot remember the last time a piece of music from a trailer had so many YouTube covers a year before the film's release.

As 2012 rolled in, Shore made his official return to Tolkien's world. He was now a full-time resident, though he made committed excursions to oversee his new Cello Concerto and the releases of his vibrant scores to Cosmopolis and S.U.N. He and I would chat from time-to-time, and I would record the important details in the back of my mind, but I was also overlapping projects a bit. By this time, I had begun work on a second book that followed up both on three Hugo articles I penned for Shore's official site and on a piece I wrote for the Seattle Opera. And while this new book occupied much of my creative time, there was also a wedding to tend to ...

By June of 2012, I was 200-something pages into writing book two when real-life dictated a pause. It was time to sign a wedding license. I tend to get a little too focused when writing, and temporarily abandon such niceties as eating and sleeping, so it's good to have someone pull me away from the desk now and then. I don't mind the intensity, but I'm sure it's better for me to take breaks. However, no sooner was the wedding contract signed than I received an email: it was time to return that Hobbit contract from a year ago. I jotted down another sloppy signature and signed my second contract of the day.

About two weeks ago that contract returned to me in the mail. It was now countersigned, binding, and official.

This post is going online on Monday, August 20, 2012. Why? Because today marks the official start of The Hobbit recording sessions in London. Today the musical world of Middle-earth begins expanding once again. Today, you can no longer say that you know every note of Shore's music for Tolkien's world. In fact, you only know about half of it. (This is a ballpark figure; I have no idea how long the three Hobbit films will be!) Today the subject of The Music of the Hobbit Films exists not just in concept, but in reality. Today a new journey begins ...

I'm going to keep working intently on book number two for the time being, but I expect to be fully drawn into Middle-earth during the course of the next month. In fact, I expect to embark upon a rather less-metaphorical journey in just another few weeks. I'll keep you posted. From there, it's back to the constantly moving world of plane tickets, review deadlines, and stacks and stacks of score pages. I believe the book I'm currently writing will hit shelves before the book on the Hobbit scores does. However, I tend to think that you'll see some form of my Hobbit work before either book.

So this is it, the official start to my work on The Music of the Hobbit Films. It's now a project being pursued in earnest. I've been promising for a long time that this site would pick up in the late summer of 2012, and here we are! Of course, I'm not going to be a source of freely flowing news -- official announcements will still be made via press releases, etc. -- but I'm very much looking forward to the subtle hinting and suggesting of days of old. Anyway, it's a long process, and you wouldn't want me to give everything away all at once, would you?

I don't know exactly where this new road ends, but somehow I feel perfectly content to have found its beginning. But that's Tolkien for you: "You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to."

Today, we step onto the road ...

Saturday, August 11, 2012


See you tomorrow morning to talk a bit about the future!
Mikko takes us to two.
Earl's turn.
Like Peleowyn says.
Five, of course.
Six days.
One week.
Eight days.
Nine days.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012


The picture below showed up on Twitter the other day, but I didn't realize until just now that it was something I'd not actually seen before. Despite the fact that The Music of the Lord of the Rings Films has been circulating for almost two years now, I've never actually held a second printing in my hands. You'll notice that picture shows a golden ribbon bookmark protruding past the end of the book. This is actually a part of the book--something we were only able to include on the second printing. We thought we'd throw it in just to distinguish the two runs. (There's also a small change in the technical text identifying the second printing.) I approved the design change, but hadn't actually seen it until now. Quite fetching, if I do say so!

By the way, Amazon continues to struggle to keep the book in stock. I think The Hobbit has increased the visibility quite a bit. If you've been holding off, don't hold off forever! We're not going to run dry any time soon, but available is occasionally an issue.

Back soon,


Saturday, July 28, 2012


An off-topic post, but a worthy cause.

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Monday, July 23, 2012

Hobbit Production Diary #8

Next stop, post production ... and you know what that means!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Well, Super ...

I had a bit of a go at the new Superman trailer on Twitter this weekend, but since genuine questions have arisen, I thought I'd address them here.

First, yes, this is indeed the music from Gandalf's fall in Fellowship -- you're not hearing things. Man of Steel, like The Lord of the Rings, is a Warner Brothers production (New Line is a subsidiary of WB) so they're well within their rights to reuse the music as far as I'm aware.

Second, it is unlikely in the extreme that this music will actually show up in the final film. Hans Zimmer is scoring Man of Steel, and he and his team tend to bring a strong personality to projects. Finalized films do occasionally work in borrowed compositions, but this is usually because the director used it in the temp and fell in love with it. Die Hard did this. The Star Wars prequels. Three Kings used an odd bit of Thomas Newman's Unstrung Heroes. There are some more recent examples I'm forgetting. But the director of Man of Steel recently announced that they will not be using the John Williams theme from the 70s in his film, so they're obviously trying to give it a new stamp. 

Third, it's actually common practice to use preexisting music in teaser trailers. Generally speaking, the original music for a new film isn't ready until shortly before the film's release. There's no new Superman music in the Superman trailer because that music doesn't exist yet. It is very rare to have original, film-specific music in a trailer. Obviously, The Hobbit uses original music. So did The Return of the King a few years back. Tintin's trailer used some of the original score last year, but that was because Williams scored the rough animation and held recording sessions at least year in advance of the film's release. (Additional sessions were held once the animation was polished.) But let us remember that even The Two Towers' trailer used music from Requiem for a Dream, not music by Howard Shore, so The Lord of the Rings has been on both sides of this equation. (And since people still ask, no, Shore had nothing to do with the Requiem music.)

So why is this causing such a stir? Generally when a trailer repurposes a piece of film music, they chose something with a low profile -- something accessible, but not strongly associated with a particular narrative. The end of James Horner's Aliens showed up in action trailers for years.  To this day, Randy Edleman's themes from Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story and Dragonheart are probably better known for their many trailer appearances than for their places in the original films. Gandalf's fall, however, is an iconic moment in a classic score from a famous film. Does it work here? Sure -- but you could put Shore's beautiful music behind a video of me eating breakfast and it would still be inspirational. It's just that powerful. Is it distracting in Man of Steel? Yes, probably. At least for those of use who have lived so closely with the music. But I bet it will sell a lot of tickets at the same time.

Finally, as a result of my recent marriage, I am now related to the actor playing the bad guy in the new Superman movie -- so I'm keeping a safe distance from the rest of this brouhaha. ;)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Upcoming LOTR Performances in Ireland and Shanghai

A pair of upcoming LOTR performances made the news today. The Two Towers will play in Ireland on Sunday, October 28, 2012 when the RTÉ Concert Orchestra presents a Live to Projection concert in the O2. Details and tickets are HERE.

But before that, the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, Shanghai Opera Chorus and Shanghai Youth Choir will present Howard Shore's LOTR Symphony on Sunday, July 29, 2012. Details and tickets for that performance are right HERE.

Sounds like a pair of pleasant Sundays!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Thank You!

I will return to posting, emailing, tweeting, etc. in the next few days, but wanted to say a heartfelt "thank you" to everyone who sent good thoughts, well-wishes, and congratulations over the weekend. As usual, I'm overwhelmed by your kindness and generosity!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Soul of the Ultimate Nation


JULY 10, 2012

Music By Academy Award® Winner Howard Shore
Collector’s Edition Vol. 2

(June 26, 2012—New York, NY) Howe Records is pleased to announce the release of the Soul of the Ultimate Nation (SUN) Collectors Edition Vol. 2 available in stores and digitally on July 10, 2012.

The epic online fantasy game Soul of the Ultimate Nation (SUN) has been enjoyed by fans around the world, but the soundtrack had only been released in parts of Asia. Now for the first time, as the second in a Collector's Edition series of the Composer's work, Howard Shore's original score for SUN is available to a worldwide audience.

During the time that Shore was writing the score for SUN he was at the Kremlin in Moscow conducting performances of The Lord of the Rings Symphony with the National Philharmonic of Russia and Victor Popov’s Academy of Choral Arts. Further concert engagements took him to Tokyo with these ensembles.

"While in Japan, I decided I wanted to write the piece specifically for this orchestra and chorus," said Shore. "I wanted the chorus to sing in ancient Korean as a way to express the world of SUN. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to bring together the western and eastern concepts at play. The pieces were composed as tone poems to express the different characters, cultures and the world of this wonderfully detailed game."

Howard Shore is among today’s most respected, honored, and active composers and conductors. His work with Peter Jackson on The Lord of the Rings trilogy stands as his most towering achievement to date, earning him three Oscars® and four Grammy® awards. Since 2003 Shore’s music from the beloved trilogy has been constantly performed in concert halls around the world.

Shore’s on-going collaboration with filmmaker David Cronenberg has spawned scores for 14 films, including The Fly, Dead Ringers, Crash, Naked Lunch, Eastern Promises, A Dangerous Method and Cosmopolis. Shore continues to distinguish himself with a wide range of projects, from Martin Scorsese’s The Departed, The Aviator, and Gangs of New York, to Ed Wood, The Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia, and Mrs. Doubtfire. He is currently working on his second opera, and is returning to Middle-earth with J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit.

Howe Records recently released Howard Shore’s Academy Award® nominated score for Hugo, and a live recording of The Lord of the Rings Symphony, which spent many weeks on Billboard’s classical album charts. On July 10th, Howe Records will also release the Soundtrack for David Cronenberg’s upcoming drama Cosmopolis.

Soul of the Ultimate Nation, Collectors Edition Vol. 2 from Howe Records will be available in stores and digitally on July 10, 2012.



For more information: cinemediapromo@yahoo.com, or on Twitter @cinemediapromo

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Fellowship of the Ring: Live July 5 - 7 in Ottawa, CA

The Ottawa Citizen is running a piece today regarding the upcoming National Arts Centre Orchestra performances of The Fellowship of the Ring. Thought these tidbits might be of interest:

[Shore] is not giving away much about his approach to the score for The Hobbit except to say, “If you like the scores to the other films, you’ll like the way I’m approaching The Hobbit.” 
He is into the crunch right now on The Hobbit with recording set to begin in August. That pressure prevents him from being in Ottawa for the performance. 
Asked whether some of the music for The Hobbit will hint at the Lord of the Rings, he’s coy. 
“I have crafty little ways of dropping bits here and there. There are characters that are in both, Bilbo, Gandalf, Galadriel and Elrond. It’s so connected to The Lord of the Rings.”

Read the full piece HERE.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Rings and Contracts

Hi folks,

Apologies for being a bit of a ghost around here lately. I did indeed find my way out of the woods last week -- though met this rather ominous dragon-like branch in the process! A sign perhaps?

Weather permitting, I try to walk a few miles each day, just to keep my head clear. It's my chance to catch up on music, listen to a few books or poems, and attempt to keep my complexion at least somewhat ruddier than this blog's color scheme. (In the bleak midwinter my skin tone roughly matches my black-and-white headshot to the right.) But this was a different kind of walk. This out-of-town trip was planned as a preamble to next week's festivities. One week from this Saturday, on July 7 -- that's 7/7, presumably the luckiest day of the year! -- Jill and I will be married. I don't go into my personal life too much on the blog, but since a number of you have been so kind as to ask, I thought I'd let you all know.

Last week we stopped by the Daly Center in downtown Chicago to sign our wedding license. It was a profoundly meaningful experience for us, though hardly romantic. The clerks are didn't seem overly concerned whether or not we understood the lifelong commitment this all entails (we do), but they did make absolutely certain that we weren't related to one another (we aren't!)

Little did I realize that the trip downtown would be the first in a number of contracts I'd sign or negotiate or otherwise discuss in the following days. One of those contracts had been sitting on my desk since June of 2011. It wasn't neglected due to controversial content or untoward haggling, it was simply tied into a chain of events that required a good deal of patience. This morning, June 27, 2012, that contract was placed in the mail. I can't say much about it just yet, but suffice it to say, I have a pretty good sense how this fellow feels:

This is shaping up to be a rather nice summer!

Back soon,


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Review: The Two Towers in The Netherlands

It's been quite some time since we've run a Live to Projection review, so big thanks go to Erik Ammerlaan for sending this great review of The Two Towers at De Doelen!


After a year, Middle-earth had once again returned to the Netherlands last weekend. The Two Towers Live in De Doelen concert hall in Rotterdam made Middle-earth almost tangible. Due to the tremendous success last year, when The Fellowship made its debut, the concert now even ran over three days instead of two. 

The foyer was buzzing with excitement. At multiple spots one could buy a programme and... The Music of The Lord of the Rings Films. I had already glimpsed that book at last year’s concert and it was after that, that I discovered www.musicoflotr.com and learnt more about the book. This year I was not in doubt and bought it. 

Further on, a lot of attention was attracted by a stand with Tolkien curiosa like books, helmets and Elven brooches. After having resisted the urge to buy anything, I walked into the concert hall where the musicians were tuning their instruments. Some musicians swiftly had a go at the Isengard theme. Even while tuning it sounded familiar! 

Finally, Ludwig Wicki entered the stage, whom was given a loud applause by the fans. The concert had a thunderous start with the Balrog fight. Wicki directed the musicians as if his life depended on it and the chorus quickened my pulse. It is unbelievable how the live music penetrates you. The rest of the first half – except The Mearas – was less captivating than last year’s concert. It’s not that it wasn’t good (far from it), but it’s just that I consider the musical material of TTT less interesting than that of the other movies. However, after the intermission, Kaitlyn Lusk and the children’s choir joined the musicians and made the concert an unparalleled performance! One could see that Ludwig and the musicians had a great time as well. It's great that local musicians can bring Middle-earth to life.

It’s worth mentioning the setup, because it is different from the concerts in other countries. Because the stage is smaller, the choirs are positioned at the sides of the upper circle. In my opinion, this unique setup makes the concert even better. Because the choir is on the side, they assume some kind of reflecting attitude, just like choirs in classical tragedy. Also, as an audience, one is much more immersed and actually feels a part of the whole.

Just like the Fellowship, The Two Towers was an amazing experience. Even the staff at the concert hall was elated because of the nice public and the great ambience. The people really seemed one in spirit. Afterwards, Ludwig Wiki and Kaitlyn Lusk even held a signing session. However, most people chose to quickly go to the queues in front of the cash desk, to advance order tickets for The Return of the King next year. 

I did not want to miss the signing session though! And what would be more appropriate to sign, than my just bought copy of The Music of The Lord of the Rings? So, the book already holds much value to me now. Ludwig and Kaitlyn were very friendly and really took their time to talk to the fans. 

Of course, I can’t wait for next year’s The Return of the King, but in the meantime I will enjoy your book. The book is very complete and offers many insights. On top of that, it also looks gorgeous! Certainly a must have for anyone that has the Complete Recordings

 Yours sincerely, 
 Erik Ammerlaan (The Netherlands)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Ongoing Discussion [June 2012]//WQXR Interview

Howard Shore joins this conversation on WQXR's Movies on the Radio via a Skype call from New Zealand around the 42:30 mark. Enjoy!

WQXR's Movies on the Radio meets Slate's Culture Gabfest: OnThursday, May 31 at 7 pm in The Greene Space, host David Garland spoke with Slate's Dana Stevens, Julia Turner and Stephen Metcalf about music and the movies, including a conversation about notable recent and upcoming releases.
Special features included a "Film Scoring 101" segment and a conversation with Academy Award-winning composer Howard Shore, who participated by Skype from New Zealand.
Our discussion is archived below in edited form and will appear on an upcoming installment of the Slate Culture Gabfest.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Cosmopolis Score on Facebook

I'm not sure how many of you are on Facebook, but you should be aware that Howard Shore's score to Cosmopolis now has its own Facebook page. Become a fan today!

And while you're there, be sure to 'like' The Music of the Lord of the Rings Films ... he said repetitively.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Here Comes the S.U.N.

Available July 10, 2012
Howard Shore began writing the score for the massive multiplayer online role-paying game,Soul of the Ultimate Nation (SUN) in the summer of 2004. In November of that year, Shore was in Moscow conducting The Lord of the Rings Symphony at the Kremlin with the National Philharmonic of Russia and Victor Popov’s Academy of Choral Arts. Following the Moscow concerts he traveled with the orchestra and chorus for another three concerts in Tokyo.
“I was still composing the music for SUN at this time and while in Japan I decided I wanted to write the piece specifically for this orchestra and chorus,” said Shore. “I wanted the chorus to sing in ancient Korean as a way to express the world of SUN. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to bring together the western and eastern concepts at play. The pieces were composed as tone poems to express the different characters, cultures and the world of this wonderfully detailed game.”
The game SUN has gradually made its way around the world although the music has only been released in parts of Asia. Now for the first time, as the second Collector’s Edition series of the Composer’s work, Howard Shore’s original score for SUN is available to a worldwide audience.
Visit Howe Records HERE
Preorder at Amazon HERE

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Shore on PRX

I spoke with Edmund Stone last autumn when I was helping with the LOTR West Coast tour and thoroughly enjoyed our chat -- though I was intimidated and humbled by the pictures of musical luminaries past and present that lined the walls of the studio.

Howard Shore recently sat down with Stone to talk about The Lord of the Rings, Silence of the LambsHugo, and more. The embed codes don't seem to want to play nice, so you can access the interview right HERE instead.

I believe this interview is from late December, so don't expect any heavy scoops on Cosmopolis -- which is great! -- or The Hobbit -- which is going to be great! -- but it's an excellent conversation nonetheless.

New Shore Piano Work to Premiere on June 19

Attention New Yorkers:

US Launch of
Petrushka Project
The Juilliard School's Paul Hall
June 19, 2012

70 New Piano Works by Composers Worldwide
Debut in Four Concerts Taking Place
in New York, London, Mainz, Beijing

Michael Brown and Christopher McKiggan Premiere New Works from Robert Beaser, Hans-Jürgen von Bose, Gavin Bryars, Chaya Czernowin, Atsuhiko Gondai, Thomas Larcher, Andrew Norman, Bernard Rands, Howard Shore, Alvin Singleton, Morton Subotnick, Stewart Wallace, Peteris Vasks and more

Petrushka Project, an unprecedented international live concert and commissioning initiative presented by the Strecker-Foundation, a leading music foundation based in Germany, lands in the US on June 19, 2012 at The Juilliard School's Paul Hall featuring pianists Michael Brown and Christopher McKiggan. Petrushka Project boasts the premieres of 70 new solo piano pieces by a wide range of composers worldwide. The Project affords a rare and unique opportunity for a wholesale international infusion of a huge variety of new piano music into the repertoire, all of it viewable from the Petrushka Project website beginning July 14 and on a dedicated "Petrushka Channel" on YouTube.
All 70 new piano works will be published by Schott Music in a printed collection and made available for download via Schott’s digital download platform, notafina. Soloists Christopher McKiggan and Michael Brown will perform 21 of the new works on the program at Paul Hall. Mr. McKiggan will premiere works by Robert Beaser, Hans-Jürgen von Bose, Viktor Ekimovsky, Atsuhiko Gondai, Ryo Kunihiko, Thomas Larcher, Emile Naoumoff, Howard Shore, Peteris Vasks, Stewart Wallace and Harald Weiss. Mr. Brown will perform works by Gavin Bryars, Chaya Czernowin, Andrew Norman, Albena Petrovic-Vratchanska, Bernard Rands, Alvin Singleton, Viktor Suslin, Morton Subotnick, Yoji Yuasa and Jing-Nuo Zhou.
Michael Brown, described as a “vividly characterized and rhythmically free-spirited” pianist by The New York Times, was the First Prize Winner of the 2010 Concert Artists Guild Victor Elmaleh Competition. Noted for his “great confidence and rhythmic flair” by Gramophone, he has appeared in many major venues including Carnegie Hall and Avery Fisher Hall, and has appeared as soloist with the Juilliard Orchestra at Alice Tully Hall under the baton of New York Philharmonic Music Director Alan Gilbert. He regularly participates in the Marlboro Music Festival and recently toured the US with Miriam Fried and Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute. In the 2011-2012 season, Mr. Brown performed recitals at Carnegie Hall as part of the Concert Artists Guild Winners Series, the Gilmore Festival’s Rising Stars Recital Series, Market Square Concerts, Bay Chamber Concerts, and the Chamber Music Society of Little Rock. Mr. Brown attended The Juilliard School completing dual Master of Music degrees in Piano and Composition. He studied with pianists Jerome Lowenthal and Robert McDonald, and composers Samuel Adler and Robert Beaser.
Hailed as a pianist to “keep your eyes and ears on” (Harper’s Bazaar Thailand) Christopher McKiggan was a finalist at the prestigious 2012 University of South Africa International Piano Competition. His playing has been praised as containing “astounding technique… [with] startling poise and control” (Kansas City Star) and “astonishing virtuosity and piano coloration” (The Citizen). His list of awards includes a Gold Medal from the Seattle International Piano Competition, Second Prize in the Solo Division and Third Prize in the Senior Concerto Division at the Kingsville International Music Competition, First Prize in the Bradshaw and Buono International Piano Competition, and many others. On May 19, 2012 he will open the Beijing Modern Music Festival performing Robert Beaser‘s Piano Concerto with the National Center for Performing Arts Orchestra under conductor Lv Jia. McKiggan graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and begins the DMA program in Piano Performance at Rice University under Prof. Jon Kimura later this year.
Petrushka Project features three additional concerts in London (June 8), Mainz (July 14), and Beijing (June 14). 

Cello Concerto Review

I'm catching up on posts today, so please forgive the fact that this is a slightly out-of-date.

Shore's new Cello Concerto premiered in April, and Allison Silvieus provided a short write-up in The Millbrook Independent:

Cellist Sophie Shao followed Marcovics’ performance in Howard Shore’s 2011 world premiere, Mythic Gardens. The concerto was commissioned for Shao, made financially possible by Linda and Stuart Nelson.  
Shao, native to Houston, Texas, studied with Shirley Trepel, former principal cellist of the Houston Symphony. She received a B.A. in religious studies from Yale and an M.M. from the Yale school of Music. She is a faculty member at Vassar college and Bard College’s Conservatory of Music.  
Shao performs throughout the U.S., Europe and Asia. The New York Times praised her “eloquent, powerful” interpretations. According to Peter Laki, visiting professor of music to Bard, she will appear this year as soloist with the BBC Concert Orchestra and Keith Lockhart in performances of the Elgar and Shostakovich concerti two-week tour. She can also be heard on EMI Classics, Bridge Records and on Albany Records.  
While Howard Shore is most well-known for his score of Lord of the Rings, he is an expert in concertos as well. Mythic Gardens “is based on the composer’s feelings upon visiting three sumptuous gardens in Italy—Cimbrone in Ravello on the Amalfi coast, the Medici gardens in Florence and the Villa Litta near Milan,” according to Peter Laki, visiting professor of music to Bard. 
The first movement, Cimbrone was peaceful, yet displayed Shao’s impressive finger movement with sections of quick-tempos as well. The second peace, Medici was similar to Brubeck’s in that it was slow and mellow, achieving a depth of musicality by the orchestra and feeling by the audience. The final Visconti Borromeo Litta ends with a vibrant, full orchestra accompanying Shao.  
The evening ended with two full orchestra concertos by Lutoslawski and Bartók. Hearing the two concertos in one concert was a rare opportunity because one affected the other. Bartók composed in total freedom, whereas Lutoslawski composed during the communist regime of Stalin. ASO performed both well and the connection between the two was evident.  
While the whole night was filled with musicality, Marcovics and Shao were the highlight. Their naturalness as musicians intrigued the audience, who responded in loud praise to both musicians.

The review of the full concert -- which also included a new trombone concerto by Christopher Brubeck, son of the great Dave Brubeck -- can be read HERE.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Ongoing Discussion [May 2012] -- Cosmopolis Edition

The soundtrack for Cosmopolis reunites composer Howard Shore and the band METRIC for another cinematic collaboration. While writing the score for David Cronenberg’s film adaptation of the Don DeLillo novel Cosmopolis, Shore conceived of a particular live sound to achieve his vision and invited METRIC to perform the score and co-write three songs. The music was recorded in November 2011 at the band’s own Giant Studios in Toronto, produced by Howard Shore and METRIC guitarist Jimmy Shaw, and mixed by John O’Mahony at Liberty Studios in Toronto and Electric Lady Studios in NYC. The result is an atmospheric, urban soundscape of analog synths and layered guitars featuring the hypnotic vocals of METRIC lead singer Emily Haines. The Cosmopolis soundtrack also features “Mecca” by Somali Singer/Rapper K’NAAN with lyrics by the artist and Don DeLillo. 

The soundtrack album features the songs:

“Long to Live”
Written by Emily Haines, James Shaw, Howard Shore
Performed by Metric

“I Don’t Want to Wake Up”
Written by Emily Haines, James Shaw, Howard Shore
Performed by Metric

 “Call Me Home”
Written by Emily Haines, James Shaw, Howard Shore
Performed by Metric

Lyrics by Don DeLillo and K’NAAN
Performed by K’NAAN

Preview tracks are available HERE

Friday, April 20, 2012

OT Cello Musings

With the premiere of Shore's Cello Concerto just a week away, I thought maybe it would be interesting to take a quick look at an article from today's (April 20, 2012) Chestnut Hill Local:

I’ll be honest: while I’ve been to hundreds of plays and concerts, I went to an orchestra performance for the first time this year. As a caretaker to an elderly family member, I found myself at the Bryn Athyn Orchestra’s spring matinee performance. In my late 20s, I was certainly one of the youngest people in attendance. 
As for myself, I think the assertion that there will never be another great classical composer is incredibly arrogant. Perhaps, being so young and still waiting for my chance to stun the world, it’s my naiveté that leaves me so galled. But it seems to me that reflexive assumptions about the impossibility of unknown future greatness would be the death knell of any arts organization. 
Bach, Vivaldi and Mozart, et al, have plenty of company on my iPod: they’re joined by Hans Zimmer, Howard Shore, Yann Tiersen, John Williams and Philip Glass. I would certainly consider attending live performances of music by these and many more living composers. 
Of course, the panel discussion would not have been complete without some hearty vilification of cantankerous critics: “corrosive”, “poisonous” and “a destructive force” were just some of the phrases used to describe injustices at the hands of music writers. Some attendees bemoaned the role of the Inquirer in perpetuating bad criticism.

You can read Alaina Mabaso's full article HERE. Even if I don't agree with every sentiment expressed, it's an intriguing thought piece ... especially framed by the debut of Shore's new concert work.
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