Fantastic! Stupendous! Captivating!
Because I deeply love the books, the films, and the soundtracks, the symphony was going to be huge for me no matter if they played the music on banjos, washboards and a whiskey jug. They didn’t play those instruments, but they did play a plethora of others that you don’t see much. The percussion section was hacking on brake and Japanese taiko drums, various size woodblocks and raking metal chains over actual piano strings. The trombones played this low, low “blatt” all through the piece which gave you the feeling of uneasiness and brooding suspense. There was this piccolo that sounded like some ancient flute from another world. They had Scandinavian fiddles and 12-string classical guitars. Two harps. What on earth do you need 2 harps for? They put everything to fabolous use.
The choirs were very impressive. The Cincinnati Children’s Choir and the May Choir sang in Elvish, Dwarvish, Black-Speech, and a bit of English. Too bad that they will never use the languages they learned in a future concert. I doubt many new pieces of chorale music are going to be written in Elvish.
The multimedia presentation helped keep you up-to-date in the storyline, but it was not what you paid attention to. It was just a nice, little addition to the night, but didn’t play a prominent role in the experience. The vocals were enchanting. They made you want to weep, smile, and close your eyes and imagine a far off place.
Howard Shore, the composer of the symphony, has propelled himself into the ranks of John Williams (composer of Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, Harry Potter) and John Barry (Dances with Wolves) as writing one of the greatest movie scores ever.