Wow, that was awesome! Seeing The Fellowship of the Ring at Wolf Trap on Thursday with the entire score played live (choirs included) was the best concert I’ve ever been to (not that I’ve been to a great many).
Hearing the music live really brought it to life (obviously). The orchestra sounded fantastic, and their sounds come straight to you without any sort of flattening or degradation. It really put my headphones, my usual way of hearing film music, to utter shame. The choirs were also outstanding, boomingly powerful. In dark dangerous parts, when the orchestra is in a uproar and the choir was singing fortissimo and the timpani is pounding away, I thought I could really feel the ground quake. Awesome!
Like the choirs, the vocal soloist, Kaitlyn Lusk, was also fantastic, and seemed to sing beautifully and perfectly.
When the film started, I realized it was to be captioned, all the spoken words appearing in white at the bottom of the screen. I thought “oh, come on, I already have it all memorized… and if your deaf, why are you here anyway?” but there were some moments when the sound of the orchestra seemed to overtake the sound of the characters’ speech, and it was hard to hear what they were saying, so I suppose the captions did come in handy… at least for those who didn’t have the film memorized. (Ok, I really don’t have it completely memorized myself, so don’t quiz me.)
While watching, my eyes went back and forth between the action on the screen and the movement of the orchestra players, or at least the players I could see, mostly string players. It would have been nice to see all the choirs, but they were hidden behind the screen, at least from where I was sitting. Still, being able to watch just a fragment of the orchestra made the music a bit “visual” … when the music dropped out, especially at exciting scenes, I realized it much more consciously. I was also able to better anticipate the coming of music by watching the players prepare right before a cue. It was very fun to watch. Then, there were other times when I was just wrapped up in the amazing story of the movie that I forgot the music was live; the great story and dialog just engaged me completely.
Another thing I really enjoyed about the performance is just getting to see it with a crowd of other fans. Hearing the audience laugh at the funny parts just seems to make them more funny, hearing the utter silence at a serious part makes it that much more serious, hearing the applause at a particularly powerful scene with powerful music (or after a soloist’s performance) made it seem that much more grand. It’s a bit like watching a comedy with friends; it’s just much more fun as you can all feed off of each other’s reaction. So just the psychology of watching the film with a crowd of fans rather than just watching it alone really changed the experience for the better. It wasn’t like sitting in a theater with annoying cell-phone talkers or blathering middle-school girls in front of you; it was like everyone there was just as focused on the film and the experience as you were.
Just how in sync the orchestra kept was astounding! I can imagine an orchestra messing up many a time during a real film music recording session, but to perform a 3 hour score live, keeping proper tempo constantly without the option to start any cue over, they were amazing. Never did the music not match what was on screen, never did something seem a little off. It seemed just about perfect!
I am hoping, sincerely hoping, that Wolf Trap will do The Two Towers and The Return of the King as well; you can bet I’ll make it to those. The concert was superb, fantastic, definitely the best concert I’ve been to yet. Bravo!
That was amazing! 🙂
And many many thanks to my mom, who accompanied me! I am very glad she enjoyed it as well!! 🙂
Daniel · May 25, 2008 at 3:45 AM
The New Blather » A long blathery post · September 1, 2009 at 2:41 AM
[…] Last Friday my mom and I went to Wolftrap to see a Lord of the Rings concert. They have an orchestra play all the film music (choirs and soloists included), while projecting the film The Two Towers in HD on a huge screen. We went to the same concert last year for first Lord of the Rings film, The Fellowship of the Ring, and I blogged about the experience here. […]
The New Blather » What to do with free time? And stuff… · September 13, 2010 at 11:53 PM
[…] have much to say that I didn’t say in my reviews of the last two concerts of the trilogy here and here. It wasn’t flawless; there was a moment when the screen went black for 10 […]