Orchestra, choirs performing in sync with film for 'Lord of the Rings in Concert'


However geek-tacular your home theater might be, you won't win this one.

You may have the 60-inch TV screen and 7.1 channel surround sound. But you probably can't jam a 60-foot screen, or 200 musicians and singers, into your man cave.

So it takes the Orleans Arena to host "Lord of the Rings in Concert" today. An orchestra and two choirs will perform in sync to a full screening of the first film in the Hobbit trilogy, "The Fellowship of the Ring."

"It almost brings an extra breath of life to the movie," says Billy Boyd, who played Pippin in the hit movie trilogy now marking 10 years since the first installment. (Boyd will not be part of the performance, but serves as a media spokesman for the venture.)

Boyd was at Radio City Music Hall two years ago, when he first saw Howard Shore's epic score played live to the film. "Cinema is our generation's storytelling. It's how we watch stories, you know," he says. But as such, "we're used to what that is. ... You sit as a spectator and it kind of rolls over you."

"Somehow, the evening with the live orchestration in some ways bridges the gap between watching a movie and watching a live performance, like watching theater," he says. The concert "feels like you're part of some collective thing that's happening in that moment."

Last year, the same arena hosted a symphonic "Star Wars" program, which was more the usual way film music is played in pops concerts: themes from the movies boiled down to suites, accompanied by film clips, but not the whole movie in sequence.

The latter was typically attempted only for silent-era classics. (The Las Vegas Philharmonic accompanied "Nosferatu" at the bygone CineVegas Film Festival way back in 2000.) A "talkie" presents formidable challenges if you want the audience to hear the dialogue.

But, as in all parts of life, computers have changed things.

Ludwig Wicki will conduct the Munich Symphony Orchestra by looking at a computer screen that annotates the film with video "squiggle" notations, showing him when the orchestra should rise and fall.

The Pacific Chorale from Orange County, Calif., and the Phoenix Boys Choir add to Shore's beyond-big score, which ranges from soft Celtic melodies to dissonant percussion when the scary orcs show up.

"He basically wrote three operas, which was pretty incredible," Boyd says.

Boyd doesn't run from fan gatherings for the Peter Jackson-directed J.R.R. Tolkien trilogy. "If you're an actor and artist in any way and you stay in it long enough, something will happen that will become the defining moment," he says. "If you're going to be associated with something as great as the 'Rings' was, I can't have a problem with that."

Still, the Scottish actor and musician hadn't seen the films start-to-finish since their premieres 10 years ago, before sitting down to take in the orchestral screening of "Fellowship" with members of his mellow rock band Beecake.

"It made Middle Earth real, a real and believable place and experience," he says. "For the first time, I kind of got totally involved. ... Whether it was me getting involved in the memory or getting involved in the movie, I'm not sure. It certainly was a very emotional, kind of joyful evening."

But it's too bad his Pippin character didn't get his big musical moment until the third installment.

"Maybe when we get to 'Return of the King,' I could come on and sing my song," he says.

Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288.

 

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