“I always set the piece as a symphonic concert so that the story could be told and it could be intimate.” – Howard Shore, Academy Award-winning composer of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
THERE IS NO better way to describe the live concert at The Mann Center on Saturday night, July 23, 2016 than in Howard Shore‘s words. The magical symphonic soundscape, the musical intimacy and a starry night outside on The Mann Center‘s grassy lawn set the background for the live concert of The Two Towers, the beloved second installment in the trilogy of J.R.R. Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings.
Much like last year’s performance of The Fellowship of the Ring, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Boys Choir & Chorale joined forces once again to bring Howard Shore‘s Academy Award-winning score to Philadelphia’s outdoor The Mann Center.
The film was projected onto a huge outdoor screen with only the soundtrack removed so you still heard the actors’ lines being spoken while the performers played in the alongside the film – it was essentially as if you were watching the film with 500+ of your best friends, all having after-dark picnics on the dewy lawn (it had just rained).
I surprised myself: there were times when I realized I was zoning out while watching the film and then remembered that the orchestra and choruses were performing live – that’s how mind-blowingly phenomenal the entire performance was – you forgot the performers were even there at all. This, in my book, is the mark of exceptional talent.
The original female vocalist from the film’s soundtrack performed that evening as well. Kaitlyn Lusk has been the featured soloist in Howard Shore‘s Lord of the Rings Symphony since 2004 and performed the role with many of the world’s finest orchestras and renowned conductors. In the film, one particular vocal theme Kaitlyn would sing usually showed up in scenes with Éowyn (shieldmaiden of Rohan) and again during the credits. Her voice was the delicious audio equivalent to dunking a gooey Insomnia cookie in a glass of chilled milk.
The energy of the crowd during the performance/ film was infectious and joyful. It was comforting to know that there were other people in the world who #fangirl just as hard as I do during Rohan’s theme. Though if you heard “The Sound of Rohan” live, I’m sure you would too. And also anytime Legolas did anything badass is just a give in for mad cheering.
Overall, the evening was a visceral experience. Standing on its own, the film is a glorious masterwork, made possible by professional “dream-makers;” but being able to witness The Philadelphia Orchestra combined with two choruses, The Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Boys Choir & Chorale, creating art in the form of musical magic, was a much-needed reminder of the poignant effects that live music can have on you.
This performance gets 5/5 Rings from this satisfied concert-goer: