One Score 2014

John Williams conducting at Ravinia

LORD OF THE RINGS: FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING

By Doug Adams

For decades, these words have ignited the imaginations of more than 100 million readers around the globe. They were first read in 1954, when J.R.R. Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring, the first volume in his towering three-part epic, The Lord of the Rings, was published.

Tolkien's work was to have a profound effect on generations of readers, defining for many the archetypal struggle between good and evil, and was voted in worldwide polls the "Book of the Century." It set the benchmark for the modern epic in its creation of an entirely new and thrillingly vital universe. It introduced an unforgettable hero-the Hobbit Frodo Baggins-caught up in a war of mythic proportions in Middleearth, a world full of magic and lore.

Most of all, it celebrated the power of loyal friendship and individual courage, a power that may hold at bay even the most devastating forces of darkness.

Bringing the legend that Tolkien imagined to life on the motion picture screen was an undertaking that required nothing less than one of the most colossal movie productions ever embarked upon. The mythos, landscapes, and creatures Tolkien created are so vast and detailed in scope that it took more than four decades for cinema technology to reach the necessary level of sophistication to bring his universe to powerful and palpable life. Such a project required nothing less than a visionary to take it on, and a first experiment in filmmaking to make the simultaneous production of all three films possible.

Jackson and his devoted production team of over 2,400 filmed all over the spectacular landscapes of New Zealand, a logistical operation on par with an intricate and wide-reaching military campaign. An army of artists-including digital experts, medieval weapons designers, stone sculptors, linguists, costumers, make-up artists, blacksmiths and model builders-as well as an internationally renowned cast of actors and over 26,000 extras-gathered to make this ambitious dream come true.

A Note on Howard Shore's Score
by Doug Adams


Composer Howard Shore brought J.R.R. Tolkien's literary imagination to vivid life with his Academy®and Grammy® Award-winning score to The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Shore's music expresses Peter Jackson's film as an immense symphonic work-a uniquely developed vision drawn from centuries of stylistic tendencies.

The music of The Lord of the Rings is counted among film music's most complex and comprehensive works. Ravinia's live performances of August 18 and 19 sets the score to the film, but allows the music to bear the narrative weight, creating a wholly new and dramatic live concert experience.

Shore's score not only captures Fellowship' s sweeping emotion, thrilling vistas and grand journeys, but also echoes the very construction of Tolkien's Middle-earth. Styles, instruments and performers collected from around the world provide each of Tolkien's cultures with a unique musical imprint. The rural and simple hobbits are rooted in a dulcet weave of Celtic tones. The mystical Elves merit ethereal Eastern colors. The Dwarves, Tolkien's abrasive stonecutters, receive columns of parallel harmonies and a rough, guttural male chorus. The industrialized hordes of Orcs claim Shore's most violent and percussive sounds, including Japanese taiko drums, metal bell plates and chains beaten upon piano wires; while the world of Men, flawed yet noble heirs of Middle-earth, is introduced with stern and searching brass figures. In operatic fashion, these musical worlds commingle, sometimes combining forces for a culminated power, other times violently clashing-and always bending to the will of the One Ring and its own ominous family of themes.

The music's vast scope calls for symphony orchestra, mixed chorus, boys chorus and instrumental and vocal soloists singing in the Tolkien-crafted languages Quenya, Sindarin, Khuzdûl, Adûnaic and Black Speech, as well as English. Original folk songs stand alongside diatonic hymns, knots of polyphony, complex tone clusters and seething, dissonant aleatoric passages. It is purposeful, knowing writing, as contained in execution as it is far-reaching in influence; for within this broad framework resides a remarkably concise musical vision. Shore's writing assumes an earthy, grounded tone built on sturdy orchestral structures and a sense of line that is at once fluid yet stripped of frivolous ornamentation.

Says Howard Shore, "My first score for The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring, was the beginning of my journey into the world of Tolkien, and I will always hold a special fondness for the music and the experience."

Doug Adams is a Chicago-based musician and writer. He is the author of the book The Music of the Lord of the Rings Films, which is available at Ravinia Gifts, where Adams will be signing copies starting at 6:45 before both showings of the film.