Hobbits are coming out of their holes for a long-expected musical homage to Howard Shore’s compelling Lord of the Rings score. His compositions will be performed as the film plays in the background, in a spectacle set to rival Gandalf’s fireworks.
The first film in the series, “The Fellowship of the Ring” will hit the road this fall in a brief nine-city tour highlighting the music from the film. The tour’s producer, Alex Rabens, said the tour takes a page from the success of Star Wars Live, albeit, with a lengthy twist.
While Star Wars Live featured the music from all six Star Wars films compiled into one show, Rabens said his concert will include the score of the first film in its entirety. “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring in Concert” is very similar to the screening of the film. Fans will watch the entire movie on a large screen, and the voice and sound effects will run in time with the film. The only difference is that the music from the film will be performed live by a 200-piece ensemble made up of Germany’s Munich Symphony Orchestra, the Pacific Chorale of Costa Mesa, Calif., and the Phoenix Boys Choir.
Howard Shore composed music for all three films in what is often considered one of the greatest film scores of all time. The scores have earned three Academy Awards (including Best Original Score in both 2001 and 2003) and three Grammy Awards.
Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring Live In Concert premiers at Radio City Music Hall
“Howard Shore was so engrossed in the gospel of J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ that he wrote music for scenes that he was told would be deleted in the final cut because he believed it was his responsibility,” said Rabens. “There was only going to be one person scoring these movies and if he was going to be that chosen one, then he was going (to give) 100 percent.”
The show has had a limited run at Radio City Music Hall in New York, selling approximately 10,000 tickets for three shows. Rabens wouldn’t release the gross for the show, or the potential upside for his nine-city West Coast tour, but he optimistically points to the success of the movie franchise. The final film in the series, “The Return of the King,” grossed $1.1 billion and the entire three-film franchise has raked in $2.9 billion.
The show won’t be traveling with much of set, beyond some exterior rigging and a massive screen and projection system to display the movie. The largest cost remains “feeding and caring for 200 musicians and a crew of 50,” said Rabens, who noted he’s trying to curb expenses with tight routing. The 2011 tour runs exclusively on the West Coast, playing consecutive nights in each city, beginning with the Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, Ariz., and ending only 12 days later at the Power Balance Pavilion in Sacramento, Calif.
That’s quite a marathon for Maestro Ludwig Wicki, who will serve as the conductor for the three-and-a-half-hour event. The film has a run time just two minutes shy of three hours, and Swiss-born Wicki said he planned to tap into his mountain climbing endurance to perform the music in two 90-minute segments with a 30-minute intermission.
“I was a quite a climber when I was a young man, and peaked many of the Swiss Alps, which I think has given me the endurance I need for this type of performance,” he joked from his home in Lucerne, Switzerland.
The show is booked, managed and produced by Rabens in conjunction with Columbia Artists Management Incorporated, the classical division of Columbia Music. The shows will be co-promoted with nine participating venues in a deal that has the facilities pick up most of the advertising and marketing. Davidson and Choy in Los Angeles is handling publicity.
“There’s definitely some risk in that it’s a new product, but I absolutely think there’s an audience for it, for sure,” said Jo-Ann Armstrong, talent buyer for the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., which hosts the show on Oct. 10.
One costly lesson Rabens learned early on — most arenas don’t offer a two-foot stage, which his show needs so that the instrumentalists don’t block the giant screen.
“We’re going to create a customized set for the second run of the tour,” he said, “but for now, we’ll have to rent them.”
The “Fellowship of the Ring” will tour the East Coast during Spring 2012, followed by the “The Two Towers,” which tours the West Coast in Fall 2012 and Spring 2013. The same schedule is anticipated one year later for the final film in the series, “The Return of the King.”
By the time the live trilogy ends, the trilogy’s prequel, the Hobbit, will have made its theatrical debut in two parts. New Line Cinema, Warner Bros., and MGM announced Monday that the Peter Jackson-directed
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’’ will be released Dec. 14, 2012. The sequel, “The Hobbit: There and Back Again,’’ is to be released Dec. 13, 2013. — Dave Brooks
Interviewed for this article: Alex Rabens, (212) 841-9719; Ludwig Wicki, +41 (41) 410 69 94; Jo-Ann Armstrong, (714) 704-2422