the further adventures of

Mike Pirnat

a leaf on the wind

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The Ring's the Thing

Egads, but it's been far too long since I've posted anything here. I guess I'd better write about this weekend while it's still fresh.

Sometime last fall, I bouncily reported to my wife that the Columbus Orchestra would be performing Howard Shore's Lord of the Rings Symphony: Six Movements for Orchestra and Chorus in March, and would she at all be interested in possibly maybe going. At the time, she shrugged and said sure, and I ordered tickets online just as lickety-split quick as I could.

Fast forward to this weekend. It turned out that Columbus would have the honor of hosting the US premiere of the symphony. Oh, excitement!

We both took Friday off from work so that we could sleep in, pack some overnight things, and have a leisurely drive down to Columbus. Stopped briefly along the way to feed my addiction for Mephisto shoes (damn comfy, and a good outlet for a portion of my bonus), then got settled in at the Capitol Square Hyatt for a brief rest.

We got appropriately spiffed-up and embarked on our journey.

Dinner was a handful of blocks away at Mitchell's Steakhouse, which is located in a former bank. An enormous space, with huge, ornately decorated ceilings, it still manages to feel intimate. The food was delicious, the wine we selected Langtry's 1998 Meritage) was a fabulous match, and the service was great (I was amazed by the fact that our waitress took the vastly over-charred creme brulee off of our bill even though we'd eaten almost all of it, and hadn't asked for it to be sent back or anything).

Our destination for the performance was the Ohio Theatre, conveniently located right next to the Hyatt. It's truly a beautiful location, absolutely lovely at every square inch. I was somewhat alarmed as we were shown to our seats; I remembered I had purchased loge tickets all those months and months ago, but I'd never actually bothered to work out where we'd be sitting. Well. Surprise! We were in the very first row of the loge, just a few seats to the right of center. I honestly could not have asked for a better location. Wow! And, hey, I asked, what might be the deal with the three screens with the tengwar glyphs on them? I hadn't heard about any kind of video accompaniment. Double wow! As the musicians (three choirs and a full orchestra!) started to file in and warm up, I started to really geek out with anticipation.

I can't even begin to describe how much I loved the performance. Shore's Rings music has a way of completely captivating me. And, I'll be honest, there are certain places in the score so achingly beautiful that I can't help but get quite teary-eyed. All the while, music was matched with projected video of sketches by artist John Howe, which in themselves were stunning. The video was fairly straightforward, with lots of "Ken Burns Effect," but quite powerful with the music, really tapping directly into the imagination. The balrog and the destruction of Mordor were particularly powerful sequences when paired with the video. It was really a tremendous, amazing honor to be present; the audience's standing ovation at the end went on and on and on and on... Shore seemed quite overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and appreciation. (I half expected him to good-naturedly shoo us out as I've seen John Williams do, but it didn't happen; I don't think he's quite so used to this kind of "rock star" treatment yet.)

Okay, so there were a couple of nits that I'll pick. The soloist from the children's choir was decent, but not quite up to snuff, and certainly no Edward Ross, so the vocal portion of "The Breaking of the Fellowship" was not quite as exquisite as I would have liked it. On the other hand, I was impressed by the female soloist who sang in the movements from The Two Towers and The Return of the King--she had a LOT of different material to cover, and acquitted herself quite well. (She had to sing the Emiliana Torrini "Gollum's Song," had to try to fill Annie Lennox's shoes for "Into the West," had all of Ben Del Maestro's material from both Towers and King... Impressive!)

My only other nit is just from the perspective of wishing certain things hadn't been cut in order to fit the symphony into a comfortable length of time. For the most part, I had no problems with what was omitted, or how transitions were constructed, but I really wanted to hear the "Shelob's Lair" music, because I love how much of a tripped-out Bernard Herrman homage it is, all kinds of creepy and wild and tumultuous and perfect for Shelob.

But, like I said, it was a tremendous evening, and I loved it.

In case you were really curious, here's what makes up the symphony:

  • The Fellowship of the Ring
    Movement One

    • The Prophecy
    • Concerning Hobbits
    • The Shadow of the Past
    • A Short Cut to Mushrooms
    • The Old Forest
    • A Knife in the Dark
  • Movement Two

    • Many Meetings
    • The Ring Goes South
    • A Journey in the Dark
    • The Bridge of Khazad-dûm
    • Lothlórien
    • Gandalf's Lament
    • Farewell to Lórien
    • The Great River
    • The Breaking of the Fellowship
  • Intermission
  • The Two Towers
    Movement Three

    • Foundations of Stone
    • The Taming of Smeagol
    • The Riders of Rohan
    • The Black Gate is Closed
    • Evenstar
    • The White Rider
    • Treebeard
    • The Forbidden Pool
  • Movement Four

    • The Hornburg
    • Forth Eorlingas
    • Isengard Unleashed
    • Gollum's Song
  • The Return of the King
    Movement Five

    • Hope and Memory
    • The White Tree
    • The Steward of Gondor
    • Cirith Ungol
    • Anduril
  • Movement Six

    • The End of All Things
    • The Return of the King
    • The Grey Havens
    • Into the West

Today we had some quickie errands to take care of in Columbus, had lunch at The Ocean Club, another of Cameron Mitchell's restaurants. The food was delightful and I must now publicly declare my passionate love for the decor! Every inch is organic, elegant, underwater, cool! I will definitely be back, and you should check it out too.

Along the way back home, we also stopped at Grandpa's Cheese Barn, because, well, with a name like "Cheese Barn," it has to be worth checking out. It made a nice excuse to get out of the car for a bit, and didn't disappoint. The cheese and other things out for sampling were quite tasty. Grandpa's also features a deli, various meats and smoked dead things, über-quaint kitchy gifts, home made ice cream, and fudge. We escaped with minimal damages, only a block of cranberry cheese, the best seventy-five-cent chocolate chip cookie in the universe, and a bottle of water. (The whiskey cheese was also tempting, but I was able to resist it.)

And thus we are returned, grateful for the journey, but glad to be home.

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