Thursday, 9 August 2012

Review: The QSO performs The Lord of the Rings

On Friday night Rowebotic and I became the envy of our friends when we got a little nerdy and went to see the Queensland Symphony Orchestra perform The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring at QPAC.

 All images copyright of the Lord of the Rings and New Line.

The ‘performance’ of the Lord of the Rings premiered in late 2003, on the same weekend as the premiere of The Return of the King, with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra conducted by Howard Shore, the composer. Since then the production has toured the world, under strict licence by the New Line and having been performed by both the Sydney Symphony and the MSO, it’s Brisbane’s turn.

We started out night by trying out the recently opened Champ kitchen + bar, under the new ABC/QSO Building in Southbank. The latest venture by the owners of Anouk, it’s a delightful cafĂ© restaurant that is perfectly placed to tend to the dining needs of show-goers, tourists and of course, office workers.

We each had a glass of white ($8 / $10), I had the Crab and apple salad on scallop ceviche with baby pea shoots and a trickle of jus ($19) and Rowebotic devoured her Peking duck dumplings in duck consommé with shiitake and scallop and scallop mushroom ($17). They were both divine; amazing flavours and the freshest ingredients. Unfortunately, not quite enough for a light dinner on a Friday evening. The rest of the dinner menu was equally mouth-watering and I would love to go back soon to try the duck confit or the tea-smoked barramundi.

We sat on the outside terrace overlooking the bougainvillea, the river and the street traffic. With a  glass of chilled Muscadet in hand, it was a lovely way to spend an hour. I predict that come summer and long warm evenings, one will have to get in early to get one of these ideal spots.

The film

Back to the real review – The QSO performs Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Friday night was the first of three sold-out performances.  This was not a normal production at all. The special guest conductor tours with the film production – this is what he does, with orchestras around the world. There were two choirs, an almost full orchestra with additional augmentation of instruments such as a hammer dulcimer, a gong, two soloists and an accordion. The stage was packed, as was the hall.

For many of the audience, this was the first time they had attended a performance by the QSO and you could sense the excitement amongst the audience as we sat through the normal processes of entrance by the musicians and guests, tune-up then sat in anticipation, waiting for the film to start.  

In a normal movie theatre, one concentrates so hard on the visuals and the dialogue that the music fades into the background, adding to the overall mood of the film, subconsciously completing the scenes and adding to the dramatic tension. Music can make or break a film, and in a film such as The Fellowship of the Ring, the original score makes the film soar.

What was interesting about the production for me was that, unlike a normal film, one was so much more aware of the music and sound effects. You really heard the lilting tones of the winds and the looming depth of the double basses; the sharp ringing of steal in the sound effect track all stood out clearly. In contrast, the dialogue sometimes faded away, so you were relying on the subtitles to follow the plot. Even with subtitles and disappearing words, the film was as good as it ever was and the story swept up and carried the 1,000+ audience for the full three hours (plus an interval).

From time to time you forgot that there was orchestra performing in front of you, but you never lost the presence of the music. This wasn’t the first time I’d seen the film – I own the extended editions, actually – so I didn’t get too swept away in the action. I sat back and watched the screen, watched the French horns (who had a really big job to do), watched the conductor manage all of his competing priorities with typical conductor flair.

Jane did a bit of story-stealing on Monday when she blogged about the moment towards the end of the first half of the film when it came to the moment when Boromir declares 'One does not simply walk into Mordor' and the whole theatre erupted into giggles. The internet unified close to 1,000 people in a shared pop culture gag. Wonderful. Not sure all the orchestra got it, though.

We stayed for the credits – because of course, there is music accompanying the credits – and afterwards the audience leapt to a standing ovation. The night was nothing but a success for audience and orchestra. To entice such a cross-section of people into the concert hall and then perform an engaging and complex piece of work was a real triumph for the QSO. To have the opportunity to see such a wonderful performance by an orchestra, in a really innovative and modern setting, was a true delight for those of us lucky enough to get a seat.

This is an amazing experience for Lord of the Rings fans. Even if you just enjoy the films, the experience of seeing a movie orchestrated live, hearing all the small sounds that make up the vivid audio back drop of a film soundtrack is truly unique and not-to-be-missed.

If you missed out on this year’s production, there is already a wait list for next year’s production of the QSO performs The Two Towers. Sign up now and be among the first to get your tickets.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...