Lord of the Rings live in concert… with a little help from Sibelius

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Next week, fans of Peter Jackson’s multi-Oscar-winning trilogy of films based on J.R.R. Tolkein’s saga, The Lord of the Rings, will descend upon London’s Royal Albert Hall for two live performances of the score from the movies. The first film, The Fellowship of the Ring, will be screened in the Royal Albert Hall, accompanied by a live performance of the score by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the London Voices and the London Oratory School Schola (all of whom recorded the original soundtrack for the film), conducted by Ludwig Wicki.

Although the scores and parts for the original recording sessions for The Lord of the Rings were produced in Finale, the scores and parts used for the live performances of the movies are being prepared in Sibelius by Sue Sinclair and her team. A great article in German magazine Cinema Musica explains something of the process that goes into putting this kind of project together. The article actually deals with preparations for the first live performance of the score for the second film of the trilogy, The Two Towers, which happened last month. Doug Adams, author of the upcoming book The Music of The Lord of the Rings, has a transcript of the article on his site. Here’s a snippet:

Sue Sinclair has now been working for over three and a half years as a music copyist (a music engraver) for Howard Shore. She prepares music for performance (whether to be recorded or played live in concert) and “engraves” the composer’s manuscript via computer. This makes her one of the first people to get a look at a new work of a composer, which makes her job feel thrilling and like a privilege.

For this reason Sue Sinclair is playing a major role during the pre-concert work for The Two Towers – Live to Projection concert. She started working on The Two Towers concert during summer 2008. “I began work on The Two Towers, anticipating several trouble spots,” says Sinclair. She tracks them down by comparing the score with the movie, relying completely on her ears. She conducts the score with the film and puts a sticky note wherever she hears the music deviating from the print: a potential trouble spot. Those trouble spots can originate from the final edit made in post-production, where a scene gets shortened and the music is now too long. For a live performance, the music needs to be without trouble spots. This means some passages might have to be shortened, or Shore even has to recompose some bars of his original composition for the live performance.

On February 9th, 2009, Sue Sinclair had finished preparing the final score sheets (the so-called print matter) for the Lucerne-performance – a document, almost a thousand pages in total, containing all instrumentations.

A handful of limited view seats are still available for the performances at the Royal Albert Hall of The Fellowship of the Ring on Tuesday 14 April and Wednesday 15 April. If you’d like to go along, act fast!

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