This review is an Ionarts exclusive.
Fellowship of the Ring, Wolf Trap (photo by Priska Ketterer Luzern)
We heard some disappointment voiced by patrons seated on the lawn outside the theater, because there was only one, not especially large screen positioned at the center of the outer wall. From the sides of the especially crowded lawn it was difficult to make out anything on the screen. One imagines that the full effect of the live performance, which is heard mostly through loudspeakers on the lawn, is experienced only inside the theater. The scores of these films, composed by Howard Shore, are not good enough to make the experience worthwhile for someone only interested in music. For anyone like me, however -- who read and re-read all of the Tolkien books obsessively as a young person and watched each of the Peter Jackson movies with the uncanny feeling of having the books come to visual life almost exactly as I had imagined them -- it makes for three hours (with intermission) of visual and aural thrills.
The orchestra for these performances is called the Filene Center Orchestra, and although they do not have much of a cohesive identity as an ensemble, the playing was generally good. At the podium, Erik Ochsner had his work out cut for him in keeping the sprawled-out forces in line, including two choirs, the City Choir of Washington and the World Children's Choir. Two soloists, soprano Kaitlyn Lusk and treble Nolan Musselwhite (from the Washington National Cathedral Boys Choir), had a pleasing sound over the amplification system.