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'Fellowship of the Ring'

This review is an Ionarts exclusive.

Fellowship of the Ring, Wolf Trap (photo by Priska Ketterer Luzern)
Master Ionarts and I have reviewed the last two installments of the Lord of the Rings trilogy -- in 2009 and 2010 -- in the special screenings in the outdoor theater at Wolf Trap. The appeal of such screenings, with the film score performed live by a vast orchestra and choral ensemble, plus soloists, has not diminished. Wolf Trap began a second cycle of these movie screenings, which we saw on Saturday night, in the company of a vast crowd. While Master Ionarts did not quite understand the story the first time around, he understands the Tolkien saga now, and we both sat riveted to our seats by both the cinematic marvels, and in some cases, the musical ones (noteworthy more for the epic sweep than the fine details).

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.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Photograph is not from the Wolf Trap event this year.