Howard Shore at The National Concert Hall – Review & Photos

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Three time Academy Award winner Howard Shore had a marvelous evening of music in the National Concert Hall on Saturday the 26th of April. The concert exhibited not only his talent as a film music composer, but also his compositions for the concert platform. There were many different ensembles involved; the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, the DIT Chamber Choir and also the University of Dublin Choral Society along with RTÉ’s Cór na nÓg and many soloists. Shore had been in Dublin days previous to the concert and had spent lots of time working and rehearsing with all the groups involved. There was a quick ‘question and answer’ with Shore on stage before the show and it was nice to see his great involvement with all aspects of the concert, assuring us that this was going to be a fantastic show.

The concert began with ’Fanfare for Organ and Brass’ which was commissioned by Macy’s to celebrate their 150th year in business. The intricate organ played skilfully by David Leigh had fast winding passages that intertwined beautifully with the Brass. The linear movement of the piece was constantly building, keeping me on the edge of my seat. The mixture of the two progressing parts created a magical cosmic effect that shone throughout the Concert Hall.

A selection from Shore’s Seven Pieces for Chamber Orchestra were played next. Emotive fluttering strings opened the performance with a constantly changing wind-like quality. Wicki looked like a wizard in front of the players, his baton like a wand steering the music down its mythical path. Regularly changing harmony and dissonance controlled long passages and created a prolonged sense of tension. Clara Sanabras hauntingly beautiful voice produced swelling and carefully controlled notes, and with her breathy tone, wowed the audience. The selection of pieces were dynamic and contrasting, showing us the wide spectrum of Shore’s compositional talents.

Shore frequently draws inspiration from nature and it is no surprise that Mythic Gardens was inspired by the architecture of three classic Italian Gardens. The soloist Emma-Jane Murphy (who has newly been appointed as Principal Cello for the RTÉ Concert Orchestra) came out in a stunning long red and orange dress. Emma’s talents shone in this work; her singing vibrato was absolutely outstanding and the skill in which she played the extremely fast and difficult parts was mesmerizing. The interaction and fluidity between orchestra and soloist were seamless; a carefully composed intricate musical jigsaw.

After the interval was the epic Lord of The Rings Symphony. With all of the ensembles present on stage, we were ready to begin our journey to middle earth. Although DIT’s Choral Society and Chamber choirs did not start out loud enough at the beginning (unfortunately effecting the balance of the work,) they soon came into their own and put on a great performance. The addition of RTÉ’s Cór na nÓg was a brilliant choice. The children’s choir brought a lovely tone to the performance and were extremely professional. The intensity of sound from the Orchestra was magnificent and all of the soloists involved put on a superb show. What is amazing about the Lord of The Rings Symphony is the organic morphing of very different themes and sounds. Anthemic and tenderly touching passages flow into each other so easily producing a constant change of emotions and musical scenery.

Following the Symphony Howard came on stage and graciously thanked every ensemble involved in the show, insisting on making sure that everyone had their moment. He even started taking out roses from his own bouquet and started giving them to members of the orchestra! It was an emotionally touching and special night in the National Concert Hall without a doubt, filled with wonderful, powerful music. It was brilliant to see a different side to Howard Shore as a composer, and explore more than just his film music.

Review by Ruth McGovern

Photos by Chris Charousset

 

Tudor Marian

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