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About this Piece

Academy Award®-winning composer Howard Shore (b. 1947) has written original music for more than 60 feature films during his career. His scores include The Silence of the Lambs and Philadelphia, from director Jonathan Demme, Ed Wood from Tim Burton, After Hours from Martin Scorsese, and the films Se7en and Panic Room from director David Fincher. In his long-standing collaboration with director David Cronenberg, Shore has penned daring, and vastly disparate film scores to The Brood (1979), Scanners (1980), Videodrome (1983), The Fly (1986), Dead Ringers (1989), Naked Lunch (1990), M. Butterfly (1993), Crash (1996), eXistenZ (1999), and Spider (2002).

This year, his epic score for Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring™ has earned Shore several awards as well as the Oscar®, including Best Score of the Year from the Los Angeles, Chicago, and Broadcast Film Critics Associations and nominations from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, American Film Institute, and British Academy of Film & Television Arts. "The three-hour film of Tolkien's first Rings novel contains 2 1/2 hours of music, by far the longest and most complex project in Shore's 20-plus years in movies. It's also one of the most ambitious film scores in recent years, encompassing at least a dozen themes and sub-themes," wrote Jon Burlingame in the Los Angeles Times.

The music of Howard Shore has been performed at the Seville Film Music Festival in Seville, Spain, Cinesonic's 1st International Conference on Film Scores and Sound Design in Melbourne, Australia, and The Crash Concert at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, Canada. "Naked Lunch Live to Projection," a concert of his original score to David Cronenberg's Naked Lunch, has been performed as part of the Belfast Festival at Queens, in Belfast, Ireland, featuring Ornette Coleman, and with the BBC Concert Orchestra at the Barbican Centre in London as part of the performance series Only Connect: A Series of Extraordinary Live Events. In October 2001, the Australian Arts Orchestra performed the premiere of Shore's commissioned work, Orbit, as part of the 2001 Melbourne Festival in Australia.

The Fellowship of the Ring™, like the film from which it was drawn, is the first part of a triptych. It is a two-movement symphonic work, which will eventually become part of a larger six-movement work based on Shore's scores for all three Lord of the Rings™ films. The Fellowship of the Ring™ is scored for a large orchestra - rich in exotic percussion - and two choruses. Most of the vocal texts are in the languages of Middle-earth created by J.R.R. Tolkien.

"I've always been a huge opera fan," Shore says. "I looked at it as more of a historical piece, and I found myself doing research that took me back to the beginnings of music and notation."

"Howard is telling an epic story in symphonic terms," says conductor John Mauceri, who proposed the idea of this grand symphonic interpretation of Shore's music for The Lord of the Rings™. "It's contemporary film music done with incredible depth of feeling and knowledge. Howard is meeting a very, very difficult challenge. Middle-earth is something like 7,000 years old, and to create music that has the feel of antiquity but is far more than historical is extremely difficult. That's what Howard succeeds in doing."

Shore does it by creating his own archetypes, a coherent and evocative soundworld that is consistently imagined in color and texture as well as melody, harmony, and rhythm. Voices are at the center of this world, but, like the ring of power, one voice rules them all - that of composer Howard Shore.

-- John Henken