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February 12, 2009

The score can be troublesome even for a professional choir

The National (United Arab Emirates):

There is a strange guttural glugging filling the deserted lobby of the British School al Khubairat. Upstairs, inside the starkly-lit auditorium, a less than ordinary choir practice is taking place. A small group of middle-aged men are making a brave attempt at their Middle Earth vowels. “You are not nice gentlemen,” says the German conductor Tobias Leppert. “You are evil Orcs!”

It’s the final week of rehearsals for The Lord of the Rings Symphony. As the performance at the Emirates Palace inches closer, Leppert helps put the final touches to the choir’s performance of Howard Shore’s sprawling work. The score was originally written for the movie trilogy, but Shore has adapted it into a six-movement symphony for the stage that has been performed all over the world.

The music, written to evoke the thrilling vistas and epic drama in the books and films as well as the various civilisations of the author JRR Tolkien’s Middle Earth, poses several challenges. The styles jostle amid nine-part harmonies and complex vocal rhythms that are troublesome even for a professional choir. For tomorrow’s performance, amateur choirs from Abu Dhabi will be joined by the Orpheus Choir from Sofia, Bulgaria, and the German Radio Philharmonic.

The music is only half the battle: the lyrics are in Adûnaic, Black Speech, Khuzdûl, Quenya, Rohhiric and Sindarin – languages Tolkien created for the Hobbits, elves, Orcs, dwarfs and Men of Rohan who populated Middle Earth.

“It has certainly been challenging for the children,” says Marianne Black, the director of the Al Khubairat Primary choir and the Abu Dhabi Chamber Choir. In fact, Shore included a simpler score for children in order to produce the ethereal sound for the symphony’s recurring ring theme and for Gollum’s Song.

A harsh, guttural grunting starts from a small group in the back row: “ur-us buz-ra, ur-us ni nuz-ra, lu lu lu lu” chant the men. Despite having no idea what they’re saying, their meaning is unmistakable: the orcs mean business. Read more.

Posted by acapnews at February 12, 2009 9:25 PM

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