Concert Blog: Howard Shore: Point of View of a Legend

What do Mrs. Doubtfire, The Silence of the Lambs and The Lord of the Rings films all have in common?  Well, besides all being Hollywood blockbusters, they also share the musical talent of a legend, Oscar-winning composer Howard Shore.

Heinz Hall for the Performing Arts was the setting on Friday, June 24 where the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Ludwig Wicki, performed The Film Music of Howard Shore as part of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra PNC Pops series.

The first half of the concert featured the premiere of The Hobbit – Four Movements for the Symphony Orchestra which included a mezzo-soprano and two bag pipers.  The music was everything you would expect from The Hobbit,
a dramatic adventure that included a little bit of mystery and a lot of excitement.

After intermission, the symphony returned to the stage with the addition of a small black table and two chairs.  Following a performance of  The Fly, the audience welcomed to the stage Howard Shore and interviewer Jon Burlingame.   Shore discussed his early beginnings in film, that began in the summer while he was still working in television as the musical director of Saturday Night Live.  He also discussed his work with director David Cronenberg, and the symphony followed with songs from two Cronenberg movies:  Dead Ringers and Naked Lunch, which featured the talented saxophonist Terry Steele.  After another discussion, the symphony performed music from three other movies, Big, described by Shore as a big Hollywood romance, Mrs. Doubtfire and Ed Wood.  Ed Wood featured guest Lydia Kavina who played the theremin, a unique electronic instrument that is controlled without physical contact, thus giving it a unique and mystifying sound.  It was fascinating to watch Kavina, and even more so to watch Shore, (who had discovered Kavina,) watch her with pride and admiration.  The concert continued with music from two darker films, The Silence of the Lambs and Se7en, three Martin Scorsese films, Hugo, Gangs of New York (featuring soprano Eva Rainforth) and The Aviator, and concluded with music from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (The Lighting of the Beacons) and The Fellowship of the Ring (Symphonic Suite,) that featured soprano Maksim Shcherbatyuk.

During one of the discussions Shore noted that “Film music is quite often point of view,” and continued about how the music can vary based on which character’s point of view it has taken.  It was such a pleasure to hear the sounds of our talented Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and with the point of view and vision of a such a legendary composer.



1 Comment

  • John Zimnie
    Posted June 26, 2016

    Saturday’s performance was the first time I, an out of town visitor, ever heard the PSO “live”. The reputation of the orchestra was a major reason why I added this concert to my visit. The first part of the program was greatly distorted by the overwhelming brass choir, especially the five trumpets that blasted the rest of the orchestra out of the water. Was the truly harsh sound of the high brass a result of simply too many players or is the PSO in the habit of amplifying their live concerts? I have attended scores of live symphonic in-door concerts, this is the first time it sounded like an orchestra had chosen to amplify its sound… much to the music’s detriment.

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