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File photo of Ian McKellen in 'The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King'. Alamy Stock Photo
mordor most foul

Complaints over recent performance of Lord of the Rings music at Bord Gáis Energy Theatre

Some who saw the concert told The Journal that it was not of the quality they had expected.

A NUMBER OF people have complained about a concert inspired by The Lord of the Rings films that was performed in Dublin this week, which they said was not of the quality they had expected.

‘The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit – The Concert’, produced by Star Entertainment, was performed on Monday night at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre. 

Composer Howard Shore, who composed the scores for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film trilogies, is currently taking legal action to prevent similar unofficial concerts from taking place in the future. 

The show was billed as “a two-hour evening performance features original star guests and unique music” with music performed by The Orchestra and Choir of The Shire, which it states “has performed in the leading music halls in the world… and cooperates on this tour – despite the war – with a national Ukrainian State Orchestra: The Academic Khmelnitsky Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra”.

“The best music from the films in concert with a star guest, symphonic orchestra and choir / Oscar-winning music of Howard Shore, Annie Lennox, Enya, Ed Sheeran and the new Amazon series “The Rings of Power”!,” the description for the event reads.

A note included with the performance description reads: “The movie will not be shown at any point during this Concert. The Concert is purely based on the best songs and music from the Movie.”

A number of people have complained about the quality of the performance and said that they feel they were misled after seeing the show. 

Stephen Byrne told The Journal that he paid over €20 for his ticket, but that they ranged in price to up to €70. He claimed that having arrived for the show, it was 20 minutes late to start and there were only around 25 musicians on stage rather than a full orchestra of between 80 and 100 people.

“When it came on, the orchestra were sitting already and they looked very young, which is fine. They started playing bad CGI footage of something that should look like The Lord of the Rings, but wasn’t, because I guess they don’t have any rights for the real stuff.”

He said a voiceover then spoke, saying: ‘please rise for the national anthem of Mordor’, which was followed by the national anthem of Russia.

“I don’t think many people realised that that’s what it was. I think the orchestra were Ukrainian so they were kind of just making a point,” he said, adding that for him, it felt “tactless” and not related to the show that was advertised.

Byrne claimed that there clearly was not enough musicians to perform the songs, which should be played by a full orchestra.

“It sounded like there was a backing track that played on at the end before someone stopped playing, like the orchestra were trying to keep up with the backing track, because there wasn’t nearly enough people to make up for what should be the full film score.”

Sala Baker, an actor and stuntman from New Zealand who played the villain Sauron in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, hosted the show. Byrne claimed Baker “didn’t know the names of the songs” and “told stories that have nothing to do with The Lord of the Rings”. 

“Just before the intermission, these bagpipers came out with kilts and started doing something called jigs and reels, trying to get the audience to wave along with them and wave their phones, but people were just kind of sitting there dumbfounded. I don’t think that has anything to do with Howard Shore and Lord of the Rings.”

Byrne left at the intermission. He has contacted Bord Gáis about the performance and is seeking a refund for his ticket, adding that the performance was “nothing like what was advertised”.

“I guess obviously buyer beware. I should’ve done more research into the crowd, but I think the Bord Gáis has something to answer for. It would make me very cagy of going to another show in there just in case they are taking anyone on to put on a show and charging full price for it.”

Conor Power, who is doing a PhD on film music at Maynooth University, also attended the performance with a friend. He said that although he thought a lot of the audience seemed to enjoy it, this wasn’t the case for everyone there. 

“I’ve been to many film music performances and stuff like that, so I kind of know what the normal standard would be in concert halls and in the 3 Arena when they’ve played movies with the score and the standard pales in comparison to anything I’d seen before,” he told The Journal.

“It kind of felt like it was an amateur production that you’d get in your local stage school or a local theatre, not a touring concert that would be performed properly.

“The musicians were good, they obviously did the best that they could, but there were only about 20 to 25 musicians on stage and this music is meant to be played by 90-plus people, maybe even 100 people, and a choir and there were only five singers.

“The scale of everything was quite small and you couldn’t have the proper balance of sounds between different instruments. As well as that, the music just didn’t seem mic’d particularly well,” he said, adding that the sound mixing and the amplification of it seemed insufficient.

Power said the images used didn’t have the proper film logo or fonts, and that some of the songs were not properly titled.

“We both remarked that some of the pieces didn’t end properly as well. The performance just stopped playing sometimes and things didn’t conclude in a proper way. It just felt very strange.”

Both Byrne and Power said there was also clips shown of the actor Christopher Lee, who played Saruman in the film trilogies, before some of the songs were performed. Lee died in 2015. 

“They had clips of him that were poorly edited because they just kept cutting out every few minutes. You could tell he was saying something more and editing had cut around us,” Power said.

“They kind of made it sound like they were trying to tie him into introducing the songs or the pieces in some way, but he obviously died long before this tour even started. I really don’t know what the original source of that interview was with him.

“It just felt really poor taste because he’s such a celebrated actor.”

Power added that those who might have paid to see an orchestra for the first time may have been left disappointed.

“I feel like film music is a nice gateway for people who aren’t really into classical music at all, they mightn’t have even heard an orchestra before and that could be their first experience of a proper orchestra and they won’t know what it’s supposed to sound like.”

statement posted on Howard Shore’s official website reads: “We feel it is necessary to alert fans and followers of The Lord of the Rings in Concert that there are a number of concerts that have no association with Howard Shore in the UK and Germany being billed as “Der Herr der Ringe und der Hobbit” or “The Music of The Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit” produced by Star Entertainment.

“Please be warned, Howard Shore has nothing to do with these concerts. There is a current lawsuit in process to have the concerts stopped. The music that is being played is assembled from unauthorized… arrangements and not at the standard of quality insisted upon by Howard Shore.”

The statement reads that the “wonderful fans of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films deserve better than these subpar productions”, and includes a list of upcoming live performances that have been prepared by Shore himself.

When The Journal contacted Star Entertainment for comment, a spokesperson referred to an article in The Guardian which states that the concert was touring in the UK, but that key members were refused visas and could not travel to the UK to perform.

The Journal asked the spokesperson to clarify whether the orchestra experienced visa problems when travelling to Ireland. No response has been received by time of publication.

The Journal also contacted the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre for comment. No response has been received by time of publication. 

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