The Music of The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and The Rings of Power

The Sunk Cost Fallacy says that no matter how much money or effect you’ve put into an activity, then sticking with it is a mistake if a alternative exists. After last night’s disappointing Harry Potter concert I thought I knew what I was getting into and that I might as well go instead of staying at home.

My expectations were low, but it couldn’t get worse, right?


Okay, there were changes from last night. The orchestra had found a tympani. It doesn’t mean they used it, but they’d found one at least. Bubbly blonde bob host Julie (Weber?) was relegated to singing and replaced by a male host. No, not young Gollum, but New Zealand actor William Kircher who played dwarf Bifur in The Hobbit.

We all remember Bifur right? Tom the Troll?

Well, William Kircher can certainly overact, I’ll give him that. A method actor, if your method is to shout a lot but not like Al Pacino.

William Kircher and Alexander Steinlitz

When the orchestra is ready (they’re Polish by the way), we are requested to stand for the Mordor National Anthem. The near capacity crowd of almost 2,500 does what they are told. Except for me.

Seriously, what the? I haven’t watched The Rings of Power. Is this one of Bear McCreary’s compositions?

No, it’s by some group called the Neon Philharmonic Orchestra from 1969.

Never heard of them? It won’t be the last song like that.

The music choices are baffling. The six movies and one television series have a lot of music. But there are some pieces that just stand out. The White Tree, the Uruk-Hai, The Riders of Rohan, The Journey Begins and many more.

Did we hear them?


An orchestra

Instead there is a weird mishmash of incidental music by Howard Shore and possibly Bear McCreary and songs by the Danish Tolkien Ensemble that nobody has heard of. Sometimes the sections of the orchestra seemed out of tune or synch, other times there were wrong notes and everything was again piped through the too-loud speakers.

At one point Kircher stops to praise Howard Shore for his music to the series. And straight after that the orchestra launches into music he didn’t compose. I read that Shore wants to shut them down from performing him.

There were vocal performances from the movies as well. A couple of the singers, Yvgenia and Yolanda (I think) were obviously classically trained and did a fair job, but we also had Julie pretending to be Ed Sheeran, Enya and Annie Lennox while approximating none of them. They all combined for an awfully over the top performance of Billy Boyle’s The Last Goodbye to end the concert.

Singers in front of an orchestra

Or that’s what we thought. Because there was something even more bizarre. A couple of times The KingsPipers, a trio of Germans wearing kilts, two with bagpipes, were brought out with the orchestra playing who knows what in order to enliven the proceedings. The KingsPipers look more like black eyeliner heavy metal dudes than Scotsmen. They got the audience clapping and waving but they were so loud that migraines were guaranteed.

The King's Pipers. Bagpipes and drums.

And they went on and on and on.

So yes, I think there was something better that I could have been doing on this Sunday afternoon. Maybe rearranging my sock drawer.

But no, it still wasn’t over. They saved one last very special inexplicable thing for the very end. Prefacing the performance was an aspect ratio squashed video of the late great Christopher Lee (Saruman) introducing the music of Lord of the Rings. He popped up a couple of times to comment on something in the story.

Projection of Christopher Lee.

As we stand to leave the theatre Lee’s face appears one last time.

“May the Force be with you.”

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