A world-first concerto, dramatic film scores and an on-stage appearance from Danny Elfman – Movie Legends performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra was a true delight.
The first half of Movie Legends saw the London Philharmonic Orchestra performing the score of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, in its entirety. Conducted by Ludwig Wicki and featuring accompaniment from soprano Grace Davidson and the London Philharmonic Choir, the performance was enchanting. Through tranquil tin whistles and a thundering brass section, the audience was transported on a journey to middle earth.
One of today’s premier composers, Howard Shore produced the musical interpretation for J RR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit. Tolkien was a keen environmentalist, taking much inspiration for his work from nature – something Shore also relates to, “the connection to nature is very important to me, and I think that was also the connection to Tolkien’s work. I know how important that was to Tolkien and his writing: everything that was green and good”. The industrialisation and deforestation which Tolkien protested is hightlighted throughout Shore’s score with the innovative use of materials to create mechanical sounds – most notably, striking piano strings with heavy metal chains.
Following a short interval, we were reimmersed in musical storytelling with three shorter performances of Danny Elfman’s work – a new concerto, the Batman Suite and the Alice in Wonderland Suite.
One particularly special moment was witnessing the world premiere of Danny Elfman’s Percussion Concerto. The audience were captivated by Colin Currie’s every move as he performed the piece. Darting across the stage between instruments, Currie is a true showman. Of the new work, Elfman said ‘my greatest pleasure is when I can surprise the audience with my music’ and that he did. Although the piece was filled with Elfman’s signature glockenspiels, xylophones and jouncy rhythms, there were also a lot of new, experimental sounds. During one movement, Currie even bows the side of a xylophone, creating a deep underlying humming.
The London Philharmonic Orchestra were perfectly rehearsed, with every strike of a drum and turn of a page they moved together like a shoal of fish. Watching them perform these popular movie scores was an incredibly accessible and entertaining way to experience classical music – a perfect introduction.
Photography by Michael Marais.
Movie Legends was part of the Spring/Summer classical music programme that runs through until June 2022 at the Southbank Centre. There are several performances to choose from and Southbank Centre even offers a multi-buy discount, tickets are available to purchase here.
Reviewed by Amy Melling – Amy is a Curator and Creative Producer whose practice is centred around community-led arts projects. Her current research is focused on curatorial methods for exhibiting artworks outside. Amy has a keen interest in the arts and recently completed an MA in Curating and Collections at Chelsea College of Arts, UAL.