Live music as Two Towers screen

Live music as Two Towers screen
American composer-conductor Justin Freer.

SINGAPORE - A year after playing the music of film- maker Peter Jackson's first The Lord Of The Rings movie straight through in concerts, Singapore's independent Metropolitan Festival Orchestra is bringing you its sequel next month.

Under the baton of American composer- conductor Justin Freer, the 251 musicians will perform Howard Shore's entire soundtrack score of The Two Towers (2002), the second in the multiple- Oscar-winning film trilogy. The 180-minute movie will be projected simultaneously on a 15.3m by 6.47m screen at The Star Theatre.

In an e-mail interview, Los Angeles-based Freer, 34, says: "For me, the most astounding part of this show is the opportunity to truly realise the power and importance of what music does for film. Your body cannot feel this in a movie theatre or living room. If it were up to me, movies would be presented only this way around the world."

Calling The Lord Of The Rings world one of "immense colour, texture, rhythm and harmony", he praises the themes and motifs running through the score as "divine". The idea behind the project, he adds, is to capture as much of what was presented originally against the film as possible. The films were based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien.

The upcoming concerts - three shows over June 6 and 7 - will also feature American vocalist Rosalind Waters, the Vocal Associates Festival Chorus and Children's Choir, and boy soprano Samuel Yuen.

In June last year, the orchestra made its debut with a complete rendition of the soundtrack from The Fellowship Of The Ring (2011), the first film of the trilogy, also helmed by Freer.

"The musicians and staff were welcoming, professional and passionate last time around," recalls the conductor. "I am excited to be around that energy again."

More than 7,000 people attended the event last year - which comprised three concerts - and the reviews were mixed.

Writing in this newspaper, critic Albert Lin noted the musical was let down by a "distinctly off-key chorus" and that the absence of proper audio mixing resulted in the loss of much of the grandeur and awe of the work.

A primary challenge of adapting film music for the stage, Freer says, is the acoustics. The balances achieved in a recording stage are often not optimal for a live hall, so there is always "some adjusting to be made with each orchestra and each hall".

He added that the music of The Two Towers was never intended to be performed in full, synchronised to film.

"As such, putting all of the music together in one long symphonic setting presents the musicians with many obstacles to overcome, such as the volume at which to perform the music, and often very short breaks between cues," says Freer.

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