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May 13, 2003 - May 22, 2003

5-22-03 Latest News

Hall Of Fire Chats This Weekend
Frode @ 7:01 pm EST

The valar, the angelic powers of the world who entered Ea to fulfill the vision of Illuvatar. There they made the lands, the seas and the stars. They made the sun and the moon, and fought Melkor for the mastery of the earth. And above all; they made the lands habitable for the children of Illuvatar. But with the coming of elves and men their guardianship was wrought with troubles, and their actions were often strangely inadequate and unperceptive.

We will take a closer look at why the valar understood the elves but a little, and men not at all, and how this led them to make truly disastrous decissions. The mighty vala Ulmo was however often opposed to Manwes strategies and together with Mandos he showed great foresight and wisdom in his dealings with the children.

Where did the valar make their worst mistakes, and what was their greatest successes? How did their strategies change over time and who do you think did the most to aid elves and men in their wars with the dark powers? Why did the valar lay down their guardianship when the numenoreans attacked Valinor?

We will also debate the events leading up to the dispatchment of the istari to middle earth, and explore the links between the wizards and specific valar.

Join us in #thehalloffire as we try to decide whether the valar were wise councels or strategic dimwits.

Suggested reading:
The Silmarillion - Ainulindale, Valaquenta and chapters 1,2,3,6,8,11, and 24
Unfinished tales - The Istari
Morgoths ring - Of the coming of the elves

Upcoming discussions:
May 31/April 1
Return of the King Book V, Chapter 8 - The Houses of Healing

Saturday Chat:
5:30pm ET (17:30)
[also 11:30pm (23:30) CET and 7:30am Sunday (07:30) AET]

Sunday Chat:
7:00 pm (19:00) CET
[also 1:00pm (13:00) ET and 3:00am (03:00) Monday morning AET]

ET = Eastern Time, USA's East Coast
CET = Central European Time, Central Europe
AET = Australian East Coast

Do you have a possible topic for Hall of Fire? Drop us a line at halloffire@theonering.net.

5-21-03 Latest News

ROTK To Open With Big Bang In Denmark
Xoanon @ 10:48 am EST

Translated for us by Thorbjørn Hein: On Sunday December 14, when Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King has its galla premiere, the event won´t take place at Imperial (the biggest movie theatre in Denmark) as it usually does. Instead, the galla is taking place in Tivoli (the well-known, 160-years old amusement park/garden in central Copenhagen)!

SF Film (distributor of the films in Scandinavia) today informs that the galla premiere of the third and last Lord of the Rings movies will take place in the Tivoli Concert Hall on December 14.

Traditionally, it is the Imperial Theatre that is opening its doors at the huge galla events in Denmark, but SF Film wished to round off the succesful Lord of the Rings movies in a magnificent way in the old garden in the the heart of Copenhagen.

Of course the last film has to be ended with a big bang. The coorperation with Tivoli, Inc. gives us a wholly unique opportunity to arrange a really special galla premiere, which could easily become the biggest film event in Denmark ever. Besides the movie being shown in the Tivoli Concert Hall, which can hold 1300 invited guests, the garden itself will be transformed into a wondrous Lord of the Rings universe, accessible for fans and other guests in Tivoli, says Michael Fleischer, CEO at SF Film.

For the third year in a row the entire galla premiere profit goes uncut to the Danish Red Cross.

The Lord of the Rings. The Return of the King premieres for us common mortals on Wednesday December 17.

5-18-03 Latest News

High School performs Shore Score
Calisuri @ 3:11 pm EST

ATTENTION MILWAUKEE/NORTH SHORE ringers. Here is a heads up from Ringer L:

I just wanted to let the people at TORn know that on May 20th, at 8:00 pm, the Nicolet High School Knights Orchestra will be performing their last concert. The second to last song at this concert will be a medley of Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring songs by Howard Shore, which include: The Prophecy, Concerning Hobbits, A Knife in the Dark, and The Breaking of the Fellowship. I bought the Full Orchestra score, and convinced my teacher that we NEEDED to play it! If you could just let the Milwaukee/North Shore Ringers know that this concert is going on, that would be awesome. I know it is short notice, but I just had the idea of e-mailing you guys as of today. The address is: Nicolet High School, 6701 North Jean Nicolet Road Glendale, Wisconsin 53217

SFX Magazine Awards Report
Calisuri @ 2:41 pm EST

Ringer Irascian sends in this report from the May 17th SFX Magazine Awards ceremony:

SFX magazine, the UK's biggest selling science fiction/fantasy monthly magazine, held its award ceremony last night (17th May) and Lord of the Rings swept the boards. The awards are based on reader votes. Here's what LOTR won...

Lord of the Rings:The Two Towers - Best SF or Fantasy Film (other nominations: Donnie Darko, Attack of the Clones, Spider-Man and Minority Report)

Viggo Mortensen - Best SF or Fantasy Film Actor (other nominees: Elijah, McKellen, Tom Cruise and Toby Maguire)

Peter Jackson - Best SF or Fantasy Film Director (other nominees: M Night Shyamalan, George Lucas, Sam Raimi and Steven Spielberg)

The Two Towers by Howard Shore - best SF or Fantasy Film Music (beating Donnie Darko, Attack of the Clones and Spider-Man)

The Official Guide to The Making of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy by Brian Sibley - Best SF or Fantasy-Related Non-Fiction Book (other nominees were for Farscape Companion, Once More With Feeling, James Bond The Legacy and Angel Casefiles)

Lifetime achievement awards went to Christopher Lee and James Doohan (Scottie in Star Trek).

The awards that LOTR was nominated for but didn't win were Best SF or Fantasy Actress (both Liv Tyler and Miranda Otto were nominated) and Best SF or Fantasy Author (where J.R.R. Tolkien was, rather bizarrely given the way the movies swept the awards, beaten by Terry Pratchett !).

There were unfortunately some disappointments for LOTR fans who attended this event hoping to see their favourite celebrities. Brian Sibley was the only award recipient who appeared on the night. Christopher Lee who had been expected to appear to accept his lifetime achievement award, and Billy Boyd, who had been scheduled to collect the other LOTR awards, were both "no show"s. And a video acceptance speech from Howard Shore couldn't be shown to the assembled audience because of a breakdown in the awards video equipment.

Thanks to Irascian for the report! Check out more of Irascian's LOTR website at http://www.iansmith.co.uk/lotr/index.htm

5-16-03 Latest News

Hall Of Fire Chats This Weekend
Frode @ 7:29 pm EST

Fearing for what Denethor will do in his madness, Pippin has searched out Gandalf at the gates of Minas Tirith. At the turn of the tide, Gandalf must leave the battle and go to the citadel to face the steward of Gondor. Meanwhile in the Tombs, Beregond is fighting Denethors servants over the life of Faramir.

How has the use of the palantir poisoned the stewards mind? How does Gandalf try to win Denethor back to reality? What do you think about Denethors end?

Loyalty and obedience to authority are highly valued virtues in The Lord of the Rings, but in this chapter Tolkien shows us how bad blind uncritical obedience can be. How do you compare Beregonds acts with those of Denethors personal servants? And what about the murder of the porter, can that be justified?

Join us in #thehalloffire as we take a look at Return of the King book V, Chapter VII – The Pyre of Denethor.

Saturday Chat:
5:30pm ET (17:30)
[also 11:30pm (23:30) CET and 7:30am Sunday (07:30) AET]

Sunday Chat:
7:00 pm (19:00) CET
[also 1:00pm (13:00) ET and 3:00am (03:00) Monday morning AET]

ET = Eastern Time, USA's East Coast
CET = Central European Time, Central Europe
AET = Australian East Coast

Do you have a possible topic for Hall of Fire? Drop us a line at halloffire@theonering.net.

5-15-03 Latest News

Review: Lord of the Rings Audiobook
Tehanu @ 6:26 pm EST

Review of J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings (FOTR, TTT and ROTK) Audiobook on CD

Narrated by Rob Inglis

Complete Unabridged Trilogy of LOTR, total hours 52, 46 CDs

Produced in 1990 by Recorded Books TM

Reviewed by Jan.

I had originally asked the folks at TORN if they could let me know if they had reviewed any audio book versions of the Mr. Tolkien's books and, if so, what were their thoughts of it. As they had no review on file, they asked me to put one together. I presume my overall enthusiasm for the audio book kind of came oozing out.

To be honest, I found many more articulate and profound "customer" reviews at the Amazon.ca site where I purchased my audio book. These reviews were instrumental in my decision to spend my hard earned money on what some would assume is a frivolous gift to myself. The overall deciding factor was the fact that this a completely unabridged version.

In a word, Rob Inglis's narration of LOTR is amazing. And I will make a feeble attempt to describe it. The most interesting thing I found was that when listening to Rob Inglis, it is surprising to find how many different "voices" he can come up with to distinguish all the characters and how eerily similar they are to the characters in the movie version. But, they are not acted up so much that one would find it "corny", but only just enough to keep your interest.. Even a lowly guard or hobbit in the shire is given enough of a different accent or inflection in the voice to make it unique from all the others. When not in character, his narrative voice is strangely similar to Mr. Tolkien himself. He has a wonderful way of letting you know how much he embraced this story as his own and wanted to share it with everyone.

Rob Inglis does so much more than just narrate, he sings the songs, recites the poetry, races along with the action and does a Gollum voice that makes your skin crawl (as it should). The orcs are putrid, and Frodo and Sam are more and more pitiful the closer they get to Mordor. He makes you feel their pain and fatigue all along their arduous trek. Tom Bombadil just skips along as he likes and Treebeard goes on and on forever. To summarize, I found the all characters are as you would imagine with only as much exaggeration as required to make them believable. Where Mr. Tolkien does not care to use contractions in his writings, Mr. Inglis doesn't mind substituting them in the readings. I would not have noticed except when reading and listening at the same time.

If I had to choose my favorite from the original books, the movies or the audio book, of course I would choose the original books, but having read, listened or watched all three many times I really have no favorite. They all have their own redeeming qualities, depending on ones mood or preference and shouldn't really be compared (or scrutinized) so closely as to take away from one or the other, but be enjoyed for exactly what they are. They are simply their own versions of a classic and should be treasured accordingly. In retrospect, I would never have read the books if I had not seen the movie first. The movie version gave me the visual I needed to wrap myself up in the books and the audio version takes me deeper into the books than my imagination could ever have done. Thank you Mr. Tolkien, Mr. Jackson and Mr. Inglis for taking me along for the ride, I am enjoying it each and every time.


I have only recently received my copy of The Hobbit Audiobook on CD and only listened to it quickly once, but because it is produced by the same company, unabridged and narrated by Rob Inglis, I do not hesitate to recommend it also.

5-14-03 Latest News

Italian Tolkien Fans Unite!
Xoanon @ 1:05 pm EST

Oronzo Cilli from the Italian Tolkien Society writes:

The Italian Tolkien Society is organizing a series of events aimed at arousing italian fans' interest as well as foregneirs'one all over the world. On 24th of april, the ambassador of New Zealand in Italy, Peter Bennett, met in Rome the President of the Italian Tolkien Society, Paolo Paron, together with the ITS Manager of Foreign Relations Oronzo Cilli, and the Cultural Executive of the Embassy of New Zealand, Angela Giovanardi. This meeting gave birth to some important initiatives.

'The Embassy of New Zealand will back any suggestion by the Italian Tolkien Society about the promotion of Tolkien and New Zealand', said Bennett. The most attractive among these initiatives is the planning of a two weeks journey in New Zealand at low prices on february 2004, with the collaboration of the travel agency 'Nuova Zelanda Viaggi' of Rome. For the trip, the ITS is trying to get the support of several italian institutions. The departure is scheduled from Rome, with stops in some other european countries in order to enable foreign Tolkien fans as well to join our journey. The package will include the return flight, board and lodging, as well as guided tours to LOTR sets.

Besides, the Embassy of N.Z. in Italy will sustain some it's initiatives, such as 'Verso la Contea' in Trani and the 10th 'Hobbiton' in Udine and both of them will be honoured by the presence of the Ambassador. Cultural exchanges will be also possible between New Zealand and italian young people as well as a twinning with the New Zealand Tolkien Society.

Moreover, the Italian Tolkien Society is organizing an outstanding exhibition for 2004 in Brussels, for the fiftieth anniversary of the publishing of the two first books of LOTR, in collaboration with the english Tolkien Society and with the involvement of the other european Tolkien Societies. An entire week will be devoted exclusively to the great english writer, hoping that one of Tolkien¹s sons will join some of the scheduled initiatives. The event will be introduced at the European Parliament of Brussels, as occurred this year in march for the celebration 'Verso la Contea'.

For further information about these initiatives and to join the trip, please contact the promoter Oronzo Cilli at his mail address: tolkien@email.it

Peter Jackson and King Kong: Onfilm NZ
Tehanu @ 5:15 am EST

New Zealand's Onfilm magazine has an interview with PJ about "King Kong" - I'll just report the interesting things it covered.

"No film as captivated my imagination more than King Kong....I'm making movies today because I saw this film when I was nine years old. It has been my sustained dream to re-interpret this classic story for a nwe age.

As in LOTR, Peter and Fran will be joined by Philippa Boyens on the screenplay. "We can do a complete rewrite. Now that Philippa has joined the team, it's a chance to start over," said Jackson. When he and Fran finished the first script in 1996, he said, "The basic storyline will be very similar but the scenes, the sequences and the detail will be very different." Now he finds he doesn't like "the flip, smart-arsed tone of our old script. We are better writers ow than we were in 1996. This new version will be based on the 1933 movie, but not on our 1996 script. This movie will be so much better than the 1996 film would have been. In hindsight, fate has been kind to us."

Jackson also commented that more of the film- about two thirds - will be set on Skull Island, as compared to previous versions.
He has always said that he didn't want to make a "colourised version" of the original. That is to my mind rather like his approach to making LOTR - he evidently never intended to make a "visual xerox" of the book.

5-13-03 Latest News

'At Dawn in Rivendell' Review
Xoanon @ 10:51 pm EST

Michael Cunningham from the Tolkien Society (UK) sends along this review of 'At Dawn in Rivendell' featuring Christopher Lee (Saruman).

[Vitsit tolkienensemble.com]

Amidst the respective wakes of commercial flotsam and heated discourse which marked the paths left by Peter Jackson's cinematically interpretative forays into Middle Earth rises the latest release from the Tolkien Ensemble. Entitled 'At Dawn in Rivendell' this release is the penultimate installation of a tetrad of works by the Ensemble which began in 1995 with ' An Evening in Rivendell', followed with ' A Night in Rivendell' in 2000. The extant works saw fruition through the musical alliance of Caspar Reiff and Peter Hall. Both composers and performers are joined on this release by Christopher Lee, The Copenhagen Chamber Choir Camerata, Copenhagen Young Strings as well as a number of soloists who contribute to the realization of this juncture in the Rivendell series of recordings.

To the CD itself. Opening with a spoken word piece delivered by the distinctive tones of Christopher Lee, the prefatory 'Verse of the Rings', which is the Ring count; 'Three rings for the Elven-Kings...'. Lee performs several other spoken-word pieces throughout the CD such as 'Warning of Winter', 'Boromir's Riddle' and the 'Riddle of Strider'. I feel Lee's voice works in delivering such in somewhat dry tones which do well in summoning an air of inevitability. This is evident on 'Malbeth the Seer's Words' where the Copenhagen Young Strings provide a precursory canvas upon which foreboding washes before drifting up to catch Lee's words towards the end of the piece; words which carry the listener to the '...Paths of the Dead.' 'Song of Gondor' presents a solemn nobility of strings sweeping upwards towards a baritone, almost plaintive delivery of the prose. Companion to this mood may be the track ' Éomer's Song', both pieces elicit, I feel, echoes of such Old English works as The Ruin and The Wanderer and, especially with 'Éomer's Song', The Battle of Maldon where Byrhtnoth characterised the old northern spirit in the face of inexorable doom. A cry for the heroic past to return and the encroaching dark fog to lift.

Amongst such pieces one finds 'relief' in the guise of 'A Walking Song', 'A Drinking Song' and ' A Bath Song', each self-descriptive and bathed in a canvas of capering melodies and good interplay of vocals that will surely tempt the hairiest of feet to get a tapping. These compositions are enjoyable and the employment of instruments such as doublebass and mandolin add to the atmosphere each track stirs. Here the juxtaposition of diverging musical flavours throughout the CD capture, I feel, the merging of chronological horizons, from the equine tramp of the Riddermark to the waistcoated bowels of Bag-End, which draped events in the narrative in a kaleidoscope of variation and vibrancy.

Within 'The Long List of the Ents' and 'Treebeard's Song' Lee again features. This time Lee narrates as Treebeard latterly projecting his bass tones, accompanied by the orchestral solo of Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen. Is the voice convincingly Entish? Well I'd submit that's a matter of perspective, certainly time constraints may compress the natural norms of Middle Earth in respect of this particular medium. Otherwise it serves to evoke the age-knotted Treebeard to good effect. Twenty pieces comprise the CD and the final of these is the 'Elven Hymn to Elbereth Gilthoniel' now, one is no-doubt familiar with the portrayal of Elven song in pats mediums of the like and often such, I feel, are all too diaphanous, failing to give breath to the race they seek to animate. However I can quite honestly say that I found the Ensemble's piece to work as it were. The piece seems more fleshed and, indeed, professional while maintaining its vision thereby producing an almost fey quality without subverting to the familiar commercial cloak worn by Clannad-type artists. No, this piece worked to set itself apart from the previous pieces, therein its landscape unfolded and wove together with the mezzo-soprano of Signe Asmussen accompanied by the gentle waterfall of an Irish harp.

One aspect this CD drew out for me was the recognition of the rich vein of oral tradition infused throughout Tolkien's work, a passive undercurrent to the tidal flow of the main narrative. Tolkien's prose, I feel, embodied not only his relationship with 'Lit and Lang' but also of that northern heroic spirit, imagined or otherwise, that gradually ebbed as wood fell and choking edifices rose heralding the passing of something momentary and now rarely glimpsed or evoked. I approached this CD with a fresh ear and I was delighted not only with the musical interpretations therein but also the care taken with the booklet to reproduce the respective prose and the illustrations of Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, whose enthusiasm for Tolkien's works resulted in the Danish translation of the Lord of the Rings. Tolkien was also familiar with the Queen's pictorial interpretations of his works. For me this series is singular in a sense as it avoids the pitfalls of 'cinematic scores' and, through artists more than familiar with Tolkien's works, it instead delivers a lively interpretation that, in part, fleshing aspects of Tolkien's works personal to the listener in a less intrusive manner than cinematic reproduction. This CD will certainly continue to reward the listener on each play.

What follows is a brief interview with Caspar Reiff

Tolkien Society: What aspects drew you to Tolkien's prose and indeed narrative through to the subsequent interpretation of same through the Tolkien Ensemble?

Caspar Reiff: The first time I read The Lord of the Rings was in 1990. I was 19 years old and like so many other readers absolutely amazed with the quality of the book. I read it in the Danish translation (by Ida Nyrup Ludvigsen) wich is very good except from the translation of the poems that loses a lot of the lyric strength in the translation.

After reading the book 2 or 3 times in Danish I decided to try to read it in the original language and that was the first time I discovered the poems as being more than a curious nuisance, but indeed another wonderful aspect of Tolkien's masterpiece.

Throughout The Lord of the Rings Tolkien describes several of the poems as songs and as a musician the obvious question was: What does the music and songs of Middle-earth sound like? I really had to find out...

TS: How did you and your fellow composer(s) approach the project? Was the overall goal clear at an early stage?

CR: The overall goal of the project was clear in 1996.

First of all I wanted to be make a complete musical interpretation of the about 70 poems from The Lord of the Rings. Secondly the music and the concept should be "in the spirit" of Tolkien's work by using acoustic instruments and professionally trained musicians.

Thirdly the soloists should fit the specific characters of The Lord of the Rings, one soloist could have a maximum of three roles, and those roles should in some way be connected with regard to race and musical tradition (like Peter Hall: Frodo, Sam and Tom Bombadil or Morten Ernst Lassen: Aragorn and Éomer). One soloist doing both elves and humans or dwarves and hobbits should be avoided.

The music should fit the various races of Middle-earth using folkmusic for the hobbits, the classical Liedgenre/choral music to the humans and a more ethereal mixture between the two for the elves. The more strange characters like Gollum and Treebeard should be treated individually. The overall music tone should be based on the British/Nordic classical- and folkmusic traditions.

One other very important part of the concept was to compose music that varied from the very intimate single voice or just singer/guitar or singer/piano over different chambermusic constellations to large orchestral and choir pieces. At quite a lot of places in The Lord of the Rings Tolkien gives hints to the musical instrumentation of specific poems. Those hits should obviously be respected i.e. using a harp if a harp is mentioned (like in Galadriel's Song of Eldamar, "I sang of leaves...")

Furthermore we should try to use as few technical options and cuttings in the editing of the recordings as possible. Not all, but quite a lot of the songs, are recorded "live" in the studio in "one take" and the use of more than three or four cuts in a song are very rare in the production.

Finally the titles of the songs should be taken from "Index I Songs and Verses" from The Lord of the Rings.

TS: Where there any problems in relation to particular prose pieces and their musical realization?

CR: The poems of The Lord of the Rings has a great span from the very short ones to poems spanning over three full pages in the book, with different styles like The Eagle's Song: "Sing now, ye people of the Tower of Arnor...", over Song of Eärendil: "Eärendil was a mariner" to A Drinking Song: "Ho! Ho! Ho! to the bottle I go...".

One of the first things I discovered when I started the project was that it would be absolutely impossible for me to do all the music myself, at least in a convincing way. Fortunately my friend Peter Hall was able to help me, mainly with the folkbased music. Peter Hall has a vast knowledge of different kinds of folkmusic covering the British/Irish/Nordic traditions and instruments and as a classically trained musician (London College of Music) he knows the classical music as well. This was a very important thing for the project.

On two poems we cooperated with other composers i.e. Song of Beren and Lúthien (Anker Askov made the piano arrangement) and Song of Nimrodel (Kristian Buhl Mortensen made the arrangement for lute).

TS: Now with the third phase complete, looking back, do you feel you have so far achieved your desires within the context of the CD's?

CR: Yes, I certainly do.

TS: What type of feedback have you received regarding the series?

CR: We have been very fortunate to get a lot of very positive reviews on all three albums An Evening in Rivendell, A Night in Rivendell and At Dawn in Rivendell and we have received a lot of letters and mails from all over the world from people appreciating our work.

A couple of years ago I received a letter from a person in America who told me that his daughters rat, called Arwen, was buried in the family's garden - to the music of my version of Galadriel's Song of Eldamar...

TS: What can we expect with the last instalment in the series?

CR: The fourth and final CD will be titled: "Leaving Rivendell". There will be new soloists covering the roles of Gimli and the ent Bregalad and Christopher Lee will have a leading role on the CD as well.

But, as Gandalf says: "Many folk like to know beforehand what is to be set on the table; but those who have laboured to prepare the feast like to keep their secret; for wonder makes the words of praise louder."...

TS: After completion of the series what direction will you take the Tolkien Ensemble or is its being purely for the works of Tolkien?

CR: The Tolkien Ensemble is devoted to Tolkien's works. After the completion of the musical interpretation of the poems of The Lord of the Rings, Peter Hall and I will start to work on the poems of The Hobbit and The Silmarillion. Apart from that Peter Hall are at the moment working on creating a full music version of The Adventures of Tom Bombadil.

So we have still a lot of work to do to complete the task, and afterwards I hope we will be able to keep the ensemble together, playing the songs in live concerts .

TS: Would you ever consider interpreting the prose of the Old Norse sagas in the same manner?

CR: I have never thought of that...

TS: Thank you for your time and I wish you well with your future projects.

Michael Cunningham

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