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Classical Notes: March 26, 2006 Archive

Smeagol im Spiegel?

Posted at 2:56 AM on March 26, 2006 by Valerie Kahler (4 Comments)
Filed under: The blog

Saw an interesting piece in the Guardian tonight about the Toronto premiere of a new show, 4 years and 27 million dollars in the making - Lord of the Rings: The Musical.

Okay, I confess: ďThe MusicalĒ is NOT part of the official moniker. As a matter of fact, producer Kevin Wallace says the stage version of LotR is neither musical nor spectacle nor play. What then? Well, itís ALL of them. A hybrid, if you will.

Certainly thereís plenty of music to be found in the thousand or so pages of JRR Tolkienís Lord of the Rings trilogy. Someoneís always giving a lengthy history in verse or singing about a favorite pub or lamenting a lost comrade...but these are the parts I always skip when reading the books. I know I'm not alone in finding these the driest bits of those well-loved stories. How will they translate to the stage?

On another note, early previews hint thereís a problem with the length of the 3 Ĺ hour show - itís too short. One unnamed critic said that even filmmaker Peter Jackson needed nine hours to tell the story.

So what do you think? Can it fly?

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How best to cross over

Posted at 12:03 PM on March 26, 2006 by Don Lee (6 Comments)

Osmo Vanska conducted the Minnesota Orchestra this weekend in music by ABBA. Willingly. Eagerly, even, as he told MPRís Tom Crann Friday on All Things Considered.

Though I am not an ABBA fan, I love a lot of pop music and I think the classical field could profitably mine that territory more often than it does. Classical music doesnít have to be a thing apart from contemporary life, but to many people it seems that way. It may be a step in the right direction to perform straight-on orchestral arrangements of popular songs, as they did at Orchestra Hall this weekend. If nothing else, itís a way for Osmo Vanska to tell ABBA fans, ďSee, we donít bite.Ē

But the gap orchestras must bridge is more than a social one. They should also be sending a message to devotees of other musics that says, in effect, ďThe musical languages we speak arenít as different as you might think.Ē The first step there is up to composers. Iíd like to hear more of them extract raw materials from rock and create new musical substance, as Beethoven and Dvorak and Vaughan Williams did with folk music in centuries past. Like what Philip Glass did in the 1990s when he created his "Low" and "Heroes" symphonies based on music by David Bowie.

I know Glass isnít alone, but how much more is there where that came from? Not much that Iím aware of, but maybe I just havenít looked hard enough. If you can recommend any rock-classical crossovers that stand up as music you really like to sit down and listen to, Iíd love to hear about them.

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