03 July 2006

Lord of the Bagels

Another musical season ended on Saturday night with the Last Night of the Scottish Proms. Think of the Last Night of the BBC Proms, but with saltires and ‘Flower of Scotland’ in place of union jacks and ‘Rule, Britannia’. We performed our medley of potential Scottish national anthems, and the compère announced the results of a web-based poll to determine the most popular. No prizes for guessing that ‘Flower of Scotland’ won hands down, with 41 per cent of the vote. No prizes, either, for guessing that my personal favourite, ‘A Man's a Man for a’ that’, came in second from bottom. The punters loved every minute of it, which of course made the evening worthwhile. (For the results of the poll, see this page.)

The title of this entry actually refers to a couple of concerts a week earlier. We had the interesting experience of singing Elvish (not to mention Dwarfish, Orcish, etc.) to packed audiences at the Royal Concert Hall. Yes, Howard Shore's Lord of the Rings Symphony has come to Glasgow. It was a tremendous success. I wish I could say I really enjoyed performing it. Unfortunately I was struggling with a cold and by the end of the Saturday night my voice was wrecked.

I must admit that I wouldn’t give house room to a recording of the Lord of the Rings Symphony. As a piece of programme music, it fails because it is too condensed to give a fair reflection of the novel or the films. And it certainly fails as a symphony because it is far too long and musically incoherent. Admittedly some of the music is very attractive and there is some very interesting orchestration, but it also has its fair share of cringe-making themes. For example, the Shire/Hobbit leitmotif is uncannily similar to the music used in the Hovis adverts. (Hence, Lord of the Bagels!)

My voice is now looking forward to a well-earned summer rest. Next up is a performance of Mahler’s 2nd Symphony at the end of September and then Mendelssohn’s Elijah in November. Now there’s an oratorio with everything: famine, invocation of pagan gods, mass murder, earthquake, fire and whirlwind!

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