The work, a concert adaptation of Shore's scores for the three Lord of the Rings films, has proved enormously popular since its debut in Wellington, New Zealand in 2003. Nearly all of its performances, given by orchestras around the world, have sold out. Performances in Oslo and Bergen, Norway, last year drew crowds of 70,000 and 30,000, respectively.
The six-movement, two-hour symphony is scored for orchestra, adult and children's choirs, and soloists. At the San Francisco Symphony's performances on July 14 and 15, Markus Huber, one of several conductors who have toured with the work, will be on the podium; soloists include soprano Kaitlyn Lusk. The event will also include projections of illustrations and storyboard sketches of the Lord of the Rings saga.
Recent performances of the symphony include three by the Colorado Symphony last week; there are upcoming performances by Germany's Neue Philharmonie Westfalen on May 28, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra on June 24 and 25, the North Carolina Symphony on July 15, and the San Diego Symphony on July 20. More performances are planned this summer in Germany and at the Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville, Washington.
The San Francisco Symphony is not the first major orchestra to play the symphony: The Cleveland Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, and London Philharmonic have already performed it. It has even reached New York—just barely. Last fall the Collegiate Chorale presented the first two movements on a program with excerpts from Wagner operas.
Reviews and anecdotal evidence suggest that the work is drawing new audiences to the concert hall, though whether they stay for other repertoire is unclear.
"The symphony has been presented around the world, but regardless of where it has been done the performances have been given by local artists," Shore said. "That's the real joy of it for me: this work is helping awaken community interest in the symphony orchestra."