The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Cantaré Children’s Choir is thrilled to be joining the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra in their production of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers this May long weekend. Our choristers have been working hard on this incredible score and are looking forward to bringing this piece of cinematic legend to life on stage. The performance will include a live orchestra and choir to accompany the film projected on the stage of the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium.


The Lord of the Rings

Based on J.R.R Tolkien’s classics, The Lord of the Rings trilogy is considered amongst the highest ranks of the fantasy genre. The films were especially known for bridging the gap for fantasy from niche audience to popular film event similar to cultural phenomena like Star Wars and the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The films were immensely successful with both critics and the box office: The trilogy earned nearly $3 Billion in worldwide box office sales and took home 17 Oscars (30 nominations) including sweeping 11 categories in the final instalment, The Return of the King.  While many action fantasy films are disregarded as low quality or not having particularly convincing plots, the trilogy is heralded for its enthralling storytelling and deep human connection to the struggles of the modern world.

We spend so much time teaching our choristers about musical influence – how one composer’s works were required for other composers to bring new magic into the world. For film, LOTR is no different: The massive production requirements to bring the story to life led to incredible leaps in digital filmmaking, art production, sound design, motion capture, and cinematography which have set the stage for modern cinema. Many practices developed to make the Lord of the Rings have become industry standards because of its incredible success.

Composed by Howard Shore, the original score for Lord of the Rings is amongst the most highly regarded musical works in the industry. Shore took home two Academy Awards for Best Original Score and produced numerous famous works for the films. The score has become a work unto itself independent of the films but is always highlighted as one of the best parts of experiencing the films.


The Two Towers

Frodo and Sam are being hunted as they continue their journey to destroy the weapon of the enemy

Frodo and Sam are being hunted as they continue their journey to destroy the weapon of the enemy

This year, we will be providing the music to The Two Towers, the trilogy’s second instalment. The story follows the now broken Fellowship of the Ring as they go their separate ways to fight to save Middle Earth from the spreading malice of the Dark Lord Sauron. Frodo (Elijah Wood) departs the fellowship with Sam (Sean Astin) to continue their journey to destroy the One Ring only to discover they are being followed by the mysterious Gollum. Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), the Elf archer Legolas and Gimli the Dwarf encounter the besieged kingdom of Rohan, whose once great King Théoden has fallen under the wizard Saruman's deadly spell. The film climaxes around the siege of Helms Deep as the realms of men make their final stand against impending doom. It is a story of adventure and wonder accompanied by yet another epic and inspiring musical score.

The score for The Two Towers packs a particular punch in comparison to the other two films. The movie chronicles some of the darkest points of the story as the mortal world is crumbling all around from forces of evil, fear, and greed. Shore’s music is diligently deployed in bringing the human side of the story back into the narrative as the voices remind the viewers of the lives affected by the events. There is an inherent grief woven into the music to embody the cost and suffering of conflict and what it does to those who only desire to make a better world. After spending so much of the past few seasons studying the events of World War I, our choristers know this message all too well.

One of many examples of Howard Shore’s epic musical score in The Two Towers

The white wizard Saruman has assembled an army of mutilated Uruk-Hai ten thousand strong to destroy the Kingdom of Rohan

The white wizard Saruman has assembled an army of mutilated Uruk-Hai ten thousand strong to destroy the Kingdom of Rohan

This will be our third time bringing The Lord of the Rings to the stage: We first participated in the Lord of the Rings Symphony in 2008 and returned to perform The Fellowship of the Ring with the live film in 2015. Bringing Howard Shore’s music to life has always been a source of great joy for our choristers both because the music is so rewarding to sing and because these films are personal favourites of many of our students. The chance to be involved in such a large production is always an incredible learning opportunity.

Bringing the movies to life

Cantaré has a long history of performing with professional orchestras in Calgary and bringing masterworks to the stage. Unlike turning many film scores into on-stage productions, the LOTR trilogy is an incredibly complex and challenging score for both the orchestra and singers alike. Shore’s compositions rival the beauty and complexity of major symphonic works and demand complete dedication from our singers. The children play a crucial role in some of the film’s most climactic moments and this requires expanding our understanding of not only the music, but how the music interacts with the emotional ups and downs of the storytelling.

This kind of production brings with it many additional challenges that are not present with normal concerts. Our singing has to be perfectly timed up with the events of the film and our vocal production must be precise and authentic to the original score. This feels like a do or die moment for our choristers as there is no room for error in a production of this scale. With a large orchestra, soloists, children’s and adult choruses, and many moving technical elements, there is an added level of excitement when the production comes together. We are always so proud of the work our children do and they are an important piece of this production.

The Languages of Middle Earth

An example of Tolkien’s Elvish Language, which serves as the base language for many of the dialects of Middle Earth

An example of Tolkien’s Elvish Language, which serves as the base language for many of the dialects of Middle Earth

There is an added level of complexity to this project as our singers have to learn to sing in the languages of Middle Earth. Tolkien’s world building was so immense that he crafted entire languages for each different race in Middle Earth, we never thought we would be able to add “Elvish” into our musical vocabulary!

Each language uniquely reflects those who speak it from the dark tongues of the Orcs of Mordor to the beautiful flow of the mystical and enchanting elves. Unpacking each text has felt like an added adventure for our choristers as they learn about the vastness of one of the most well-known fantasy universes. Tolkien was himself a linguist and the level of depth he sought from his storytelling gives us many more tools to work with as singers. As with all music we teach, we make a point of ensuring our choristers understand the text and emotion behind the music they are singing as to produce the most authentic delivery of a piece. Even with all the demands of producing a film on stage, this work is no different. Being able to understand what a text is saying gives the films a great deal more meaning as we perform the work.

We are so excited to bring Howard Shore’s incredible score to life and to make the Lord of the Rings experience even more authentic and incredible for fans of the trilogy. We hope you will come and join us for this amazing adventure across Middle Earth!


Concert Details


Location: Southern Jubilee Auditorium


Friday, May 17 / 7:30 PM

Saturday, May 18 / 7:30 PM

Sunday, May 19 / 2:00 PM