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[THEATER] David Henry Hwang & Howard Shore

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  • madchinaman
    HOWARD SHORE (Who has worked with David Henry Hwang in M.Butterfly) From Screen to Stage http://www.planet-tolkien.com/news/article_111.html Last year,
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 16, 2005
      HOWARD SHORE (Who has worked with David Henry Hwang in M.Butterfly)
      From Screen to Stage

      Last year, composer Howard Shore reached a new pinnacle of success
      with his epic-sized score for The Return of the King, the final
      installment in director Peter Jackson's big-screen Lord of the Rings

      Among Shore's take for that film: a Grammy, two Golden Globes, plus
      his second and third Oscars. But for the 58-year-old Shore, who
      began writing music at the age of ten in his native Toronto, the
      lure of the concert hall and live orchestral performance beckons.

      Shore began his career in 1975, as Musical Director of the first-
      ever Saturday Night Live band. Since then, he has created memorable
      scores for dozens of high-profile films, including projects by some
      of the cinema's most respected directors. During the last two
      decades, he has worked with Martin Scorsese (Gangs of New York),
      Jonathan Demme (The Silence of the Lambs), Tim Burton (Ed Wood),
      David Fincher (Panic Room), and fellow Canadian David Cronenberg
      (Dead Ringers), to name only a few.

      "I was originally drawn to composing for the screen because I was
      interested in music and I thought that film work would give me the
      opportunity to compose for a lot of different types of subjects,"
      Shore explains. "I've been writing music since I was a kid. In a
      way, The Lord of the Rings took me 40 years to write. I actually
      worked for four years on the score for all three films, but it feels
      to me like the culmination of 40 years of work in music."

      Shore's music for the blockbuster Rings trilogy won unanimous
      acclaim for providing the ideal aural match to Peter Jackson's epic
      vision, and for capturing all the power, passion and emotion of
      J.R.R. Tolkien's mythical Middle Earth. During that creative
      process, Shore turned for inspiration to Jackson's screenplays as
      well as to Tolkien's original novels, which include some musical
      descriptions in the text. From there, the composer researched the
      music of European cultures from thousands of years ago. The
      resulting score includes Celtic influences, Middle Eastern
      flourishes, and a variety of other folk music idioms, often
      performed with historically accurate instruments like the Ney flute,
      the Hardanger fiddle, and the Bodhran drum. Shore even wrote choral
      portions of the score in Tolkien's invented language of "Elvish."

      In addition to verisimilitude, another objective was to utilize the
      structure of Wagnerian opera by attaching recognizable musical
      motifs to characters and objects immortalized in Tolkien's sweeping
      narrative. "Peter and I agreed that we wanted the score to have the
      feeling of a classic opera, but I had to do that part of the work
      afterward," Shore says. "Once the scenes were filmed and edited, I
      had to capture that kind of beauty and emotion."

      Now that the Rings trilogy has settled into immortality on DVD,
      Shore has focused his attention on his new Lord of the Rings
      Symphony, an orchestral work adapted from his music for all three
      films in the series. So far, Shore's maiden orchestral effort –
      which requires over 200 performers – has been delighting critics
      around the world. "Shore's musical opus is every bit as impressive
      as Tolkien's literary one," wrote Jeff Shannon of The Seattle
      Times. "It stands on its own as a sweeping, operatic experience,
      even when liberated from the majesty of Jackson's trilogy."

      "Creating this symphony was initially suggested as a way to preserve
      the score," Shore explains. "John Mauceri (Music Director of the
      Pittsburgh Opera and Principal Conductor of the Hollywood Bowl
      Orchestra) suggested that creating this concert work would allow for
      the music to be performed by orchestras and choruses and children's
      choirs around the world. So with John's help, I took the full 12
      hours of music and created one 2-hour symphony. There are six
      movements – two for each film in the trilogy – but that six-part
      structure also relates to Tolkien's books, because that's the way he
      organized his original story."

      On Mauceri's suggestion, Shore did a test run by adapting his music
      from the first Lord of the Rings installment – 2001's The Fellowship
      of the Ring – into a 40-minute concert suite that premiered at the
      Hollywood Bowl in 2002. Since then, the composer has given similar
      treatment to the entire Rings trilogy, resulting in "a living,
      breathing concert piece" that has been attracting enthusiastic
      audiences – many members of which have never before set foot inside
      a concert hall.

      "This whole experience has been liberating for me," Shore
      says. "Once I started, I realized what a joy it is to actually play
      with orchestras in different parts of the world – to be able to
      present this music live after years of working in the recording

      "It's been fantastic to see so many people taking an interest in
      Tolkien," he continues. "Anywhere in the world it's been performed –
      Seattle, Atlanta, Chicago, London, Sydney, Taipei, Seville – it's
      all been done by local performers. To me, that's the real joy of it –
      to hear all of these different interpretations." When The Lord of
      the Rings Symphony comes to Prudential Hall on December 3 and 4, the
      presentation will feature the full New Jersey Symphony Orchestra,
      conducted by John Mauceri, along with Broadway vocalist Susan Egan,
      the Montclair State University Chorale, and the New Jersey Youth
      Chorus. The performances will also incorporate projected images of
      original sketches and storyboard art that corresponds to the music.

      So now that he's traveled around the world with his first formal
      symphony, how does the experience hold up to composing for the
      screen? "Composing is quieter – and more sedate," he says. "This has
      a physical component. A lot of composer-conductors have struggled
      with this over the years. It's a constant in the history of music.
      Conducting, performing and composing are completely different
      undertakings. One requires this quiet, centered aloneness, and the
      other involves so many musicians and conflicting schedules and
      travel plans."

      Jet lag aside, what does the classical music stage provide Shore
      that his screen work does not? "Complete control," he says with a
      laugh. "I love that purely compositional approach to music. I've
      worked on chamber music during the last several years, and that is
      the antithesis of the collaborative nature of film and theater. It's
      an entirely different outlet that allows me to stay focused on
      things that I'm interested in."

      In the meantime, Shore continues his work with some of the world's
      top filmmakers. At the moment, he is creating the score for
      Jackson's latest project, a top-secret remake of King Kong. "I've
      never had a relationship like this one with Peter," Shore says. "He
      is such a good filmmaker, and he works with me like he would with
      another screenwriter. He's with me every step of the way. He's quite
      unique, but I think all directors are, actually. They all develop
      their own techniques. Cronenberg is a great director, but he's very
      different from Peter or Martin Scorsese. Each has his unique way of
      working, and they've all been valuable experiences for me."

      Now, with the end-of-year award season in full swing, Shore might
      find himself in the running again, this time for his work on
      Scorsese's highly anticipated The Aviator. In addition to King Kong,
      he is at work on David Cronenberg's latest, A History of Violence.
      And cinema aside, he's keeping one foot on the performing arts stage
      by developing a new opera, based on The Fly – not the campy 1958
      version, but Cronenberg's viscerally graphic 1986 reworking. This
      time out, Shore's collaborators include librettist David Henry Hwang
      (M. Butterfly) and, hopefully, Cronenberg himself as director.

      "I've been an opera fan for many years and have thought about
      working in that medium for a long, long time," Shore explains. "At
      this point, it feels natural to me, because opera is such a
      collaborative form. It involves orchestra and chorus and soloists,
      so it's a natural extension of the work I've been doing."

      "After reaching this achievement with The Lord of the Rings, I need
      a fresh start again," he concludes. "This feels like an entirely new


      Arena Stage is proud to launch its new seasonwith David Henry
      Hwang's award-winning M. Butterfly, one of the first works by an
      Asian-American playwright to earn wide acclaim.

      "Sixteen years ago, M. Butterfly burst onto the scene like a
      bracingjolt of salt air. Audiences were abuzz with this play because
      it tapped into huge questions of sex and sexuality," said Artistic
      Director Molly Smith.

      Inspired by the opera Madama Butterfly, Hwang's play examines
      cultural and gender stereotypes of East and West. M. Butterfly was
      first produced in 1988 and won numerous awards, including the Tony
      Award for Best Play of the Year, the New York Drama Desk Award, the
      Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Broadway play, and the John
      Gassner Award for the season's outstanding new playwright, David
      Henry Hwang. Hwang's other work includes the play Golden Child, for
      which he received a 1998 Tony nomination and a 1997 OBIE Award. His
      remake of Rodgers & Hammerstein's Flower Drum Song earned him his
      third Tony nomination in 2003.

      He is currently represented on Broadway and internationally as co-
      author of Disney's Aida, winner of four 2000 Tony Awards. Other
      plays include FOB (1981 OBIE Award), TheDance and the Railroad,
      Family Devotions, The Sound of a Voice, and Bondage.

      He recently adapted Peter Sis' Tibet Through the Red Box for Seattle
      Children's Theatre. His opera libretti include three works by
      composer Philip Glass, 1000 Airplanes on the Roof (International
      Tour), The Voyage (Metropolitan Opera), and The Sound of a Voice
      (American Repertory Theatre) as well as The Silver River(Lincoln
      Center Festival) with music by Bright Sheng and Ainadamar
      (Tanglewood, LA's Disney Hall) with composer Osvaldo Golijov.

      Hwang penned the feature films M. Butterfly, Golden Gate, and
      Possession (co-writer), and co-wrote the song "Solo," released on
      the album Come by composer/performer Prince. Upcoming productions
      include the book for a new Broadway musical, Disney's Tarzan, with
      music by Phil Collins, and an opera based on David Cronenberg's The
      Fly with music by Howard Shore.

      From 1994-2001, Hwang served by appointment of President Clinton on
      the President's Committee for the Arts and the Humanities.
      Currently, he sits on the Council of the Dramatists Guild and the
      board of Young Playwrights Inc.

      Arena Stage and the Smithsonian Institution's Asian Pacific American
      Program join forces to present a Think Tank in conjunction with
      Arena's production of M. Butterflyby David Henry Hwang. The 90-
      minute panel discussion examines the challenges and rewards that
      face artists of this culture today. Panelists scheduled to
      appearinclude playwrights Hwang, Julia Cho, Randy Gener and Chay
      Yew; Terry Hong, Media Arts Consultant for the Smithsonian's APA
      Program, will moderate.


      Scott W. Davis on Friday 4th Mar @ 5:10AM - COMMENT
      This is one of those wacky stories that I would really like to see
      happen. The people involved are extremely talented, and the idea is
      so out there that I don't think it could possibly tarnish the
      original. What am I talking about? I'm talking about THE FLY... as
      an opera!

      Fangoria reports that the horror icon will be brought to the stage
      as an elaborate opera in 2007. The man behind it is none other than
      David Cronenberg himself, working in conjunction with Henry Hwang.
      Cronenberg actually directed a film version of Hwang's brilliant
      play, M. BUTTERFLY.

      Since Cronenberg is involved, the opera will likely use his 1986
      remake as source material and not the original Vincent Price film.
      It is unknown exactly what route they will take with the production,
      but it is set to premiere at the Los Angeles Opera.

      The opera will be composed by Academy Award winner Howard Shore, who
      has been a longtime collaborator with Cronenberg. In addition to
      Cronenberg's films, Shore has composed such incredible film scores
      OF THE LAMBS. Current projects in the works include the score for
      Peter Jackson's KING KONG.

      Horror and musical theatre have had a traditionally tricky
      relationship. The biggest successes come with the adaptations of
      classics such as PHANTOM OF THE OPERA and JECKYLL AND HYDE (although
      the latter was a horrible play, it did bring in tickets). Modern
      horror typically has not fared as well, the most notorious example
      being the Broadway bomb, CARRIE: THE MUSICAL. Exceptions to this
      rule include the musical comedy, LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, which used
      a Roger Corman film as its basis.


      David Henry Hwang was awarded the 1988 Tony", Drama Desk, Outer
      Critics, and John Gassner Awards for his Broadway debut, M.
      Butterfly, which was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. For his
      most recent play, Golden Child, he received a 1998 Tony" nomination
      and a 1997 OBIE Award. His new book for Rodgers & Hammerstein's
      Flower Drum Song premiered at Los Angeles' Mark Taper Forum, and is
      currently playing on Broadway. He is also represented on Broadway
      and internationally as co-author of the book for Elton John and Tim
      Rice's Aida, winner of four 2000 Tony" Awards. Other plays include
      FOB (1981 OBIE Award), The Dance and the Railroad, Family Devotions,
      The Sound of a Voice, and Bondage.

      In opera, he has written libretti for two works by composer Philip
      Glass, 1000 Airplanes on the Roof (International Tour) and The
      Voyage (Metropolitan Opera), as well as The Silver River (Lincoln
      Center Festival) with music by Bright Sheng, and The Scarlet
      Princess (Canadian Opera Company) for Alexina Louie. Hwang penned
      the feature films M. Butterfly, Golden Gate, and Possession (co-
      writer). He also co-wrote the song "Solo" with composer/performer
      Prince. Upcoming productions include the books for two new musicals,
      Largo (Trinity Repertory Company) and Disney's Tarzan with music by
      Phil Collins, as well as a new Glass chamber opera, The Sound of a
      Voice (American Repertory Theatre).

      Hwang serves on the Dramatists Guild Council and was appointed by
      President Clinton to the President's Committee on the Arts and the
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