FredO's Journal of the LOTR Symphony in Pittsburgh
Last year I kept a running, daily journal of the
events here in Pittsburgh as we hosted Howard Shore conducting the
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) performing his Lord Of The Rings
Symphony. I will be doing the same thing this year as the PSO will be
hosting John Mauceri conducting in Howard’s stead and, the really big
news, the premier performance of Billy Boyd performing “The Edge Of
Just a quick recap for those of you wondering why I’m keeping this
journal. I wrote a letter to the PSO that convinced them to take the
chance and add the LOTR Symphony to their 2004 concerts. The first two
planned performances sold out in no time and a third performance was
added later. That too sold out making the LOTR Symphony the event of
the season for the PSO. Because of my initial involvement, and my
subsequent assistance to the PSO in advertising the event, they allowed
me to attend rehearsals, bring my video camera to the pre-concert
dinner, the pre-concert Q&A and the post-concert reception. I was
afforded a behind-the-scenes peak at things and got to meet Howard
Shore and last year’s guest vocalist, Sissel, each night. And what a
time I had!
This year is more of the same. I’m starting this journal the night
before all the activity begins. Once again I will be attending the
first rehearsal tomorrow morning when John Mauceri will conduct the
symphony without the voices. I found this a phenomenal experience last
year. Not that I don’t love the choirs but there is something really
special about hearing the music by itself. It’s not raw or undefined
when played alone. Rather it’s quite lush and sweeping and interesting
to listen to on its own.
I am especially interested in hearing how John Mauceri will
conduct the PSO. I have read his credentials and they are impressive.
It is my understanding that John approached Howard about setting the
11+ hours of film score into a 2-hour symphonic work. I’m hoping to get
a chance to ask him some questions about his involvement and how they
collaborated. I’m especially interested in learning how they chose the
pieces. Some of the choices seem obvious like “Many Meetings” from FOTR
where we first here the Rivendell theme. But why did they omit one of
my personal favorites? I was so hoping to hear “The Treason Of
Isengard” from FOTR especially the part where the moth visits Gandalf
on the top of the tower. It’s a very moving moment in the score. I love
how Howard constructed that moment to move away from the industrial
sounds of the forges at work to slowly distill to the sweetness and
purity of the male voice of the moth. And then the returning sounds as
we go back down the tower into the forges. I had really hoped to hear
that one live.
I’m also going to be very interested in hearing how John’s style
of conducting differs from Howards‘. I’m sure they have distinct and
different approaches. I want to hear how John interprets some of what
Howard wrote. It should be very interesting. If any of you reading this
have had the pleasure of hearing both of these men conduct this work I
would very much appreciate hearing what you have to say by way of
This year saw a big change in approach to the LOTR Symphony with
the PSO. With Howard Shore not being available, no buzz about Academy
Awards or any other DVD release, there is that sense that the world has
moved on. And it is summer when so many people are very busy and have
other plans. How then to make this something special? How to
distinguish this from just another event on the Symphony’s calendar?
That answer came months ago from a good friend who had been deeply
involved in arranging the benefit dinner that we held last year. Her
name is Stephanie and she wrote the cookbook “Regional Cooking from
Middle Earth.” I was lucky enough to have met Steph at the Line Party
for TTT a couple of years ago. Since then we have become a team helping
the PSO make these concerts special. Last year saw a pre-concert dinner
before the Saturday show. This year will see the benefit dinner before
each performance with a different menu for each night. Steph worked
real hard to bring that all together but her real flourish was the idea
of asking Billy Boyd to come here and perform “The Edge Of Night.” It
took many months of negotiations to finalize this but it was well worth
the effort. This is now a very special concert event and something I
feel very grateful to be a part of.
There is of course the matter of Ringers coming from distant
places. Few things are as special as meeting new Ringers and spending
time with old friends. I am glad to report that there are people coming
from all over to be here. I’ve been in touch with many of them and hope
to meet as many as possible. This really adds to the whole experience
for me. I have met so many wonderful people because of LOTR and sharing
this with them will only make it that much more special for me.
Lastly, I decided some time back to not listen to the CD’s of the
sound tracks. I really want to come to the concerts completely fresh
this year. Last year found me sobbing at certain parts during the first
night to the point where my wife had to nudge me to keep quiet. One of
our box mates was having the same reaction and we were practically a
pair of blubbering teenagers sitting there. To have that experience 3
nights in a row was really intense and special. It’s been months since
I sat down to listen to any of the CD’s so this should all feel like a
new experience for me. Actually, what always gets me is the trill of
the strings at the very start. I get a tingling sensation and that
expectant sense I get whenever I open LOTR and start reading. I know
what the journey to come will be like. I know where we are going. I
can’t wait for the adventure to begin!
For anyone wishing to see photos from last year’s concert, and some
photos from the Boston Moot I attended last September, go to this link:
Let me cut right to the chase – I met Billy Boyd tonight! He came to
the evening. He performed “The Edge Of Night” twice. It is an
incredible joy to hear him perform the song live. Billy has a trained
voice and it shows. He has great vocal control and he sounds terrific.
His dynamics are wonderful and his voice sounds strong and clear. I was
ecstatic to see this finally come together after so many months of
planning and work. Phew! What a fantastic treat!
As to how I met Billy well that was brief, but poignant moment,
for me. I saw him come in during the break in rehearsal. There were
only a few of us in the auditorium. Shelly Fuerte, who works for the
PSO and is in charge of taking care of the celebrities when they are in
town, brought Billy to the floor. I know Shelly but I was a bit
uncertain as to whether it would be alright to go over to meet Billy.
Stephanie, who was also in attendance with her daughter Areya, took the
bull by the horns and went right over. Since Steph had planted and
cultivated the idea of bringing Billy here I felt this made sense. So
my wife and I followed Steph over and Shelly introduced all of us to
Billy. I got to shake his hand and welcome him to Pittsburgh. Shelly
mentioned to Billy that it had been Stephanie’s idea to invite Billy
and that I had been involved in helping the PSO get the first
performance to Pittsburgh last year. He was kind and gracious. He
looked great in his lightweight leather jacket, jeans and boots. He
seemed quite relaxed and more than ready for the challenge of
performing with the PSO. Those coming to the concert are in for
something quite unique. There is a bit of surprise in his performance,
which I won’t reveal here, but some of you are in for a little extra
A DIFFERENT APPROACH
I attended the morning rehearsal today as well. This is a rehearsal
with just the orchestra and no choir or vocalists. I noticed that there
was something different immediately. The orchestra was arranged
differently last year when Howard conducted. His staging called for the
piano and cymbalon to be off to the right with the percussionists
arranged mostly to the left. I could tell that this had been shifted.
Interestingly enough this was not the only change.
John Mauceri entered the stage and got to work pretty quickly. I
heard him make some comments about the score of the LOTR Symphony
actually having been worked on here in Pittsburgh. I’m hoping to get a
chance to ask him more about this. I know he was relating to the PSO
how he had collaborated with Howard in distilling the film music into a
The conducting style of John Mauceri is much different from Howard
Shore. John was really going over the score bit by bit. I could see
different sections asking questions and marking their copies as they
got answers. John was very direct, and precise, in what he wanted. He
never seemed to waiver for a moment. I can remember last year that
Howard had some very distinct comments as well but, for the most part,
was fairly sparing in the particulars. I don’t think either approach is
better – they are just different. I will say that some of the passages
sound a little differently than they did last year and, again, neither
one being better just not the same. Here’s a good example: the very
ending piece, where the credits are finishing on the screen for ROTK,
is quite subtle and simply melts away very delicately. I well-remember
watching Howard hold the final note for what seemed like a breathless
eternity as the orchestra slowly let the last note quietly fade. John
has added a bit of a different dimension to this moment. He has placed
a full-orchestral swell just in front of that last note. It’s quite
dramatic and suits a live performance exquisitely. I have to admit that
I really like both approaches and it is very nice to have an artist,
like John, interpret the material in his own style. It brings freshness
to the experience.
THE DEEP BREATH BEFORE…
Soon it will be Friday night and the first performance will be
here. I won’t attend the rehearsals tomorrow though I’m sorely tempted.
I want to let this day rest in me till I see the actual performance.
With so many people coming in from out of town, and so many little
plans to finalize, I need a day to rest up before what will prove to be
a long weekend. I know from the 3 performances last year how fast this
time will pass. I’m going to savor every moment of it while it lasts.
A million details to take care of have added up to me being a
bundle of nerves. Yesterday was crazy! I had thought it would be a day
of relaxation before the weekend but no such luck. Too many things were
still left hanging and with people coming in from out of town it made
for a busy day. Now the “board is set…the pieces are moving” and I’m
feeling the anticipation of the moment. I’ve got to be at Heinz Hall
before 5:00 PM to make sure all is ready for the dinner. We’re
expecting more than 70 people which is fantastic! Tomorrow night there
will be more than 100 which is even more amazing. I’m sure it will all
go well and we’ll all have fun. Can’t wait!
Billy appeared on the radio yesterday on a local classical music
station, WQED FM. I posted this online to let everyone know they could
catch the interview via the station’s web site. I did call the station
to make sure that their servers could handle the extra traffic. I knew
there was a potential for a lot of people to log onto their site to
catch the interview and I didn’t want them getting a nasty surprise.
What’s also been really cool is how the radio station has been playing
clips from the sound track and from other recordings of the sound track
like James Galway’s performance of the LOTR Suite.
Billy was on for about 23 minutes. They interspersed the interview
with some clips from the sound tracks. It was really nice to hear him
talk about his excitement for being here and finally getting to perform
“The Edge Of Night” live. He mentioned how incredible it was to stand
on stage before 200 vocalists and musicians and sing his song at that
first rehearsal. All I could do was pinch myself because I had been
there. What a great moment to relive and to hear Billy talk about his
own excitement. How lucky am I?!
Billy also appeared this morning on a local TV station, KDKA. They
played some clips from FOTR. They kept him for about 8 minutes all
told. He talked a bit about the initial filming of LOTR and the yearly
pick-up shoots. He spoke of the friends he’d made in New Zealand and
how much fun he had. He also talked about how much he’s stayed in touch
with other members of the cast and how they each attend each other’s
premiers and events.
A SMALL TOKEN
I deiced to make Billy a little homemade present. I had coined a
phrase sometime back: “Real Ringers Read The Book” and made a tee-shire
out of it for myself. I know Billy has read the book and I hope he
understands that I’m not trying to denigrate the film-only fans. I’m
trying to challenge them. For the sake of literacy and for the sake of
the best fantasy novel ever. Owing to the quirks of the English
language you can read that phrase as “Real Ringers ‘have’ Read The
Book” too. Either way I’m hoping Billy likes this small token of my
appreciation of him coming to Pittsburgh.
It’s tme for me to get a move on and get ready for this evening.
We’ve been discussing what to do after the post-concert event and it
looks like we’re heading for a bar not from Heinz Hall. This could turn
into an even longer night and party. Woo-hoo!
SATURDAY 7/23/05 - MORNING
LAST NIGHT I DIDN’T GET TO SLEEP…
Well we were almost up all night long but not quite. What a night
what a time! I met so many new Ringers, got reacquainted with a few
others and saw some dear friends as well. We ate, drank, listened,
Mooted and had a great time together.
I can’t say enough great things about the concert. I can summarize
it best by stating that the PSO played phenomenally under John
Mauceri’s direction. The choirs sounded wonderful. They were easy to
hear and the overall blend of the orchestra and choirs was spot on.
John Mauceri’s conducting was demonstrative as he led the PSO through
Howard Shore’s fantastic score. The whole night was like a big roller
coaster ride. The audience insisted on 3 curtain calls and cheered,
whistled and yelled. I was transported directly to Middle Earth and
stayed there for 2 hours. What an experience!
Billy’s performance was something truly special. Billy performed
“The Edge Of Night” with warmth and depth and amazing pacing and
dynamics. For such a short work that song carries a lot of emotion.
Billy’s voice was clear and strong and his performance was incredible.
I can reveal now that he performs the song from the Grand Tier Box
Right. I have the front row tickets for those seats to tonight’s
performance! Of note to you readers is that Agape4Rivendell and
TariElfLady will be sitting right behind us!!!! When I saw what they
were doing at rehearsal on Wednesday night I was shocked. I had to
pinch myself when I found out they had decided to have him perform the
song from there. To add irony to this, Agape and Tari were at last
night’s show and, because they had front row seats, didn’t bother to
look to see him in the box. So they don’t yet know that he will be
there. We have not told them – it’s going to come as one complete shock
to them when he comes out to sing!
DINNER, Q&A & POST-CONCERT
Billy proved to be a most gracious celebrity at the dinner and the
post-concert reception. He signed programs, magazines, shirts and
whatever else anyone brought to him. He received several beautiful
gifts including a beautiful painting and a wonderful framed copy of the
lyrics to “The Edge Of Night” done in calligraphy. There were people
from as far away as Britain at the concert. It was so nice to meet
Billy and get the chance to thank him for coming and making the concert
At the dinner I met a lot of Ringers from out of town. Sandy, who
came in from Illinois, brought the calligraphy piece. I was able to
videotape her giving this gift to Billy. Sandy let on that she is
having an “LOTR Year” and will be travelling to Britain for Tolkien
2005 (Mathom are you listening?). She has not had the chance to get
involved online much but she plans on doing so now that she’s met so
many of us at the concert.
Because there were some 80 of us at the dinner they asked those of
us coming to the post-concert to hold off on asking Billy for an
autograph. Everyone was well-behaved and compliant. The food was
delicious and the company warm and friendly. The age range, as it
always is with LOTR, was from the teens into the 80’s. It’s so nice to
see so many people from so many different demographics come together
for this concert.
I also managed to videotape the Q&A where John Mauceri provided
many specifics about his collaboration with Howard Shore in forming the
2-hour concert. It was great to hear how they worked in separate
cities, Howard in Tuxedo, NY and John here in Pittsburgh, and were able
to pull together this wonderful concert.
Billy talked a little about his upcoming film, “On A Clear Day.”
He also talked a bit about a long-planned project with Dominic
Monaghan. They have both been too busy with other projects to really
get time together on this venture but that may be changing in the
At the post-concert there was a ton of electricity in the air. John
Mauceri was there early and Billy was not far behind him. A line formed
for Billy and he took the time to speak with everyone, sign whatever
they asked him to and pose for pictures. He was very warm and gracious
and generous with his time. I got to give Billy my “Real Ringers Read
The Book” tee-shirt. The back of it says “One Book To Rule Them All.” I
said to him “I have an impertinent present for you. I think everyone
should have a cheap tee-shirt when they visit a city. Mine is a small
attempt to promote literacy.” He opened it up and gave a giggle and
said he liked it. He then posed for a photo with me with a PSO staff
member holding the shirt. He also posed for one with my wife, Sue. I
then asked him to sign my copy of the fan club magazine with Pippin on
the cover. I really enjoyed the time he gave me.
This went on for a few hours and eventually he staff of Heinz Hall
had to pick an ending point. We then moved off to a hotel up the street
and stopped in for a few drinks. We wound up meeting a few more
out-of-town Ringers and invited them to my party today (more on that
later). I was up till 3:30 rehashing the evening with Agape and Tari.
We were comparing this concert to last year’s. I’ll rest up from it all
next week. Here’s a link to some photos from last night:
SATURDAY 7/23/05 – LUNCHEON MOOT
One quick mention – I uploaded a short review of the concert last
night to TORn with a few pictures and it hit their front page this
Well we’ve had a great day with some 30 people showing up for the
Moot. Agape and Tari were here. Joining us also were King Lamoni,
Gondor’s Queen and Gavanna. There were several people here from our
local Ringers group as well as some that we met yesterday. We have so
much extra food now that I think we could feed a small village. Barb,
Gondor’s Queen, brought a wonderful Venison Chili with her. We had
assorted cakes and cookies, a pasta salad and cold cuts. But of course,
as always, it was the fellowship with other Ringers that made the day
so great. We all shared stories of our LOTR travels and the friends
we’ve made. It’s time to get ready for tonight’s performance. Can’t
Here’s some pictures:
ONE MORE DINNER
Dinner was again wonderful. Saturday night’s theme was “The
Coronation Of A King.” Friday night’s was “A Hobbit Homecoming.” Unlike
Friday night Billy didn’t even try to eat. When he came in Friday night
they sat him at a table and the people at his table were very nice and
did not try and get his autograph or anything. And everyone else was
good about this as well. However, time was short and Billy had to be
upstairs for the Q&A soon so he put aside eating to take people’s
autograph requests and photograph requests. Saturday night was
completely different. Shelly, of the PSO, put Billy at a table and
people went over to greet him immediately. He had eaten before he came
and we had all been through the appetizer and main course by the time
he got there. The food was again terrific and everyone was quite
satisfied. Billy was again very welcoming and gracious to everyone who
came up to the table.
I skipped the Q&A and stayed to linger over the wonderful
chocolate dessert. I was pretty bushed from the long night before and
the all-day Moot at our house. I wanted to relax some and just enjoy
some quiet company in the beautiful setting that is Heinz Hall’s party
room. A few others who had been to the Q&A on Friday night remained
as well. It was a nice time to share as we prepared for the concert.
REALLY BIG SURPRISES…
It was over dinner that I realized that Sharon and Kathie still
didn’t know where Billy was singing when he performed “Edge Of Night.”
Tom (Tolman, Jr.) who was going to be sitting in our box decided to try
and keep this secret from them by asking our usher to tell Shelly not
to come in to alert us during the intermission. We had all witnessed
Shelly going into that box on Friday night to tell the people there
that Billy would be sneaking in to sing the song. I hadn’t wanted to
meddle in this. I knew that there were 2 seats in the box with us that
were not part of our group. All told there were 10 seats in that box
and we accounted for 8 of them. I know Shelly well enough and I know
how hard she works. I didn’t want to try and explain all of this to her
and then ask her for something that would have to alter her work
routine. She had enough on her hands is what I thought. When Tom told
me what he’d done I kind of smiled. He’s a great guy and I know he
means well but I thought there was no way Shelly was going to alter her
Everyone in our box was more than satisfied with the view.
Frankly, as Kathie said, most of us had never sat in such great seats.
Sue and I had sat in the same box but on the opposite side of the hall
last year. We’d also had tickets to one of the smaller classical series
events that the PSO put on a few years ago. The box we were in on
Saturday night actually held a very poignant memory for me. During one
of the performances we attended a few years ago we heard Tchaidovsky’s
“Capriccio Italien.” It is first time I ever remember being overcome at
the symphony to the point that I sobbed. It was so sweet and moving and
though I’d heard it once or twice before, seeing it performed live and
in such close proximity to the musicians that I felt as though I was on
stage with them, was just overwhelming. So I knew what the view was
like from there. I remembered how amazing the performance from the twin
box across the hall had been for me last year. This was going to be one
As we sat down Kathie worried aloud that she might not be able to
see Billy when he came on stage. Oh my God! I nearly fell off my chair.
Sue was really quick and turned around to say “the great thing about
these seats is that we can move them around. If your view is blocked by
us we’ll shift the chairs for you.” I just patted Kathie on the hand
and let it drop.
The first movement went by too fast. I couldn’t stop crying. I
kept thinking about how much I love this music and, in these seats, it
was just too much. From the opening spine-tingling strains of “The
Prophecy,” through the simple beauty of Hobbiton, the wonderment of
Rivendell, to the majesty of Dwarrodelf, the powerful roller coaster
ride that is Moria, the painful grief of Boromir’s death, the sobering
realizations of “The Breaking Of The Fellowhip“ and the bittersweet
strains of “In Dreams.” It was so, so powerful. Sharon couldn’t stop
talking about Moria. It was incredibly powerful. The PSO and the choirs
were dead on and we couldn’t get enough of them.
…WOULD YOU, COULD YOU DO THIS?!
The first surprise happened when I returned to the box after
intermission. I had finally met a local Ringer named Carol who had come
to the concert with her family: husband, son and daughter. Her
daughter, Katrina, had just turned 13 and is a huge Billy fan. Carol
had contacted me to ask if going to the dinner would afford them a
chance to really meet Billy. They could only afford to send 2 of them
to the dinner and they couldn’t afford the premium seats to get into
the post-concert event. I told Carol that they would get to meet Billy
at the dinner so she came and ate at a table with a few of our friends.
Two of our friends, Jen and Joe, were at the table and got to know them
pretty well. Actually, we’ve known Jen for some time as she used to
sing in our church choir. It wasn’t until last year when we bumped into
each other at the LOTR concert that we became good friends. None of us
knew that the others were Ringers!
When I got back to the box after intermission Katrina was still
there. She had come down to take in the view after having been invited
to do so by Jen and Joe who had seats in our box. The arrangement of
the seating went like this: Sue and me with Sue on the inside at the
rail, Sharon and Kathie behind us respectively, Jen and Joe behind them
respectively, Joanne (Gavanna) and Tom (Tolman, Jr.) behind them
respectively and one other couple who Tom and Joanne befriended. I went
over to Katrina to remind her that time was growing short and that if
she didn’t get going she might not be able to get to her seat. That’s
when Jen hit me with a shock – Joe had switched seats with Katrina to
let her sit so close to Billy as he sang!!! I was stunned. Jen gave me
a very knowing look as if to say “don’t blurt it out because Katrina
doesn’t know anymore about this than Sharon and Kathie.” Oh my! What a
gift this young lady was getting and she didn’t have a clue. And what
about Joe?! What a sacrifice. I’m humbled by such generosity. It would
never, ever have occurred to me to do such a thing. Jen then pointed up
to the first balcony and Katrina said “see there’s my family.” And
sitting right in the midst of them was Joe waving and smiling. I still
can’t get over how generous and thoughtful a gift this was. What a
terrific thing to do.
…LIKE FRODO REMOVING THE RING
The lights dimmed and the crowd grew quiet. I kept waiting for
Shelly to show up and alert us. I now hoped that, somehow, she
wouldn’t. Katrina was on the edge of one of the best moments a young
lady like her could receive and I so hoped that it would play out in
secrecy. First there was one more question from behind me from Sharon –
“Is that microphone at the foot of the male choir going to be where
Billy sings from?” No, I assured her. It’s actually where the male
soloist sings Aragorn’s coronation. The next thing I know John Mauceri
strides onto the stage followed by the 3 vocal soloists who perform
down front. No Shelly! It’s too late for her to come in and say
anything. As this thought races through my mind the music begins. We’re
off to Moria again. All through the next sections of the concert I was
distracted. What if they changed their minds about having Billy sing in
this box tonight? Maybe he is going to sing from the stage. Maybe
someplace else. I didn’t know but now I was concerned that it might
have been changed.
On we go. Through the glory of Rohan, the sweeping, goose bump
producing “Lighting Of The Beacons.” On we go. I hear the stains of
“The Steward Of Gondor.” I know we’re getting close and then there he
is. I had heard nothing! He slipped in so quickly and quietly that he
could have been Frodo walking past me and removing the One Ring to
reveal himself. He was standing straight as an arrow with his back to
me. I could hear gasps behind me. I turned around and Kathie was nearly
a basket case. She started crying and holding her mouth to hold back
the noise. Sharon looked at me – stunned with tears starting to trickle
from her eyes. They were caught totally off guard! I glanced back and
Katrina was frozen to her seat. None of us were more than 10 feet away
The next thing I know the orchestra has faded down and gone quiet.
The spotlight comes up on Billy. I’m bathed in it just behind him. I’m
sitting there staring up at his back as he starts to sing “The Edge Of
Night.” Kathie’s managing to hold back her sobs. She’s making a
desperate effort to keep quiet. Billy seems completely unaware of us.
He’s totally focused on his song. He delivers it masterfully. It’s so
moving. What an incredible moment. I’m sitting there under the backwash
of this spotlight watching him and tears start rolling down my face. I
can’t believe this is happening. It’s such an incredible moment. He
starts into the last line – “…all….shall……fade…” Billy hangs his head.
The spotlight goes out, the orchestra is fading out the last few notes
and he’s leaving. I know I shouldn’t say anything but I whisper “that
was terrific Billy” under my breath and then he’s gone.
Our box could have used a Kleenex factory. Kathie now can’t hold
back some of her sobs. She’s trying but it’s a losing battle. We each
take turns patting her hand and comforting her. She’s completely
overcome. Katrina is doing well. She’s beaming from ear to ear. Sharon
is holding on but she’s totally stunned. It all happened so fast. She’s
looking at me and mouthing “I can’t believe this just happened.” Phew!
We all settle down as best we can for the rest of the concert.
…ONE LAST SURPRISE
The rest of the music is great but I’m still floating and not
really all there. It seems that way with a few around me too. The
orchestra finishes the last strains, the crowd erupts and we all jump
to our feet. Sharon is screaming “Bravo, bravo!’ Three curtain calls
BUT, as Billy comes out as part of the last curtain call, and the place
erupts all over again, I feel a tap on my shoulder. It’s Carl Mancuso!
He’s come to ask how I liked it. Carl is the manager of Heinz Hall and
I’ve formed a working relationship with him since I became involved
with the PSO’s efforts to bring the LOTR Symphony to Pittsburgh last
year. I start pumping his hand and thanking him. I asked Carl why
Shelly hadn’t come by to alert us about Billy. He smiled at me and said
“we knew that you already knew and so we felt we didn’t need to say
anything.” What a gift! They had preserved the moment and let the
surprise happen. He trusted in us enough to know not to let anything
interrupt or distract Billy from his performance. You can imagine that
this is no small thing. They have to take care of the artists – it’s
their job! So they had taken this risk and given us this amazing gift.
THANKS CARL FOR EVERYTHING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The post-concert event was one big blur. We all talked about how
much fun we’d had with each other and how amazing the PSO had sounded.
Billy showed up and Shelly repeated the move to the table with him that
she’d done earlier for the dinner. The line was long and Carl and
Shelly had to make sure that people didn’t keep getting back in line.
That had happened the night before with some people going back as many
as 3 times. That’s a bit unfair to Billy. He’s giving a lot of himself
and they wanted to make sure that he wasn’t held too late. A lot of
people in line asked me to get pictures of them with Billy. I wound up
with some 50 shots from the post-concert event.
Eventually I got into the end of the line myself. Carl was holding
down the back of the line to keep an eye out for people trying to go
back. When we got up to Billy Sue joined me and we turned our camera
over to Shelly to take our picture. As I got up to Billy I smiled and
thanked him and quickly recounted Joe’s generosity towards Katrina. He
got a big, shocked grin on his face. He also remembered me and my
tee-shirt and thanked me again! I certainly hadn’t expected him to
remember me. I showed him a copy of the post that was on TORn on
Saturday. It was short report with a few pictures from the Friday night
show. I told him that I looked forward to seeing more pictures of him
on TORn when he appears at ELF next month. I told him I hoped to see
him wearing my tee-shirt. He laughed and said “well, you never know.”
Then Billy signed my copy of the evening’s program and the TORn article
for Sue. They had used the picture of her with Billy for the front of
the article. We then got on each side of him and Shelly took our
picture. That’s when our Ringer friends who were standing there
watching all of this broke into The Hobbit Drinking Song for us! What a
great way to end the night.
We retired to the Renaissance Hotel’s bar where we sat up, again,
till almost 2:00 AM and decompressed. In attendance were Joe and Jen,
Tom (Tolman, Jr.), Rich (Kiing Lamoni), Sharon (Agape), Kathie (Tari),
Kris (KrisD), Joanne (Gavanna), Barb (Gondor’s Queen) and Sue and I. It
was so nice to have all of these people there and to savor the good
I can now pass along one thing I didn’t want to say before. We
accidentally bumped into Billy at the bar the night before. Shelly had
taken him and his sister Margaret there to relax after the show. I
didn’t know they were going to be there and I felt awful. I thought
Shelly would think that I had somehow followed them. We talked about it
on Friday night because just after we got there Billy got up to leave.
Shelly assured me that they had just been stopping by for a quick
nightcap. Well the same thing happened last night! I was proud of
everyone for showing restraint and not bothering him. Shelly dropped by
and gave me a little tap on the shoulder to say hi. She had been so
kind to me and treated all of us so well.
We’re leaving soon to go have a farewell meal together. It’s been
one incredible weekend. I’m so sorry it’s over but I have so much to be
thankful for. And thanks to all of you who have hung in there and read
Pictures from Saturday night: