FredO's Journal of the LOTR Symphony in Pittsburgh

by FredO

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 Night” live!

TUESDAY 7/19/05

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 comparison.

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 special treat.

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 2-hour concert.

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.

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.

FRIDAY 7/22/05

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.

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!


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!

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 so special.

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 not-too-distant future.

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:


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 afternoon!

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 wait!

Here’s some pictures:

SUNDAY 7/24/05

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.

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 routine.
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 fantastic night!
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.
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.
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 from him.
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.
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 times.
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 these updates.

Mae Govannen

Pictures from Saturday night: