Emma Horwood – Songs of Middle Earth – Adelaide Fringe 2011

Emma Horwood takes her love of the works of J. R. R. Tolkien to another level with a concert of songs setting the poetry found in The Lord of the Rings.


Presented by Emma Horwood
Reviewed Saturday 19th February 2011


Venue: Radford Auditorium, Art Gallery of SA, North Terrace, Adelaide

Season: 7pm Sun 27 Feb 2011
Duration: 90mins
Tickets: adult $22/conc $18
Bookings: FringeTix 1300 FRINGE (374 643) all Venue*Tix outlets or at the door or http://www.adelaidefringe.com.au

Emma Horwood takes her love of the works of J. R. R. Tolkien to another level with a concert of songs setting the poetry found primarily in The Lord of the Rings. One more comes from The Hobbit and one other was unpublished until after his death. Appropriately, Horwood accompanies herself on the harp for most of the songs, an instrument often mentioned in the novel.

Horwood appeared clad in a floor length, forest green dress, looking serenely Elvish. Trails of ivy covered the lectern and music stand, adding to the pastoral feel of the evening.

The BBC produced a radio play in 1981 and, for this 26 episode series, the music was composed by Stephen Oliver (1950-92), including settings of many of the poems. Horwood has transcribed six of these and included them in this concert. Only the overture has ever been published, as a piano reduction.

Donald Swann (1923-94), of Flanders and Swann fame, also set many of the poems in 1967, working closely with Tolkien on the project to be sure that the music was compatible with what Tolkien had in mind. His setting of Upon the Hearth the Fire is Red was also included. This, of which I am fortunate enough to own a copy, is the only published collection of settings of Tolkien’s poetry.

The remainder of the concert consisted of more recent pieces by Helen Cartridge, who was present at the concert and acknowledged at the end, Judith Clingan, Andrew Close and a setting of Elbereth by Carl Crossin written especially for her.

Between songs Horwood read short sections from the books to set up the next piece, creating charming characterisations for the speakers, from the deep “Hroom” of Treebeard the Ent to the regional accent of Sam Gamgee.

Within all of this was the wonderfully clear and expressive soprano voice of Emma Horwood, sometime a capella and sometimes accompanying herself with fine arrangements for the harp, most written by herself. Her performance was riveting, the audience enthralled by her superb interpretations and captivated by her readings.

Whether you know and love the works and poetry of Tolkien or not, you will be thrilled by this magical (no pun intended) concert by this highly acclaimed artist. Hurry, as seating is limited.

Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor, Glam Adelaide.

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