The Story of the Tolkien Ensemble
(Part 1) (Part 2) Part 3 (Part 4) (Part 5) (Part 6)
by Caspar Reiff
The Tolkien Ensemble press photo 2001. From the left: Peter Hall, Signe Asmussen, Morten Ryelund, Mads Thiemann, Caspar Reiff & Katja Nielsen
We were invited to perform at the premiere of Peter Jackson's The Fellowship of the Ring in Imperial Cinema in Copenhagen in December 2001. Among the celebrities who were to be present, was Christopher Lee, who played the part of Saruman in the movie. Therefore I decided to contact him and wrote a letter and enclosed our two CDs An Evening in Rivendell and A Night in Rivendell.
World famous actor Christopher Lee
A few weeks later Lee called me asking what it was I wanted him to do... I told him I would like to ask if he would be interested in taking the part of the narrator of the poems from The Lord of the Rings which were not described as songs. He could (of course) do that, but then he told me he was a singer also. I had for a long time wondered who I should ask to do the part of the character of Treebeard and Lee's voice would be perfect, so I asked Lee if he would like to sing Treebeard's Song. He agreed. (One of the important details we had to take care of was to actually write the music for Treebeards Song. Peter Hall did this and I arranged Peter's beautiful tune.)
Three months later, we were recording with Christopher Lee in Focus Recording Studios in Copenhagen.
I will never forget the first time I met Christopher Lee. He was staying at Hotel d'Angleterre in Copenhagen and I was waiting for him in the lobby of the hotel together with Britt Eldrup of SF Film, who helped me organising Lee's visit in Copenhagen.
The Tolkien Ensemble, Britt Eldrup and Christoper Lee and his wife, Gitte, went to a restaurant for dinner and the following day we had rehearsals and recordings.
From Focus Recording studios 2002, from the left: Peter Hall,
Caspar Reiff, Morten Ryelund & Christopher Lee
Christopher Lee, Caspar Reiff & Morten Ryelund
This recording was the beginning of a co-operation with Lee that would continue to include also live-performances, radio interviews and signing sessions. Also he has over the years been a very experienced advisor in various questions regarding agents and music business in general.
After the recordings with Christopher Lee in Copenhagen: from the left: Caspar Reiff, Katja Nielsen, Christopher Lee, Signe Asmussen, Morten Ryelund & Peter Hall.
At Dawn in Rivendell featuring Christopher Lee was released in the autumn of 2002. It was published in 30 countries by Universal Records and received outstanding reviews. International Herald Tribune wrote: 'Total Lord of the Rings Magic!'
The Tolkien Ensemble's third album: At Dawn in Rivendell published in 2002 (2002)
Lee and I made live interviews in London with BBC Radio 3 and Classic FM. Later in 2002
the Tolkien Ensemble went to England to perform, this time in Sheffield and Nottingham.
The Tolkien Ensemble press photo from 2002, from the left: Øyvind Ougaard, Caspar Reiff, Signe Asmussen, Morten Ryelund, Peter Hall & Katja Nielsen.
The growing success resulted in a need for management and Peter Hall and I made an agreement with Owit Music Europe Ltd. and Niels Estrup who set up a lot of concerts in Denmark for the Tolkien Ensemble. We also performed in Dunckers Music Hall in Helsingborg, Sweden, and in October 2002 we made a great CD-release concert in Tivoli Concert Hall in Copenhagen. Christopher Lee took part in this concert and he introduced the concert with the words: 'I stand here as a member of an ensemble, a group of people: dedicated, devoted people who have in their own specific way created something unique...'
Applause at Tivoli Concert Hall 2002. From the left: Morten Ryelund, Björn Blöndal, Caspar Reiff, Kurt Ravn, Christopher Lee, Morten Ernst Lassen, Signe Asmussen, Peter Halaburt, Peter Hall, Øyvind Ougaard & Tom McEwan (in the background: Copenhagen Young Strings and Chamber Choir Camerata)
In 2003 we were asked to perform for HM Queen Margrethe II and HRH Prince Henrik of Denmark. It was in connection with the Danish city of Svendborg's 750th anniversary and to us all a great pleasure and honour. It was a special feeling to perform our songs for The Queen as she had supported our project from the very beginning giving us permission to use her Lord of the Rings illustrations in our CD covers.
In 2004 Peter Hall and I were asked to be a part of a great Lord of the Rings concert in Concertgebouw, Holland. It was going to be a combined programme of music from the movie trilogy, our music and also the music of Johan de Meij. The Dutch conductor Jules van Hessen invited us to join his orchestra and Christopher Lee would be a major part of the concert.
Jules van Hessen persuaded Lee to perform Treebeard's Song live. It is a very difficult song to sing and Lee and I rehearsed until 15 minutes before the concert. On stage Lee made an absolutely wonderful live version of the song for a completely sold out Concertgebouw. In the second half of the concert Lee made an unforgettable narrator performance to the music of Johan de Meij's 1st Symphony based on The Lord of the Rings.
The Dutch conductor Jules van Hessen
2005 was the year when we could finally complete the recording of the remaining songs. This was done in a co-operation with Denmarks Radio Sinfonietta and Denmark's Radio Chamber Choir. All recordings were done in Denmark's Radio Studios with the brilliant sound engineer Peter Juul Kristensen. I decided it was to be entitled Leaving Rivendell.
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