Howard Shore’s Notable Journey from Lighthouse to The Forest

Miloš Karadaglić © Photo: Andy Earl, Mercury Classics

Attending intermission chats and open rehearsals are one of the many benefits donors receive when they support performance, creation and learning across Canada through the National Arts Centre Foundation.

On May 1, NAC Foundation supporters experienced a truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity when they heard multiple award-winning Howard Shore’s composition The Forest: Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra in rehearsal before its world premiere that evening.

The Forest, commissioned by Alexander Shelley and the NAC Orchestra, and written for classical guitarist Miloš Karadaglić, mesmerized the audience, ushering them through the forest near Howard Shore’s home and of their imaginations. Following the rehearsal, NAC Foundation supporters were delighted to hear from Howard Shore himself, and had the chance to ask him questions.

Howard shared that he was interested in composing from the beginning of his career. A member of the jazz fusion band Lighthouse from 1969 to 1972, the young Howard played alto-saxophone. However, it quickly became apparent to him the he preferred to create music, rather than play it. With nature as a rich source of inspiration, Howard is one of today’s premier composers whose music is performed in concert halls around the world by the most prestigious orchestras and is heard in cinemas across the globe.

Howard told the audience that when he composes the score for films, such as the famous Lord of the Rings trilogy, and writes compositions based on literary works, he lets images flow through his mind and creates the music based on what he visualizes. The Forest, on the other hand, is a “pure composition.” Howard wrote The Forest specifically for leading classical guitarist Miloš Karadaglić, seeking to express the beauty of the instrument. Howard shared that when he writes for artists, he studies them before he begins composing. For example, he pays attention to how they breathe and how they carry themselves.

In answer to a question from a member of the audience, Howard confided that he does not play the guitar. As millions of classical music fans, movie lovers and NAC supporters who watched a new composition come to life, Howard is truly a master of his chosen instrument, the mighty pencil.

A special thank you to our Open Rehearsal and Preview Sponsor, Rob Marland, Royal LePage Performance Realty who makes these sessions possible for NAC Foundation donors.

Join more than 6,500 champions of performance, creation and learning by supporting Canadian artists, educators and students through the NAC Foundation.


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