A few thousand people were lucky enough to be at the Rose Garden Tuesday for a thrilling live musical performance set in J.R.R. Tolkien's wonderscape of Middle Earth. Those two elements (live music + Middle Earth) may have never existed together for the race of mankind to enjoy but for someone's great idea to perform Howard Shore's "Lord of the Rings" score live while Peter Jackson's tour de force, "The Fellowship of the Ring" played in the background. Whoever came up with that idea, well, I know a few thousand people in Portland would like to say thank you. 

That's because, even for those who don't know the Mines of Moria from the Shire, that is to say, non-Tolkien fans, seeing the LOTR music played live is nothing less than a transcendant experience. The music is just that good. The themes, so like many found in the Harry Potter saga, so perfectly fit the narrative that to see themonstage together in a live performance just makes them both that much more alive. Add to that the sheer talent of those bringing the music off the page: the Munich Symphony Orchestra, flanked by the Pacific Chorale, and Phoenix Boys Choir added up to a sum total of nearly 200 performing musicians on stage at once. All of them sat underneath a giant 60 foot screen showing the film, framed in iridescent green and gold curtains from ceiling to floor (of the Rose Garden! Even the curtains were cool.) Celebrated Maestro Ludwig Wicki, the preeminent conductor of Howard Shore’s Ring music, conducts all performances, and this was no exception. Special credit to soprano Kaitlyn Lusk, who gave nothing less than a stirring performance - she truly elevated the experience. Moments you may have taken for granted when you caught the second half of Fellowship on cable one Saturday instantly regained all the magic they ever had and more when she sang. Adding to the magic were the several movie props on display, including a full-sized orc, an ominous-looking black rider, and even a couple of prosthetic hobbit feet.

This isn't the only chance you'll have to see and hear a live performance like this, though you won't get the chance to see Fellowship again. This event, which is officially called The Lord of the Rings In Concert: The Fellowship of the Ring kicked off a three-year celebration during which each of the three Academy Award®-winning films will be performed In Concert upon the tenth anniversary of its release. The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) will tour in 2011, The Two Towers (2002) in 2012, and the grand finale, The Return of the King (2003), in 2013.

We may be showing a bias, but this performance was inarguably magical for fans who speak Elvish and Tolkien-newbies alike. And if you have anything in common with the precocious 13-year-old girl who during intermission debated with her dad the merit of Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn, that is to say, if you liked the movies even a little bit, it's probably a safe bet that you will love the live concert performance. 2012 can't come soon enough.