Saturday, July 23, 2005

The True Story of How I Did Not Meet Billy Boyd

This is a true story. Swear to Ghu, even though we have no photos to back it up.

I bought a ticket to see the Pittsburgh Symphony perform "The Lord of the Rings Symphony" a few weeks back, after having been on the fence for a while. I bought a ticket the night Billy was announced as a performer, and went for the left box seats. The really neat box seats near the stage. His "Mist and Shadows" solo was a particularly lovely part of the music for Return of the King, and I wanted to hear it live.

A few days later, Sue (who goes by the name Eomer's Woman on The One and I started talking about getting together at the Pittsburgh concert. We met with her traveling companion Chris for lunch on Friday at Joe's Crab Shack which was fun.

On Friday night, we met up in the lobby of the concert, and found we were sitting in the same box! Wow, talk about a weird coincidence in a hall that seats about 2,000 people.

We went to the pre-concert Q&A: Billy Boyd, Conductor John Mauceri and local classical music commentator Ken Meltzer:

Just before the concert started, a Heinz Hall employee stopped up in our box. "Back up during the fifth movement of the symphony" she warned the two people in the front of the box. "Billy Boyd is performing his solo from this box."


So Billy was performing the world premiere of his live version of "Mist and Shadows" two seats in front of me, and three seats in front of Sue.


It was a major thrill, and he was great. But we couldn't take a picture or record it, for obvious reasons. So you'll just have to take our word for it.

I went to last year's LOTR Symphony in Pittsburgh, conducted by Howard Shore, and I was somewhat disappointed. The symphony wasn't as together as usual, and the "first" seat players were not to be seen. This year, John Mauceri, conducted a better performance. While the "first" seat players were still missing, the orchestra was much more together (after the first five minutes or so, which was kind of mushy). The Two Towers/Isengard part was stupendous - even better than the London Symphony version.

If you're in the area, this is definitely worth seeing. The first show was very close to being sold out (the hall was probably about 90% full).

Since I had bought the expensive tickets, it included a ticket to the post-show reception. I wanted to meet Billy, partially because I admired his LOTR work, but also because I wanted to get him an invitation to attend the upcoming Worldcon, which is in his hometown of Glasgow in less than two weeks.

During the reception, I spent time talking to other fans from The One Ring.Net, and talking a little to John Mauceri (the conductor) rather than standing in line to meet Billy. When it occured to me that I should stand in line, I started getting really, really tired (I have insomnia and have been averaging under 4 hours of sleep a night lately).

Now, it turned out that Sue and her friend Chris had gone to the pre-concert dinner. And they had wound up sitting at the same table for dinner as Billy Boyd and his sister from Glasgow. So I asked if she could show me who Billy's sister was. She could. I asked her to introduce us, and she did. Billy's sister has the most charming Scottish accent I've ever heard, and I handed her a letter from Interaction, and a small gift for Billy (a snapbook of some of my Return of The One Party photos).

(Note - this in no way means that Billy will be at Interaction, it just means he's been informed that the Interaction committee would like him to drop by.)

After I left the stuff with Billy's sister, I felt really tired so I walked back to my car and started it up, blasting the air conditioner. And then I got my second wind, so I went back and managed to get a fairly close-up picture of Billy:

Unfortunately, the autograph line was closed, so I had to be content with the photo.
Then, I found Sue, and partied with some fans after the reception. And here's our party, after the dinner, after the Q&A, after the concert, after the reception and before too much of the drinking got started. On The One Ring.Net, these folks are commonly known as DJDeathkiss, her husband, Wednesday Addams and Eomer's Woman (seated)

One of our partiers shared an elevator with Billy and his sister in the hotel. However, he was so flummoxed he forgot to invite Billy and his sister over for a drink... But we had a good time anyway! Most of us are going to try to be at the IndyMoot in October, to visit the LOTR museum exhibition.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Review of The Lord of the Rings Symphony performance for 7/22.

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