DESKTOP
TABLET (max. 1024px)
MOBILE (max. 640px)
Return to Top
Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

SCRUTINY | Game of Thrones Live Cuts Deeper Than Swords

By Brian Chang on March 5, 2017

Game of Thrones Live (Photo: Brian Chang)
Game of Thrones Live (Photo: Brian Chang)

Game of Thrones Live at the Air Canada Centre. March 3.

“Dracarys”. Fire spouts from the stage, it’s a hot flash that can be felt well back into the Air Canada Centre. This is Game of Thrones Live, and there’s fire on stage, lots of fire. There’s a split second of stunned silence before cheers of enjoyment start up. More fire spews forth, some of it from the bottom of the giant 40-foot tall screens, following the dragons on screen as they burn through the slavers of Meereen. There’s a massive stage in the centre of the ACC that stretches across the arena. On one end, an orchestra and choir, four wings in the middle, and a far stage that rises. This entire concert is an incredible musical and visual experience.

Game of Thrones has radically changed the TV landscape with its detail, gore, and attention to the story. But no television show or movie is complete without its accompanying soundtrack. Ramin Djawadi has scored all the music of Game of Thrones six seasons. Three years ago he began the journey of the concert experience along with the showrunners David Benioff, D.B Weiss, and LiveNation. Toronto audiences were lucky stops on the limited North American tour.

This is a concert unlike any other. Pyrotechnics and technical magic meet classical music in a fundamental shift away from how music is normally presented. Huge screens display clips of the show, designs and art, and live shots of the musicians in action. The marrying of the music to the visuals that inspired them is fantastic. It is hard to imagine either being successful without each other. There is no greater connection to music than the stories they tell. Djawadi is exceptional at conveying the story with his music. We understand and feel the impact of the story because his music helps us there.

The song “Hold the Door” is one such example. The stirring string lines are punctuated with drums that keep the music driven and insistent. It breaks way to pitch bending in the cello before settling into a heart breaking theme for Hodor’s death. In this beloved series, there is no shortage of powerful stories and stirring musical themes that accompany them from the massacre of the Red Wedding, to Jon Snow and Ygritte’s love, to Khaleesi becoming the Queen of Dragons, to Arya and her trusty sword, Needle.

A lot of the compositions feel familiar because they play off of the main theme. There is a recurring interval, down a fifth, minor third up, full tone up, full tone up, back down a fifth — by and large, this is the opening theme. Djawadi uses it in different keys, different instruments, and different time signatures throughout the stories he’s telling. We hear bits of it often in many of the songs attributed to Daenerys and the themes of the Stark children at various times.

The show travelled from Montreal to Toronto and was set up in less than 24 hours. They will be in Boston on Monday. It’s a whirlwind of a tour with an incredible amount of technical work that wraps up on April 2nd, 2017, just in time for Djawadi to begin work scoring the upcoming 7th season; premiering later this summer. Djawadi gave us some stats about the tour: 8 buses to move crew and performers, 15 semi-trucks to move the stage and equipment, 136 speakers to bring the music to life.

There are 19 locally-hired singers (from That Choir) accompanying a freelance orchestra of about 40 with eight staple performers conducted by Djawadi. Djawadi, unlike many of his contemporaries, does not shy away from including choral voices in his work. To be fair, there’s not much that seems to not make it into his work period. The numerous instruments, the diverse sound — it’s all signature to his compositional style and makes for incredibly interesting music.

Of the band traveling with Djawadi, there are three on percussion, providing a literal heartbeat to the music. If there’s a sure thing about Djawadi’s compositions, it’s that they have percussion. There two players with key themes on the cello and violin, but it is the cello that defines a lof of the iconic sound of Djawadi’s Game of Thrones work. After all, the main theme is on cello. In a lot of Djawadi’s other work, the soundtrack to Westworld for example, piano features heavily. The keyboardist takes the reins of the orchestra when Djawadi steps away to play instruments, which he does — organ, piano, guitar, and hammered dulcimer amongst others. But it is the ethnic flute player, Pedro Eustache, who gets the bulk of the praise. On Armenian duduk, bass flute, ocarina, flute, pan flute, and more, he brings life to instruments and sounds that Djawadi uses throughout his pieces.

Huge entertainment events like this don’t come around very often. I hope you were one of the 19,000 who got to experience this mega-event. If you haven’t, check out the many clips fans have posted on Youtube under #GameofThronesLive.

For more REVIEWS, click HERE.

#LUDWIGVAN

Brian Chang

Brian Chang is Toronto-based choral writer. He is an active choral performer in Toronto singing with the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and Incontra Vocal Ensemble and serves as a trainer with the Institute for Change Leaders at Ryerson University.

Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300
comments powered by Disqus

Ludwig Van Toronto

CRITIC'S PICKS | Classical Music Livestreams You Absolutely Need To See This Week (Sept. 14 – 20)

By Joseph So on September 14, 2020

Classical music and opera events streaming on the web for the week of September 14 – 20.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300

FEATURE | Glenn Gould: A Musician for Our Times

By Holly Harris on September 21, 2020

Glenn Gould’s closest confidantes talk about their memories, and what lessons we might learn from his life in the post-COVID-19 world.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article

LEBRECHT LISTENS | John Williams’ No-Star Wars

By Norman Lebrecht on September 4, 2020

'John Williams in Vienna' is a first — a record that resists categorisation, where one star would be an insult, two stars a gross over-estimation.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_low_590x300
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700

We have detected that you are using an adblocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we earn by the advertisements is used to manage this website. Please whitelist our website in your adblocking plugin.