Good Lord

Nerds take a lot of flak in modern society, but if there's one thing they deserve credit for, it's dedication. Nerd love is some pretty severe stuff, particularly in the worlds of sci-fi and fantasy, where devotees re-create episodes of Star Trek better than hicks can re-create Civil War battles and 12-sided die commonly rattle in pockets alongside Chewbacca key chains.

Of the many revered series in Nerdsville, perhaps none offers more to love than The Lord of the Rings. J.R.R. Tolkien's massive novels spent decades in relative obscurity, but they gradually picked up legions of die-hard fans thanks to a well-crafted universe filled with enough critters, beasts and battles to make the legends of King Arthur read like If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. Of course, the cult favorites grew into world-dominating legends with a box-office transformation, and profitable tie-ins such as special-edition DVDs and video games have proven in the past few years just how much loot Lord fans will snatch. That very devotion has allowed the Tolkien cash cow to branch out even further, most unexpectedly in the form of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra's latest performance, The Lord of the Rings Symphony, which bows Thursday and Friday night. But while the show may reek of an attempt to cash in, concertgoers should know that they're in for an aural experience that's pretty loyal to the series. The concert consists of a broad selection of pieces from the trilogy's lengthy score, which means songs will range from quieter romps through Hobbiton Village to massive, blasting battle anthems. "Massive" and "blasting" should fit the live performance, as we're assuming the 200-piece orchestra will pack enough instrumental wallop to do the score justice. The Dallas Symphony Chorus and Children's Chorus of Greater Dallas will also be on hand to re-create the vocal portions of the movies' scores, as will Hayley Westenra, a 17-year-old New Zealander who is enough of a vocal phenom in her home country to garner many questionably intrusive Web sites run by fans. If you must know, she owns a cockatiel named Zac.

Fans will likely enjoy the presentation as the DSO will perform behind a screen that plays storyboards, production art and sketches by creators of the movie trilogy. The art stills, which rotate during the performance to represent each song's scene in the movie, are completely spoiler-free, which should ease the worries of the two people in the crowd who bothered to attend a LOTR concert without seeing the films first. In fact, from the sound of things, fans have been delighting in LOTR live performances like this all around the country. Though the symphonies and choruses have varied in cities like Houston, Albuquerque and Hartford, the nerd reaction has been unanimously positive, as Internet fan sites have praised the power of the live performances. In fact, many of the nerds have been reduced to tears at the concerts. Of course, when you take that much flak from people, you can always use a good cry.

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sam Machkovech

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