At 6:30 pm, the Toyota Music Factory began to swell with a crowd of ice-blonde wigs, billowing cloaks, and graphic t-shirts that said “I drink and I know things.” Starks, Targaryens, Lannisters, and Baratheons filled the pavilion to enjoy a symphony of ice and fire. A surprising voice-over from Queen Cersei Lannister herself reminded the crowd of audience etiquette and warned that those who did not abide would be “boiled alive in the blood of their children.” Classic. Then cellist Cameron Stone played those first four measures that welcome fans back to Westeros.
Conductor Michael Sobie led the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and six touring soloists through Ramin Djawadi’s exquisite compositions. Nayanna Holley’s heart-rending performances of “Rains of Castamere” and “Jenny of Old Stones” gripped the audience, and her vocals through the rest of the show were transcendent. The violin and cello are prominent in the GoT score and musicians Molly Rogers and Cameron Stone brought passion to every piece.
The “Battle of the Bastards” piece was a thrilling display of the raw intensity Djawadi intended. The underlying soft, forecasting notes from the brass section, blending with the steady, rhythmic rise from percussion, contrasted beautifully with the discordance of the violin and cello’s sharp, broken, and grinding notes. As the two armies clashed, the music hit its crescendo and all instruments found harmony in a heart-pounding flurry of sound and movement. Just like the cinematography of the battle, the music was as jarring as it was breathtaking.
Each major Game of Thrones plot shift had a dedicated song, all of which received strong reactions from the crowd. Most notably, the pavilion erupted in cheers and applause as the song “Winds of Winter” played over a series of revenge highlights.
Game of Thrones is known for its dramatic visual effects and the live concert experience didn’t disappoint. Holley and Rogers had multiple costume changes, flames punctuated the percussion when dragons were on screen, fog curled around every instrument, and flurries of confetti snow blew as the audience was transported beyond the wall. It was a visual feast from start to finish. Violinist Molly Rogers’ performance of “Goodbye Brother” was stunning even before she ascended into the rafters to represent the Weirwood tree.
The show was as much a love letter to the fans as it was an exhibition of Djawadi’s talent and vision. Every moment was crafted to invoke a different emotion and allowed the fans to experience Game of Thrones in a new and deeper way, as if Djawadi is telling the viewer, “You’ve seen the show. You know the show. Now, feel the show.” And feel it, we did! Just like Jenny of Old Stones, I never wanted to leave.
– Lindsey Nelson
Photos by Ralph Larmann