'Game of Thrones' composer brings immersive tour to United Center

 
 
Posted2/17/2017 6:00 AM
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  • This artist's rendering shows what lies in store for "Game of Thrones" fans at Wednesday's concert at United Center.

    This artist's rendering shows what lies in store for "Game of Thrones" fans at Wednesday's concert at United Center. Courtesy of BB Gun Press

  • "Game of Thrones" composer Ramin Djawadi and a full complement of musicians descend Wednesday upon the United Center to play epic melodies from HBO's hit show.

    "Game of Thrones" composer Ramin Djawadi and a full complement of musicians descend Wednesday upon the United Center to play epic melodies from HBO's hit show. Courtesy of BB Gun Press

  • Images from HBO's hit fantasy series will be part of the "Game of Thrones" Live Concert Experience at Chicago's United Center Wednesday, Feb. 22.

    Images from HBO's hit fantasy series will be part of the "Game of Thrones" Live Concert Experience at Chicago's United Center Wednesday, Feb. 22. Courtesy of HBO

Next week, the home of the Bulls and Blackhawks will be invaded by dragons, White Walkers and a live orchestra.

The "Game of Thrones" Live Concert Experience, featuring music and images from HBO's hit series, takes over the United Center at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 22. Tickets are available at ticketmaster.com.

"Game of Thrones" composer Ramin Djawadi will be among the performers for this multistage, multimedia celebration of Westeros. He calls the show an immersive experience. "You really feel like you're north of The Wall," he said in a phone interview, referring to the towering sheet of ice that separates the show's human heroes from the monsters that threaten to conquer them.

Born in what was then West Germany to a German mom and an Iranian dad, the 42-year-old Djawadi credits his parents' eclectic tastes for his success in film and television. He grew up on Western pop music, Middle-Eastern music, rock, jazz and more. "All of these things, I later realized, were actually all great inspiration for me, and as a film composer make me so much more versatile to be able to write in all these different styles," Djawadi said.

That versatility won the attention of legendary film composer Hans Zimmer, who hired Djawadi after he graduated from Berklee College of Music in 1998. He contributed additional music to scores written by Zimmer partner Klaus Badelt, including 2003's "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl," but his first big impact on audiences came in 2008 with his solo credit on "Iron Man."

Since then, Djawadi has dabbled in horror ("Fright Night"), sci-fi (HBO's "Westworld") and giant robots ("Pacific Rim") -- but his indelible, instantly recognizable theme for "Game of Thrones" stands apart.

You'll hear that theme Wednesday at the United Center. "There's obviously pieces that we'll have to play," Djawadi said, referring to, among other things, the mournful ballad "The Rains of Castamere" that acts as a harbinger of doom on the show. A video from Djawadi's rehearsals reveals a showstopping sequence set to the Season 6 finale's unforgettable melody, "Light of the Seven." Djawadi sits at the keys, joined by two singers and two string players. On screens above the stage, the disgraced mother of the king, Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), exacts her revenge on the pious High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) as green light engulfs the musicians.

"It was quite challenging, picking the music and picking an order for the show, how to summarize characters and themes," Djawadi said. "We just had so many ideas ... we just wanted to make it special." Those ideas include new arrangements of Djawadi's music that will debut on this tour, which begins Monday, Feb. 20, in St. Paul, Minnesota.

As for the forthcoming seventh season of the TV show, Djawadi says he's still waiting to see footage from executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. Will they finally give him a chance to strap on a guitar, the instrument he says he can play best?

"Last year we had piano for the first time, so you never know where it will take us next," Djawadi said. "That's the beauty of 'Game of Thrones,' there's always room for expansion and surprises -- in the music as well."

Season 7 premieres on a yet-to-be announced date this summer, and Djawadi is as excited as the fans. "Every season I'm blown away."

• Daily Herald correspondent Jim Ryan contributed to this report. You can hear portions of Jim and Sean's interview with Ramin Djawadi on "The Rock N' Roll Radio Program," 3 p.m. Sunday at wimsradio.com.

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