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TORn "World Hobbit Day" Exclusive: Interview With Aivale Cole (nee Mabel Faletolu)

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Sep 25 2012, 2:30am

Post #1 of 18 (1457 views)
TORn "World Hobbit Day" Exclusive: Interview With Aivale Cole (nee Mabel Faletolu) Can't Post

As we wrap up our "World Hobbit Day" festivities, we at TORn are pleased to bring you one final piece of our celebratory specials via an exclusive interview with Aivale Cole (nee Mabel Faletolu).

For fans of Howard Shore and the music of The Lord of the Rings films, Aivale (credited as Mabel Faletolu on the soundtrack of The Fellowship of the Ring) perhaps needs no introduction. For the rest, you probably recall that most heartrending of voices that engulfs the broken Fellowship as they emerge from the darkness of Moria and grieve over Gandalf's fall into Khazad-dûm.

That piece was sung by none other than Aivale, a vocalist hailing from Wellington, New Zealand. Back in 2001, she recorded the solo piece with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

Join us in this exclusive interview as we catch up with Aivale who, after more than a decade, takes us back to that "crazy but exciting" time when she worked with Howard Shore and Peter Jackson, and also shares a rather amusing anecdote involving Ian McKellen.


It's been said that when Peter Jackson set out to work with Howard Shore on the music for The Lord of the Rings, he desired to have a cast of vocalists for the songs that would be sung during significant events in the films.

How did you come about to be a featured vocalist on The Fellowship of the Ring?


I was studying at the National Academy of Singing and Dramatic Art in Christchurch, New Zealand. I got a call from a friend, Igelese Ete, who was the choir director for the male choir* featured on the same album. He said that they were looking for a soprano with the right amount of richness in the voice for this particular part.

When all was approved then they arranged my flights and it was all go. No audition. Just got the job. Howard Shore had a lot of faith in Igelese so I had better get it RIGHT!! ARrrGH!!



Howard Shore's score mirrors the themes at the heart of The Lord of the Rings, and in the silent moments following Gandalf's fall into Khazad-dûm, your vocals lend voice to the themes of grief and loss that weigh upon the Fellowship.

What was your process of immersing yourself into the character who emotes these poignant themes?


Sir Peter explained the scene to me and what sort of feel he wanted with the singing. He wanted the singing to sound like a grieving spirit.

That is all he gave me and that is all I used. I hope I pulled it off ok.



Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens worked closely with Howard Shore on the lyrics for the songs that are sung throughout the films.

Although there are no words to the piece that you sang on The Fellowship of the Ring, did you interact with Fran or Philippa in any capacity?


No, I didn't interact with Fran or Phillippa. I interacted with Howard Shore and Sir Peter Jackson.

I had NO IDEA what the Lord of the Rings was. (I know! I know! Some people would have me stoned for not knowing the Lord of the Rings (including you Earl!) and I apologise to all you LOTR addicts out there).

Sir Ian McKellan was also there to see everything come together. I didn't interact with him but he did come to say hello to the choir. They went crazy around him and I stood there going "I sort of recognise him!" and I thought to myself "This guy is obviously famous that the guys are rushing to him."

And now? I WISH I was pushing my way through the male crowd to say hello and take a photo with my disposable camera! (I was a student and couldn't afford a cool phone camera back then!! HA!)



Could you tell us a bit about the process of rehearsing, and ultimately recording, the piece for Gandalf€™s fall?


Well I remember arriving and walking into the venue, and the orchestra and choir were sitting in preparation to begin recording.

My friend Igelese gave me this piece of manuscript with the 12 bars of music to learn. I went away for 10 minutes and plonked my part on the piano.

I walked back into venue and I recorded it over a few times interacting with Sir Peter, Howard shore and Igelese. There was a big screen running in the auditorium and there was a big screen in the green room where the real work was happening - playing the "Gandalf's Fall" scene so that the song I am going to sing is in sync with the movie.



You work primarily in opera, which is an entirely different medium than film.

What was your experience like working with Howard Shore and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra on a film like The Lord of the Rings?


It was a bit nerve racking. Walking into the venue and seeing the NZSO all set up below, and me in the gallery with the choir just looking at all the set up.

It was crazy but so exciting!

We are thankful to Aivale for her graciousness with her time, especially given her busy tour schedule during the period this interview was conducted.

For sound clips of Aivale's solo piece and other related soundtrack information, visit The Aivale Cole Interview.

(This post was edited by Earl on Sep 25 2012, 7:49am)

Superuser / Moderator

Sep 25 2012, 6:59pm

Post #2 of 18 (785 views)
It sounds like she had very little prep time [In reply to] Can't Post

before recording the track. I wonder if that's usual for film work?

Her singing in this section is heart-rending. Well done, Aivale. Heart

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauron’s master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded b*****d with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.

Ataahua's stories


Sep 25 2012, 8:11pm

Post #3 of 18 (780 views)
Excellent article, Earl [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm really excited to see another entry in what might become a series of articles on the artists in the soundtrack. (?) :-)

I love, love, love Aivale's vocals.

LOTR soundtrack website ~ magpie avatar gallery
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Ziggy Stardust

Sep 26 2012, 12:47am

Post #4 of 18 (763 views)
Hold on [In reply to] Can't Post

I thought somebody here on TORn said that the vocalist in Cocteau Twins did the vocals during Gandalf's fall? Or did she do vocals in another scene? Or am I mistaken entirely?


Sep 26 2012, 2:10am

Post #5 of 18 (790 views)
You're talking about Elizabeth Fraser who did the Lament for Gandalf [In reply to] Can't Post

...that is heard in Lothlorien and is presumed to be sung by the Elves.... when Legolas says he can't translate for the others because the 'grief is still too near.

Aivale sang the Hymn for Gandalf which is heard after the Fellowship have stumbled out of Moria and are still reeling from the shock.

LOTR soundtrack website ~ magpie avatar gallery
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Sep 26 2012, 2:38am

Post #6 of 18 (761 views)
She seems like a beautiful person [In reply to] Can't Post

I get chills (the good kind) just thinking about that lament... they're even more intense when I actually hear her sing. Never loses its power.

Thanks Earl.


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Thank you Magpie!

(This post was edited by SirDennisC on Sep 26 2012, 2:38am)

Forum Admin / Moderator

Sep 26 2012, 6:44am

Post #7 of 18 (776 views)
You're right Magpie [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm working on more of these and hope I can deliver *fingers crossed*


Forum Admin / Moderator

Sep 26 2012, 6:55am

Post #8 of 18 (757 views)
Aivale really is a wonderful person! [In reply to] Can't Post

She also has a very contagious sense of humour that I think comes through in some of her responses Cool

As to her singing, yes, I too get chills every time I hear that solo piece for Gandalf's fall. I've played it on the piano and found that those are some really high notes. From personal experience, I know how hard it can be to sing that high *and* convey emotion. Aivale did a such a good job of it Smile

Forum Admin / Moderator

Sep 26 2012, 7:13am

Post #9 of 18 (771 views)
She did have very little time to prepare... [In reply to] Can't Post

... it's crazy how she managed to do such a great job in that short a time, but that's probably a testament to her talent (and PJ and Howard Shore's abilities to elicit just the right emotion from the vocalists).

I don't know whether this is normal in the industry or not, but I've got the impression that after the success of FOTR, Shore and PJ could afford to take more liberties and spend more time refining these other aspects of the films that the studios might not really have given much weight to in the beginning. That's just the feeling I get though... I may be completely off.

Also, many of these vocalists aren't mainstream artists but stage performers who also do "session work" for films and such. I think the big name, recognizable singers, were really only used for the end credit songs. That might have also been a contributing factor.


Sep 26 2012, 3:33pm

Post #10 of 18 (765 views)
"Big name" vs "Unknown" [In reply to] Can't Post

Having (relatively) unknown - i.e., unrecognizable - voices singing in film parts such as in this scene kept me 'in the moment'. I didn't feel jarred by recognizing the voice singing.
It really did have that grieving unnamed spirit quality to it.
Actually I felt the same about the actors. I wasn't familiar with any of them beforehand, really, and I still think that was part of why I enjoyed the films so much.

Thanks Earl, looking forward to more of these interviews!


Sep 27 2012, 12:55am

Post #11 of 18 (763 views)
*heartfelt applause* [In reply to] Can't Post

Her voice made the emotion and devastation of Gandalf's loss for the Fellowship so much more intense and heartbreaking for me. I can't imagine what it would have been like without her. She's such a beautiful soul... and how generous of her to do this interview. I'm so happy someone from NZ... and especially Christchurch... was such a big part of the story.

Well done, Earl! Thank you so much for making that moment in the film much richer know that the soul who gave it "voice" is so wonderful :)

I really need these new films to take me back to, and not re-introduce me to, that magical world.

TORn's Observations Lists
Unused Scenes

(This post was edited by grammaboodawg on Sep 27 2012, 1:00am)

Forum Admin / Moderator

Sep 27 2012, 6:28am

Post #12 of 18 (749 views)
It was the same with me... [In reply to] Can't Post

... and I'm glad the actors in The Hobbit are once again pretty much unknowns (to me at least) and I haven't previously seen them in any iconic roles enough for it to tug me out of the moment.

It was the same with the singing too. I'd never heard Enya or Annie Lennox or anyone else sing before, so it was all "genuine Middle-earth" to me Cool

I'm glad there's a bunch of people that are liking these interviews. It gives me a little more motivation to even do them as it's not that easy making contact with these singers and pursing something like this.

Forum Admin / Moderator

Sep 27 2012, 6:33am

Post #13 of 18 (754 views)
Thanks gramma :) [In reply to] Can't Post

And yes, I can't say this enough, but Aivale really is a genuinely lovely person. Knowing that she's the person behind the voice makes the song all the more special to me too, she being just a student in good ol New Zealand back in the day.

By the way, Aivale was also really thrilled when she saw the interview had gone live. I gave her a link to this thread and she said she's now a TORn fan Cool


Sep 27 2012, 7:39am

Post #14 of 18 (766 views)
Probably one of the best moments in all three films [In reply to] Can't Post

And her voice is a huge part of why the scene is so good.

Nice to get to know her a bit.

Forum Admin / Moderator

Sep 27 2012, 7:45am

Post #15 of 18 (733 views)
True... [In reply to] Can't Post

... this is one of those instances where PJ "takes all the sound out". The scene is essentially carried through by just imagery and Aivale's vocals.

Another moment that affects me similarly is when the Eagles rescue Frodo and Sam. Once again, all you hear there is Renee Fleming's voice and nothing else.

Oooh! Shivers... Smile


Sep 27 2012, 7:25pm

Post #16 of 18 (737 views)
Oh, well done!! :D [In reply to] Can't Post

That makes me smile, BIG TIME! It's nice for someone like her to know that we care about her and appreciate her contribution so much. That's just cool, Earl!


I really need these new films to take me back to, and not re-introduce me to, that magical world.

TORn's Observations Lists
Unused Scenes


Sep 28 2012, 4:18pm

Post #17 of 18 (773 views)
Trailer moment [In reply to] Can't Post

Not long ago I was in a movie theater. When the lights went down and the trailers began, the first sound to be heard was "Gandalf's Farewell," the section of music that includes Aivale's heart-rending solo. I almost came out of my seat! I was so excited that I am not sure what movie the trailer was for (some Superman re-boot, perhaps,) but that LotR music was played in its entirety. Awesome, simply awesome.

I listen to LotR Soundtrack music all the time, and Aivale's solo is definitely an 'eye closer' moment for me. I enjoyed reading her account of how she came to be a part of the project. Thanks to Earl for the interview and to Aivale Cole for the enjoyment of listening to breathtaking music.

Forum Admin / Moderator

Oct 1 2012, 6:24am

Post #18 of 18 (1147 views)
Yes, it was used for the "Superman - Man of Steel" teaser [In reply to] Can't Post

Link here.

I listen to LotR Soundtrack music all the time, and Aivale's solo is definitely an 'eye closer' moment for me.

I get what you mean by an "eye closer" moment for me. It's a very tranquil piece of music and can engulf you even thought it's so short.

I'm glad you liked reading Aivale's answers. I did too Smile


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