Jonny Greenwood, guitarist with Radiohead, has been garnering some solo attention recently. He’s the composer for the soundtrack to There Will Be Blood. The movie has garnered Oscar attention (and nominations), although not for the music. Time magazine had a brief, positive blurp about the music. The BBC review of the soundtrack (pre-movie release) was mixed. From what I’ve seen of the trailer, the music is very effective.
Wordless Music produced the U.S. premiere of Greenwood’s Popcorn Superhet Receiver last week (which a great deal of the soundtrack for Blood is based on). There was a pre-concert article in the NY Times, and a concert review.
Wordless Music delves into genre mixing, with a philosophy that there is common ground between experimental classical and experimental rock and jazz. Usually there is a pairing of rock with classical chamber music. This concert made the juxtaposition of Greenwood’s works with two early minimalist pieces by John Adams and Gavin Bryars. While this pairing might not have made the most sense (Greenwood’s piece isn’t really minimal at all), the concert series has been a success. It’s also worth noting that Greenwood isn’t dabbling, like a Paul McCartney or a David Byrne (of the Talking Heads). Greenwood is trained violist with an avid interest in the music of Olivier Messiaen. While he sometimes develops his orchestral works through multi-layered improvisations in the recording studio, he handles all aspects of orchestration and notation himself. And the genre mixing seems to be paying off. The concert review notes the most recent performance was “packed.” And as I’ve posted before, younger audiences are interested in classical concerts that feature music by composers closer to their age, not the mindless classical pop that older symphony boards think will draw them in.