The Daily Swarm can exclusively reveal that Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood is set to have his United States orchestral debut in New York City on January 16–17, 2008, when the Wordless Music Series presents its first program with a full orchestra. The piece, Popcorn Superhet Receiver, a BBC commission, had its world premiere by the BBC Concert Orchestra and Robert Ziegler in April 2005. For its U.S. premiere, the work has been revised by the composer and will be performed by a string orchestra comprising 18 violins, 6 violas, 6 cellos, and 4 double basses.
Popcorn Superhet Receiver will be performed at New York’s historic St. Paul the Apostle church on a program with music exploring the subjects of religion, technology, and modernity by contemporary composers, also including John Adams (“Christian Zeal and Activity”) and Gavin Bryars (“The Sinking of the Titanic”). The performances will also mark the debut of The Wordless Music orchestra, led by conductor Brad Lubman, known for his work conducting the Steve Reich Ensemble. The ensemble will feature a one-time gathering of 40 instrumentalists, drawn from New York’s classical and new-music community, including members of noted groups Alarm Will Sound and So Percussion.
In 2004, Greenwood was made Composer in Residence with the BBC Concert Orchestra. The first fruit of this association was Popcorn Superhet Receiver; the piece was inspired by radio static and the extended, dissonant chords of Polish composer Penderecki’s Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima. Popcorn Superhet Receiver won the BBC Radio 3 Listeners’ Award at the 2006 British Composer Awards, and, as part of the award, Greenwood received funding from the PRS Foundation towards the commission of a new orchestral work which is currently in progress.
The 2007–8 season of the Wordless Music Series, which brings together classical and contemporary rock and electronic artists in nontraditional chamber-music spaces, will feature performances from Do Make Say Think, Beirut, Mum, Colleen, Nico Muhly, Valgeir Sigurdsson, Sandro Perri, Bing and Ruth, Hauschka, Torngat, and Electric Kompany, among others. Also appearing will be classical artists and ensembles performing the music of Bach, Chopin, Scriabin, Arvo Part, Gyorgy Ligeti, and Bela Bartok, as well as contemporary composers John Adams, Gavin Bryars, Osvaldo Golijov, Jacob TV, Nick Didkovsky, and Marc Mellits.
Tickets for the Jonny Greenwood performances will go on sale later this week. Check the Wordless Music Series website for full details on the series and tickets for all performances.