Jonny Greenwood's Suite from There Will Be Blood features in Indies & Idols, which plays in the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall on Sunday 16 June. The following is an excerpt of Anwen Crawford's essay from the show's programme and was originally published here.
“This program does not look friendly on paper,” laughs Anna Melville, artistic administrator of the Australian Chamber Orchestra. Cast your eye down the running order and you’ll find “a lot of names”: consonant-heavy Polish names that carry with them the faint threat of atonality and avant-gardism, and other names that may look familiar but are possibly, in this context, out of place.
Melville says “this is one of those programs that’s greater than the sum of its parts. It’s really about how it’s all going to work together.” And that, Artistic Director Richard Tognetti says, is “the idea – this was really the genesis of the program, not any particular piece – of bringing a generation of contemporary composers together with their influences”. Indies and Idols is a program about musical inheritance, inheritance over time and across boundaries that may be more porous than they first appear. Some of those boundaries are between the “classical” and “popular”, for instance, a boundary that Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead thinks has “been blurred for decades”.
Of the three contemporary composers whose work is included in this program, it is Jonny Greenwood who has the most well-established relationship with the ACO. His work has featured in the Orchestra’s concert repertoire times, and in 2012 he undertook a three-month appointment as the ensemble’s composer-in-residence, during which time he wrote Water, a “hypnotic piece”, in Tognetti's words, for flute, upright piano, chamber organ, tanpura and string orchestra.