Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood Gets Classical — Again!

You’ve heard him sound off in Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood, The Master and Inherent Vice, as well as the movies Bodysong, Norwegian Wood and We Need to Talk About Kevin. You may also have heard him smear for the London Sinfionetta or give “48 Responses to Polymorphia” with Krzysztof Penderecki. And, yes, you’ve heard him make glorious noise with an outfit known as Radiohead.

His name of course is Jonny Greenwood, and this Wednesday you’ll be able to hear the many-faceted multi-instrumentalist further expand his sonic palette when the Australian Chamber Orchestra performs their collaborative “Water” at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.

We got with Jonny Greenwood in advance of the US Tour premiere’s South Florida stop. Here’s what he had to say:

How does it feel to be bookended by the likes of Haydn, Mozart and Prokofiev?

Like a cartoonist – or graffiti artist – getting into an art gallery. I don’t belong there especially, but I’m excited to be in the company of the real thing….

Do you think it’s important to have Water appear on a program with classic classical composers?

It’s pretty glorious when the ACO play Haydn, Prokofiev etc. – and I enjoy diversity in a concert.

Speaking of legends, whose idea was it to source Philip Larkin?

Source? I just knew the poem well, and the sounds and textures we were experimenting with during workshops in Sydney suggested that poem, especially the last couplet.

What is it about the poem “Water” that you find inspiring?

That it’s by turns amusing, absurd and in the last couplet beautifully descriptive.

Might your Water also in some respects nod to Handel’s Water Music?

Only in title. Wasn’t Handel’s written to accompany a boat parade? Or something in the Thames….

Will you be joining the ACO on tanpura on any of the U.S. dates?

No, I have to record with Radiohead.

Have you been tempted to pick up the viola and sit in with the ACO?

No, it’d be like shooting hoops with some NBA star – sounds like a fun idea, but the reality would embarrass us all….

Penderecki’s got a rather compelling Viola Concerto, have you spoken with Tognetti about one day perhaps bringing that to an ACO program?

The ACO are more of a large chamber group than full orchestra – though of course the’d play any Penderecki with real style. They certainly had no problems with the microtonal stuff in “Water”.

Have you and Penderecki plans to follow-up 2012’s 48 Responses to Polymorphia?

I last saw him in Poland in November – didn’t make any plans, but we’re still in touch so you never know.

The Australian Chamber Orchestra performs Jonny Greenwood’s “Water” and other compositions Wednesday, April 22 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. For more information log on here.

WORDS BY John Hood 


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