LA Philharmonic

by Jonathan on February 3, 2003

In August 2001, it was rumored that Radiohead and the Los Angeles Philharmonic were planning on doing something together. Conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen even stated that he had dinner with the band and discussed such a collaboration.
In a recent interview with the LA Times, Salonen talks more about his love for rock music and Radiohead. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

It was later, when Salonen was around 30, that he came to listen to rock more seriously, as something more than just background music to good times.
“I think it had to do with my feeling that European Modernist music had come to a cul-de-sac,” he says. “There was nothing below the chin. There was a certain type of energy I discovered in rock and pop music, a focus on how the body reacts to music as opposed to how the intellect reacts.”
The breakthrough came a few years ago, with Radiohead’s alienated, sometimes drifty 1997 LP. “When I heard ‘OK Computer,’ after five minutes I said, ‘I actually get this. I understand what these people are trying to do.’ And what they were trying was not so drastically different from what I was trying to do.”
Salonen met the band’s Colin and Johnny Greenwood for dinner one night when he was in London. “Out of this old habit I started speaking to them about classical music the way you do with an aunt of 85 years old, assuming they know nothing. But, of course, in two minutes I realized these guys know perfectly well. They were sort of amused when I said, ‘Have you heard about this French composer Olivier Messiaen?’ And Johnny Greenwood said, ‘Yes, I own a couple of his old Ondes-Martenots” — rare early electronic keyboards.
Radiohead is popular among many intellectuals. Brainy jazz musician Brad Mehldau has recorded the band’s songs, classical pianist Christopher O’Riley has performed a recital of them. The latest American Musicological Society conference included several academic papers on the Oxford group.
But Salonen says he’s attracted to the band not just for musical and intellectual reasons, but also because they move him emotionally. He hopes to collaborate with the group in some form. “They’re not predictable, and the form is not boring. There’s a sense of humor and self-irony in the music, which is very rare in the world of rock and pop because those people take themselves very seriously. It’s really refreshing to hear a little bit of distance.”
Read the full article…

(thanks to Mia, David, Richfield, & Brandon)



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