The Wordless Music Chorus & Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood perform the film score of There Will Be Blood.
This past Saturday at the United Palace Theater, something …. different happened. Although this may not be the first instance of a live orchestra accompanying a movie (it could be, we didn’t check!), it was certainly the first including the genius that is Jonny Greenwood. Greenwood, most commonly known as being the mastermind of weird in arguably the most innovative band of our time, Radiohead, brought the crowds to this unique performance, but the brilliance that is the Wordless Music Orchestra made the event a night to remember.
However, this was not a Radiohead show, but I doubt any Radiohead fans left the theater disappointed. As if There Will Be Blood wasn’t intense enough, just imagine the film being shown on a gigantic screen (2nd largest in NYC) with the shadows of a 50+ member orchestra at its base. This coupled with the breath-taking splendor of the United Palace Theater, an historic Loews theater turned church, made the performance all the more impactful. (Yeah, we said church. They must have not known the film was a blatant ode to atheism.)
Although tickets to the event were a bit outrageous for essentially “a night at the movies”, the experience was one-of-a-kind. At times, you almost forgot there was an orchestra because they played so seemlessly with the film. Greenwood, himself, sat in the back center of the stage playing an ondes Martenot, an “electronic piano-looking thing” that sounds not unlike a theramin. It can be heard on various Radiohead tracks, and of course, the piercing wavy sounds that make the There Will Be Blood score so uneasily beautiful.
If you missed this, the Wordless Music Orchestra plans on making more live movie events, with the Godfather being next on its docket. If our wish comes true, they’ll eventually do a screening of 28 Days Later accompanied by Godspeed You Black Emperor!
More About the Event
For these shows, the film’s original score — comprising music by Jonny Greenwood, Arvo Pärt, and Brahms — was conducted by Ryan McAdams, and performed by 50+ members of the Wordless Music Orchestra, including Jonny Greenwood on the ondes martinet. Learn more at wordlessmusic.org