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PR OM 39 FRIDAY 14 AUGUST 7.30pmc9.55pm

Jonny Greenwood Popcorn Superhet Receiver Stravinsky Apollo 30interval: 20 minutes


Sir Harrison Birtwistle The Mask of O rpheus The Arches*O rpheus (the man) Alan Oke tenor O rpheus (the myth) Thomas Walker tenor Euridice (the woman) Christine Rice mezzo-soprano Euridice (the myth)/Persephone Anna Stphany mezzo-soprano Hecate Claron McFadden soprano Charon/Caller/Hades XXXXXXX baritone Fury 1/ W oman 1 Rachel Nicholls soprano Fury 2/ W oman 2 Anna Dennis soprano Fury 3/ W oman 3 Louise Poole mezzo-soprano First Judge Christopher Gillett tenor Second Judge Hkan Vramsmo baritone Third Judge Tim Mirn bass Ian Dearden sound projection Tim Hopkins director BBC Singers Stephen Betteridge chorus master BBC Symphony Orchestra Andrew Haveron leader Martyn Brabbins conductor Ryan Wigglesworth 2nd conductor *


This concert is being broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 (repeated on Monday 24 August at 2.00pm) and live on BBC Four. It is audio-streamed live via the BBC Proms website at and available via the BBC iPlayer for on-demand listening for seven days after broadcast.


W elcome to Prom 39W e continue our celebrations of Sir Harrison Birtwistles 75th birthday, which fell last month. At its 1986 premiere his opera The Mask of Orpheus, exploring a myth that had long obsessed him, was hailed as a masterpiece, a view that has only been confirmed in the intervening time. Tonight we hear its central act, O rpheuss imagined journey to the underworld, through 17 arches. More Greek mythology, this time Stravinskys Apollo. This was a seminal piece in many respects his first ballet not written for Diaghilev and his first commission from the USA. Artistically, too, it marked an unexpected change in direction, swapping hardedged formalism for string orchestra textures. The intriguingly titled Popcorn Superhet Receiver gives the strings of the BBC S O another chance for a workout. Radiohead frontman Jonny Greenwood wrote it during his time as the BBC Concert O rchestras Composer-in-Association and it tonight receives its Proms premiere.

J O N NY GREEN W O O D (born 1971)

Popcorn Superhet Receiver, for string orchestra(2005, rev. 2007)FIRST PERFORMANCE AT THE PROMSFor Radiohead followers, Jonny Greenwoods music for classical performers is another world. For a traditional Proms audience, it may well sound more accessible than Radiohead. Listeners to a broad spectrum of contemporary music, on the other hand, will be fascinated to find that Popcorn Superhet Receiver inhabits an expressive climate that could shade off in either direction, with due allowance for technique and instrumentation. The piece emerged from Greenwoods stint as resident composer with the BBC Concert Orchestra, which workshopped it during composition. There was plenty of trial and error, the composer reported later, while he researched ways of approximating the sounds he imagined. The orchestra premiered it in London on 23 April 2005, conducted by Robert Ziegler, and it went on to win the BBC Radio 3 listeners prize at the 2006 British Composer Awards. In 2007 part of it went into Greenwoods score for the Paul Thomas Anderson film There Will Be Blood, and a revised, slightly shortened version was played across the USA during 2008. A superheterodyne receiver is a radio or TV that changes the frequency of the signal. One of the experiences forming the musics soundscape is white noise, like the blast of across-the-frequencies sound that you pick up when tuning a pre-digital radio. Another is Krzysztof Pendereckis dense sliding clusters of sound, a middle ground between noise and chords, for the 52 solo strings in his 1960 classic Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima. More intriguingly, Greenwood wrote for a previous performance that onDaniel Day Lewis, the hard-nosed prospector in Paul Thomas Andersons 2007 film, There Will Be Blood

The BBC Proms are broadcast live on BBC Radio 3. Please remember that coughing, eating and drinking can spoil the concert for both artists and listeners. Please stifle coughing as much as possible, especially during quiet music.

Please turn off all mobile phones, pagers and watch alarms. The use of cameras, video cameras and recording equipment is strictly prohibited. For reasons of safety and comfort, only small bags are permitted in the Arena. Please note that if you leave the auditorium during the performance you will only be readmitted when there is a suitable break in the music.




A slow blur of rich, saturated chords starts to let through faint solo instruments, first tentative and then stronger. Later, the chords fade and wisps of inner detail are left floating. Eventually Greenwood sets up a rhythm with toneless plucks and slaps while a pizzicato tune evolves over it. Whatever the workshops may have done to fine-tune his acoustic experiments, they left the score with an impressive mastery of glissando slides, snapped Bartk pizzicato, and a steeply shaped exponential crescendo. But the music keeps its essential primacy of feeling over guile, an elusive quality that rock musicians can strive for without success and many contemporary composers self-consciously shun.

Programme note Robert MaycockRobert Maycock writes for The Independent and BBC Music Magazine, among others, and has special interests in French, contemporary and world music. His book on American composer Philip Glass was published in 2002 (Sanctuary).

Born in Oxford on 5 November 1971, Jonny Greenwood attended Abingdon School where he, his brother Colin and three friends formed the band On a Friday named for the day they could use the music room. He played keyboards, later lead guitar. The youngest member, he began a psychology and music degree at Oxford Brookes University but abandoned it once the band began attracting music business attention. In 1991 it made a sixalbum deal with EMI, changing its name at the companys request. At first more successful abroad, Radiohead achieved definitive UK and worldwide fame with its third album OK Computer (1997) and remained at the top of the tree while evolving towards the Grammy-winning In Rainbows (2007). Studio work on Radioheads ninth album began in May this year. Greenwood, who played the viola and started composing before he learned guitar, was always a creative musician with wide contemporary interests. Early on, he formed an affinity with a range of 20th-century classical composers including Penderecki, Ligeti, Dutilleux and Messiaen. Falling under the spell of the latters Turangalla-Symphonie he relished the writing for ondes martenot, an instrument that he learnt to play. Other influences include Miles Davis, dub reggae and Krautrock. These interests have gone into Radioheads music, as well as his flair on several instruments in addition to guitar and his ability to score for strings.

Lucy Nicholson/Stringer/Getty Images

childhood car journeys, when the family had had enough of the available tapes, I used to listen to the engine noise, and found that if I concentrated hard enough I could hear the music from the cassettes still playing somewhere in the background.

J O N NY GREEN W O O DHe began to return to individual composing and released his first solo album, Bodysong, in 2003 it was the soundtrack for a documentary film by Simon Pummell. For his first published concert piece, Smear, commissioned by the FuseLeeds festival for the London Sinfonietta (2004), he used two ondes martenot with strings. It caught the imagination of those within the BBC, and the following year he began a three-year appointment as Composer-in-Association with the BBC Concert Orchestra. In 2005 he was featured composer at the Southbanks Ether festival, which premiered Piano for Children with the Sinfonietta and John Constable. Popcorn Superhet Receiver, for the BBC CO, was his next piece, winning a 2006 British Composer Award and a PRS Foundation commission which is still in progress. A further film score, for the Oscar-winning There Will Be Blood, followed when its director Paul Thomas Anderson was impressed by Bodysong. The score itself was ineligible for an Academy Award as it included pre-existing music, from Smear and Popcorn Superhet Receiver, but it received a Grammy nomination.

Programme note Robert Maycock



IG O R STRAVINSKY (18821971)

Apollo ballet in two scenes (19278)Birth of Apollo Apollos Variation Pas daction Calliopes Variation Polyhymnias Variation Terpsichores Variation Apollos Variation Pas de deux Coda ApotheosisComposed in 1927 and completed in January 1928, Apollo was the first ballet Stravinsky wrote for a company other than Diaghilevs (to the latters intense annoyance). It was also the first work Stravinsky ever wrote to a commission from the USA. The invitation came from the Library of Congress, and specified a pantomime for three or four dancers and small orchestra on a subject of the composers own choice, to which Stravinsky responded with what amounts to the first of his abstract (or plotless) ballets, and his first ever work for string orchestra. When he started composing the music, in July 1927, Stravinsky seems to have envisaged parts for harp and piano as well, and he already knew the subject-matter, if not the details of the scenario which, indeed, seem never to have assumed great importance for him, if we are to believe his remark in a Paris interview of 1935 to the effect that Apollo contains no argument and that this is the key to the mystery of Terpsichore. Those who commission works of art usually have some mental picture o