Reverb Festival Redefines Classics

By  | February 27, 2012 | Filed under: Music

For the NEW YORK TIMES: Ninety-piece orchestras, solo artists, conductors, choirs and D.J.’s will gather in London starting on Friday to perform a host of new works that aim to set new parameters for what orchestral music can or should be.

Reverb 2012 will host a series of contemporary classical performances from Friday through March 4 at Roundhouse (Chalk Farm Road; NW1 8EH; 44-844-482-8008; Chalk Farm tube stop), a performing arts center in London originally used as a steam engine repair shed.

According to Gabriel Prokofiev, a composer and D.J. performing at the festival, “Classical music’s kind of gotten stuck in this very old-fashioned format that doesn’t really fit into most young people’s lives.”

The 90-piece Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, conducted by Sir Mark Elder, will perform its rendition of Berlioz’s “Romeo and Juliet” on opening night, and the Roundhouse Music Collective will perform live sets that combine alternative classical, jazz and electronica.

On Saturday, the Aurora Orchestra and its conductor Nicholas Collon will present “Love Song for the City,” incorporating elements from Strauss’s “Metamorphosen,” and a new chamber arrangement of Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story.”

The singer-songwriter Imogen Heap on Sunday will perform her a cappella soundtrack for the 1928 French Surrealist silent film “The Seashell and the Clergyman,” accompanied by the Holst Singers, a British choir.

And on March 3, the London Contemporary Orchestra will perform Xenakis’s “Metastasis” and Stockhausen’s “Studie I,” set alongside “Doghouse” by Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead, a 20-minute portion of Mr. Greenwood’s score to the 2010 film “Norwegian Wood.” The evening will also feature the European premiere of Prokofiev’s “Concerto for Bass Drum and Orchestra,” with the soloist Joby Burgess. Richard Lannoy and Prokofiev will perform D.J. sets, and soloists from the LCO and Roundhouse Music Collective will also perform.

The festival closes March 4 with choirs incorporating folk, world, beat-boxing and classical into their performances. The event culminates in a mass performance of Orlando Gough’s “Making Music Overture.”

“If people start talking in the back, no one’s going to turn around and go ‘shhhh,’ or anything. We’re not going to have any of that,” the D.J. Richard Lannoy said about the event.

Photo by Samantha West. Courtesy of the Roundhouse

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