Portland Cello Project to tackle Radiohead’s ‘OK Computer’ at Seattle’s Benaroya Hall

In a way, the artistic destinies of the equally unorthodox “OK Computer” and Portland Cello Project were meant to coincide. They will do so Sunday, Dec. 10, when the PCP appears at Benaroya Hall for what is expected to be a thrilling performance, “Celebrating 20 Years of ‘OK Computer.'”

Radiohead’s 1997 album “OK Computer,” a masterpiece that explored fears of technology-driven human isolation and political angst approaching the 21st century, was largely, and ironically, recorded in an ancient stone staircase, a ballroom and other unlikely corners of an allegedly haunted, 16th century manor house in Somerset, England.

The Portland Cello Project, formed in 2006 from informal gatherings of Portland cellists to jam and drink beers, has brought its classical music instruments and repertoire of 1,000-plus old and contemporary works to a biker bar in Billings, Montana, a woman’s prison in Anchorage, Alaska, and arena concerts starring heavy metal guitarist Buckethead, a favorite of headbanging teen boys.

In a way, the artistic destinies of the equally unorthodox “OK Computer” and Portland Cello Project were meant to coincide. They will do so Sunday, Dec. 10, when the PCP appears at Benaroya Hall for what is expected to be a thrilling performance, “Celebrating 20 Years of ‘OK Computer’.”

CONCERT PREVIEW

Portland Cello Project: Celebrating 20 Years of ‘OK Computer’

7:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10 at Benaroya Hall, 200 University St., Seattle. Tickets start at $35; scattered single tickets may be available by calling or visiting the box office. (206-215-4747 or www.seattlesymphony.org)

I know: just another chamber music ensemble dabbling in rock ‘n’ roll, right? Wrong.

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Here’s some perspective. In 1995, the rapidly evolving, trend-defying Radiohead was in search of new musical direction. Resisting pressure to repeat the same recipe of melody, introspective lyrics and seductive hooks on their guitar-oriented hit album “The Bends,” the group chose to dive into the unknown instead.

Like the late-period Beatles, Radiohead was eagerly searching for new sounds, textures and a vivid, densely-layered sonic world that pushed the boundaries of pop form. That parallels the mission of the PCP, which roams the full, expressive voice of a cello not only on music by Bach, Vivaldi and Fauré, but living luminaries including Jay-Z, Britney…

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