Film classic reproduced on stage

In some ways, conductor/artistic director Hugh Brunt hopes you might actually forget the orchestra is there.

Hugh Brunt (credit Trent McMinn)
Hugh Brunt (credit Trent McMinn)

What he hopes is that instead you will simply feel the heightened tension of it all when the London Contemporary Orchestra bring their live orchestral performance of the award-winning film There Will Be Blood to Brighton Dome on Monday, February 6 at 7.30pm.

The music was written by Radiohead guitarist/keyboardist Jonny Greenwood, and the show features more than 50 orchestral players, with instruments including the Ondes martenot, a rare early electronic instrument described as a cross between an organ and a Theremin, which Greenwood has also used on various Radiohead tracks.

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“The show happened because we were working with Jonny, and I first saw the film in 2008. It’s an incredible film in terms of the screenplay, the performances and the cinematography. But I was really struck by the music. It has a really strong visceral impact. It is very fresh and earthy and very raw and also has some beautiful fragile moments. Robert, the co-director, and I thought it would be a film that could work along these lines, screening the film with 52 players performing live. It has become quite a standardised technology for stripping the soundtrack out of a film and leaving the dialogue and the sound effects, and then just playing the music live. It is then all mixed by a team of sound engineers. We play live everything that is written for the picture. There are a few moments in a church where they are singing hymns, and we don’t do that bit. But we do everything else.”

It’s a throwback to the days of the cinema organist in some ways: “The audience I hope at times will almost forget that the orchestra is there. That would be a good sign that the audio is balanced nicely and that it all fits together. You just hope that they are left with the heightened tension of the fact that the music is coming from 52 players.”

Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2007 epic historical drama is regarded as one of the greatest films of the 2000s. It won two Oscars (nominated for eight) and won the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival that year.

The score was Greenwood’s first of many soundtracks for feature film. It has passages taken from Arvo Pärt’s Fratres and Brahms’ violin concert, both major works in the classical cannon in their own right.

The London Contemporary Orchestra put together the live theatrical presentation of the film for the world premiere in 2014 for two sold-out performances at the 2,500-capacity Roundhouse in London, and now they are taking it out on tour.

“I am a co-founder of the orchestra. The co-director and I started it in 2008. The idea was to think about examining contemporary orchestral music in a slightly-different way and also to examine how we wanted to put on concerts, the style and the presentation and the venues where we performed. We take on board what we call site-responsive work where we move out of the concert hall and explore off-site places. We enjoy being led by the character of the places. We have played in the disused Aldwych underground station; we have performed on top of Primrose Hill; and we have performed in a hydraulic power station. I think everywhere is playable. You have just got to work the music for that space.”

Tickets on 01273 709709 or

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