Thursday 23 February 2017

LCO x Spitfire Audio

We pride ourselves on continually testing what sounds can be created through acoustic means, partnering with some amazing collaborators in that process. We’ve been lucky to work over the last two years with our friends Spitfire Audio to develop a sample library of strings capturing many of these unique sounds. The library is available at a discounted price until March 9th. More info »

Wednesday 14 December 2016

‘There Will Be Blood: Live’ UK Tour

There Will Be Blood: Live

“Sparse and at times just plain peculiar – but in a brilliantly original way. It’s magnificent.” ★★★★★ The Independent

In January 2017, the LCO will embark on a UK tour of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Oscar-winning film There Will Be Blood accompanied by a live orchestral performance of Jonny Greenwood’s score.

Monday 30 January 2017*
Royal Festival Hall, London
Tickets >>

Sunday 5 February 2017^
Symphony Hall, Birmingham
Tickets >>

Monday 6 February 2017^
Brighton Dome
Tickets >>

Tuesday 7 February 2017^
Colston Hall, Bristol
Tickets >>

*Jonny Greenwood (ondes Martenot)
^Cynthia Millar (ondes Martenot)
Galya Bisengalieva (violin)
Oliver Coates (cello)
Hugh Brunt (conductor)

Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2007 epic historical drama is regarded as one of the greatest films of the 2000s. It was voted at no. 1 in Total Film’s top ten films of the decade, no. 3 in the BBC’s 100 greatest films of the 21st Century, won 2 Oscars (nominated for 8), and won the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival that year.

“…the effect was superb… a singular audio-visual journey into a heart of darkness.” ★★★★ The Times

Meanwhile Greenwood’s score is considered a masterwork of dramatic tension. While writing the script, Anderson heard Greenwood’s orchestral piece Popcorn Superhet Receiver and the alien experimental dissonance of the music set the unsettling tone for the film, based on the Upton Sinclair’s novel Oil!. It was Greenwood’s first of many soundtracks for feature film. It has passages extrapolated from Arvo Pärt Fratres and Brahms’ Violin Concerto (both major works in the classical cannon in their own right). Greenwood’s soundtrack was a frontrunner Best Original Score at the Oscars but was ruled out for featuring previously composed material.

LCO 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. They have a unique working relationship with Greenwood, also providing orchestral support on multiple tracks on Radiohead’s album A Moon Shaped Pool. The show features over 50 orchestral musicians and uses the ondes Martenot, a rare early electronic instrument that resembles a cross between an organ and a theremin, which Greenwood has also used on various Radiohead tracks.

Following the Southbank show on Monday 30 January 2017, the orchestra plays Birmingham’s Symphony Hall on Sunday 5 February, Brighton on Monday 6 February and Bristol’s Colston Hall on Tuesday 7 February.

For press enquiries:

Seb Burford – Director, WFS Comms

By arrangement with Miramax, Park Circus Films and Faber Music. Original production commissioned by the Roundhouse.

Monday 12 September 2016

Robert Ames and Hugh Brunt to share Principal Conductor post

London Contemporary Orchestra takes to the stage in front of a star-studded audience to launch The Cadbury Dairy Milk Sound of Flavourites album, the first ever music album designed by the brand to enhance the taste experience of the nine flavours in the Cadbury Dairy Milk range

Today the LCO announces that co-Artistic Directors Robert Ames and Hugh Brunt are to take up the role of co-Principal Conductor, effective immediately

Robert and Hugh established the LCO in 2008 and have since collaborated with artists as diverse as Actress, Radiohead, Vivienne Westwood and Terry Riley; recorded soundtracks to BAFTA-winning and Academy Award-nominated films; and performed at leading venues and festivals nationally and internationally. In 2015 the LCO won the Ensemble category at the Royal Philharmonic Society Music Awards, and Robert and Hugh together received the h.Club 100 Music Award, recognising the UK’s most influential creatives.

So far this year Robert has conducted the LCO in the world premiere of Daphne Oram’s Still Point at the Southbank Centre’s DEEP∞MINIMALISM Festival, Radio 3’s first Open Ear live broadcast from St John at Hackney, and Jonny Greenwood’s string arrangements on Frank Ocean’s new releases Endless and Blonde. Away from the LCO Robert regularly appears with the Symphony Orchestra of India, State Orchestra of Kazakhstan and keeps a busy schedule performing chamber and solo music as a violist.

Hugh’s recent work for LCO includes Ron Arad’s Curtain Call at the Roundhouse; BBC Radio 3’s ‘New Year New Music’ live broadcast from St John at Hackney; and conducting Jonny Greenwood’s string and choir arrangements on Radiohead’s new album A Moon Shaped Pool. Away from LCO Hugh appears regularly with the City of London Sinfonia, and Orchestra of Opera North, Britten Sinfonia, Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Royal Northern Sinfonia.

Tuesday 14 June 2016

In Conversation: James Bulley on Daphne Oram’s ‘Still Point’


In 1948, whilst working as a radio programme engineer at the BBC Daphne Oram began work on a new and highly innovative symphonic piece entitled ‘Still Point’. Completed in April 1950, it was submitted to the BBC for the Prix Italia only to be turned down on the basis that the adjudicators wouldn’t understand the “acoustic variants and prerecording techniques” utilised.

Here we talk to artist and composer James Bulley about the complexities of reconstructing ‘Still Point’ from fragments of original score, and the how he’s preserved the integrity of Oram’s work whilst bringing it to a contemporary audience.

You’ve been extensively researching at Goldsmith’s Daphne Oram Archive for the last year in order to realise this world premiere of ‘Still Point’ on Friday June 24. What drew you to Oram’s work initially?

The sheer inventiveness of her compositional technique, the way there wasn’t any medium or experiment she wouldn’t try in order to further her practice. Her archive was really what drew me in to start with… it is incredibly consummate, almost as if she knew that in future decades people would be poring over her notes, research, draft compositions and correspondence for an insight into the ways she was thinking at different times in her life.

How did the collaboration with Shiva come about; who first suggested bringing this piece to life?

Collaborating with Shiva has been wonderfully natural. She came to visit me one day at the archive to have a look around. I showed her Still Point, and the work I’d been doing to begin piecing together the hundreds of pages of draft manuscript (and explained how hard it would be to realise it!) Shiva immediately decided that the work had to be performed; a few weeks later she called and said the piece had been commissioned and from that point to now we have been working together constantly on it.

The final copy of the score to ‘Still Point’ has been lost since Oram’s death, and you’ve been working from the detailed pencil draft pages remaining in her archive. What responsibility do you feel towards Oram and the legacy of her work when rebuilding this incomplete score piece by piece?

A huge responsibility – Oram was a wonderful composer, full of inventiveness and ingenuity, and for a variety of reasons this has only recently begun to be recognised. Still Point was one of her earliest works, and it is astounding, especially given her age and situation at the time. It is vital to us that we maintain the integrity of the work and that in all aspects we are as accurate to her intention as possible. It is important however to recognise that all performances of works are interpretations on one level or another. This is why we consider the piece a ‘realisation’ of Oram’s work. ‘Still Point’ was never performed at the time, and there are aspects of the concept that Oram may well have had to change if she had gone through the process of performing it. We have aimed to ensure that Oram’s influence dominates constantly, but where we have felt it necessary, our input has come to the fore.

Oram’s use of live electronics, turntable manipulation and sampling a live orchestra was radical. How is it that she was creating music in the 1950’s that was so far ahead of her time?

Oram was incredibly strong willed – often making things happen that her peers would have given up on. Throughout her life she took inspiration from an original copy of Francis Bacon’s 1627 utopian novel ‘New Atlantis’, and its musings on a futuristic sound world. She had an incredible imagination, fired by a passion for futuristic thinking and the breaking down of boundaries.

If you could describe the process of rebuilding this work over the last year in 4 words, what would those words be?

Joyous, Collaborative, Meticulous and Painstaking,

James Bulley spoke to Amy Dodero

Still Point by Daphne Oram, realised by James Bulley and Shiva Feshareki, with the LCO, receives its world premiere on Friday 24 June at St John’s Smith Square, as part of the Southbank Centre’s DEEP∞MINIMALISM festival.

Tickets and more info >>

Photograph courtesy of the Goldsmith’s Oram archive. Credit: Fred Wood / Oram Trust

Friday 3 June 2016

In conversation: Shiva Feshareki on Daphne Oram’s ‘Still Point’

Shiva DJ 3 smaller

‘Still Point’, a world premiere of Daphne Oram’s 1950 score, realised by yourself and James Bulley, opens the Southbank Centre’s DEEP∞MINIMALISM festival on June 24 at St John’s Smith Square. This unique and as yet unperformed work is thought to be one of the first examples of an orchestral composition for recorded sound and live electronics. It seems like a project destined for you…?

Yes, it really felt destined, like a calling really, considering my specialist skills are in orchestral composition and analogue electronics/turntabling. I went to visit James in the Goldsmiths Oram Archive a few years ago as I was getting to know the work of Oram at the time. James takes care of the archive and has done so for 5 years. Still Point was in the archive in a box full of loose sheets of manuscript. James showed me the box and suggested this could be the first work ever written for live electronics but still unperformed. When I realised this was a piece for turntables and orchestra I felt quite overwhelmed. I will never forget that moment. I promised James I would find this piece its world premiere, and the next day on NTS radio I promised him again live on air. I was working with Oliver Coates at the time and I talked in passing to him a few weeks later about how I wanted to persuade an orchestra to perform ‘Still Point’ and he programmed it immediately for this festival! I could see the impact the piece and its story had on him; I knew the Oram spell had been cast!

You have composed the turntable part of the piece based on your own intuition and understanding of Oram’s musical aesthetic; what responsibility do you feel towards Oram and the legacy of her work when re-interpreting ‘Still Point’ for a modern day audience?  

I feel a massive responsibility. Remember that the turntable writing is derived completely from the live orchestral score so I haven’t introduced any new material as a composer, rather I manipulate the material that is already there. I have purposefully worked in a way where you can’t decipher where my work starts and Oram’s work ends. This remains a piece by Daphne Oram completely, not a re-working.

When I was constructing the orchestral material I was thinking constantly about what Oram would do in 1949, but when I’m working on the turntable part I’m thinking “what would Oram do if she was working in collaboration with me as a performer/turntablist in both the present day and in 1949?” Like a double story.

Both the story of Still Point’s realisation as well as the essence of the piece itself is about parallels and doubles: double orchestra; 1949 vs 2016; the live orchestra vs the recorded orchestra within the turntable manipulation etc etc. The piece is all about parallel worlds that move and evolve. I am starting to feel that to complete the concept of the work, Oram somehow had it planned for a world premiere so long in the future! The piece was beyond groundbreaking for 1949; it was futuristic. It really has been a mind-bending experience.

The world premiere performance is being recorded and broadcast live by NTS radio – how have you prepared technically for the broadcast?

James, the LCO and I have chosen a highly specialist team of recording engineers to bring this piece to life in collaboration with NTS, both for the live audience as well as online. I came across ‘Still Point’ when researching my NTS show on Daphne Oram, so it is great that the piece has come a full circle.

The record cutting process is the part I am most excited about, as we will be cutting dubplates in rehearsal directly as the orchestra plays, using a 1950s lathe run by sonic-scientist Aleksander Kolkowski). It will be a rare experience.

‘Still Point’ predates the work of an entire generation of composers and artists in its radical use of live electronics including turntable manipulation and sampling with live orchestra. How is it that Daphne Oram was creating music in the 1950’s that was so far ahead of her time?

Daphne Oram trained as a classical composer in her teenage years and then declined any further formal university education in composition – which was rare for that era. Instead, at the age of 17 she went on to work as a mix engineer for the BBC. Her environment was different and unique to other composers; she was a music-balancer for the BBC Proms during WW2, shadowing the live orchestra with recorded vinyls of the orchestral symphonies that were being performed. If there were air-raids and the orchestra had to stop playing during a live broadcast Oram would seemlessly mix in the vinyls, which was like a highly specialist form of engineering and DJ-ing. That, mixed with her composer’s mind meant she could come up with such a revolutionary work.

If you could describe your work on ‘Still Point’ in 4 words, what would those words be?

Experiencing untold history unfold.

Shiva Feshareki spoke to Amy Dodero

Still Point by Daphne Oram, realised by James Bulley and Shiva Feshareki, with the LCO, receives its world premiere on Friday 24 June at St John’s Smith Square, as part of the Southbank Centre’s DEEP∞MINIMALISM festival.

Tickets and more info >>