On a Wednesday night in January, the filled-to-bursting crowd gathered to absorb some challenging orchestral works at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle was split neatly down the middle. Half were suave, elegant folks typically into the “new music” thing; the other half were scruffy, painstakingly casually dressed cool kids not used to sitting down—let alone in pews—at their concerts. Why was the second half there? The program’s star attraction was the U.S. premiere of Popcorn Superhet Receiver, composed by Jonny Greenwood, a/k/a one of the guys in Radiohead. Ah. Thank the Wordless Music Series for this synergy: Since 2006, they’ve been “devoted to the idea that the sound worlds of classical and contemporary instrumental music—in genres such as indie rock and electronica—share more in common than conventional thinking might suggest,” as their mission statement explains. In other words, they pair artists you might know (post-rockers Explosions in the Sky, ambient giants Stars of the Lid, heavenly warblers Grizzly Bear) with classical/experimental upstarts you might not, often in breathtaking cathedrals and concert halls and whatnot. Plus the shows are cheap, to maximize neophyte exposure. Time to go back to church.
More from the Voice‘s Best of NYC 2008 here.