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CPO cellist Danny Poceta on merging tradition and innovation with Brahms V. Radiohead

If you’re a regular subscriber of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra’s (CPO) Discovery Series, then chances are you’re going to be surprised by the program for the upcoming concert on March 9th — Brahms V. Radiohead. Conducted and arranged by Steve Hackman, this concert incorporates elements of Brahms’ Symphony No. 1 in C minor with the rock band Radiohead’s 1997 album OK Computer.  

“It’s an eye-catching title: Brahms V. Radiohead. You see it and you think, ‘What could that possibly be?’ ” says Danny Poceta, a member of the CPO’s cello section. “And I love Brahms, like most people, and Radiohead was a favorite band of mine in high school and still is.”

Unsurprisingly, this particular concert deviates from the usual symphonic structure.

“You’ll hear some Brahms and then it’ll go back to an orchestral arrangement, a very recognizable Radiohead thing,” Poceta explains. “It becomes pretty integrated in parts, and there are several minutes where I think you only hear Brahms or you only hear Radiohead, but even when you hear the Radiohead songs, Steve Hackman definitely sneaks in other things, and vice versa.”

Poceta speculates that this concert could attract a new audience base for the Orchestra.  

“I wonder sometimes if there’s some kind of element of novelty of seeing an orchestra play music that you like,” says Poceta. “I’m curious to see if people that are Radiohead fans will go, know nothing about classical music, and just think it’s really cool that there’s an orchestra up there — and there’s nothing wrong with that, but, my hope is that there will be people who end up being able to appreciate both genres.”

This seemingly unconventional collaboration between music not only from different genres, but also from different centuries, is less surprising when you consider their fundamental qualities.

“I think Radiohead’s a great band. And I think that as a classical musician — I know a lot of classical musicians who are into Radiohead,” says Poceta. “I think they’re one of the more musically-sophisticated groups in the world. So it makes sense — their music is extremely melodic.  

“Thom Yorke [lead singer of Radiohead] is known for this falsetto voice, just soaring, beautiful, vocal lines over this intricately rhythmic undercurrent, and I think Brahms has a lot of the same qualities — it’s very rhythmic music, but also very expressive and lyrical. So yeah, there are overarching things I can see going well together.”

While this weekend’s concert is less traditional than others presented in the CPO’s Discovery Series, Poceta recognizes the need for the Orchestra to extend its reach with shows like Brahms V. Radiohead.

“I think we need any enthusiasm we can get, basically, and if that’s what it takes, then that’s what it takes.”

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Written by guest contributor Jill Girgulis

Jill Girgulis is a student at the University of Calgary and a regular contributor for thegauntlet.ca as well as buzzfeed.com. When she’s not busy studying for her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree, she can most often be found in one of the first three rows of the Jack Singer Concert Hall.

2019-03-09T13:20:16+00:00

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