Last Friday night I attended the world premiere of James Newton Howard’s concerto for violin and orchestra, performed by Pacific Symphony in Costa Mesa. I was excited to hear Howard’s writing removed from the constraints of film and inside a traditional concert form. His violin music for films like The Village and Defiance (the two scores that specifically prompted Pacific Symphony’s music director Carl St. Clair to commission the concerto) are gorgeous demonstrations of Howard’s imagination for the instrument, so there was ample reason for excitement at the thought of a whole concerto.
I giddily attended the final concert of Kraftwerk’s week-long residency at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, which kicked off the Minimalist Jukebox (a giant celebration/exploration of minimalism hosted by the LA Phil). Classical KUSC posted my review on their blog.
I’ve recently developed a rather insatiable thirst for both orchestral minimalism (à la Philip Glass) and European synthpop, and Kraftwerk is at the hip heart of the twain. It all started, basically, when I interviewed Hans Zimmer about Man of Steel last summer, where he mentioned how much his music (his “rock and roll” scores) is influenced by the likes of Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, et al. Since I really like Zimmer in general, his comment sent me on a quest to discover the music of his influencers, and I’ve come across a few bands and albums that—with their retro ’80s synth effects and very of-their-era style—at an earlier point in my life I would have absolutely abhorred, and in the light of current day seem like they should be caveated as silly, guilty pleasures. But for some reason I am really tuned to the frequency of the signature sounds and beats of the decade of my birth (maybe that is the reason), and I’m gobbling up music by Giorgio Moroder, Alphaville, The Buggles, Pet Shop Boys, Vangelis, and of course Kraftwerk. (TRANS…EUROPE…EXPRESS.)