A Clockwork Orange and Beyond sees Will Gregory Moog Ensemble and Australian Chamber Orchestra work together

And more catholic in their choice of collaborators, as this month sees Gregory’s Moog Ensemble joining the Australian Chamber Orchestra for a series of concerts focusing on the shared territory of electronic innovation, film scores and the classical repertoire.


Among the pieces on the program will be Carlos’ bold electronic arrangements of Bach and her adventurous scores for Tron and Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, as well as Delia Derbyshire and Ron Grainer’s Doctor Who theme. Other works on the bill pitch back and forward from Carlos, Derbyshire and Grainer, including Olivier Messiaen and Franz Waxman (who scored Sunset Boulevard and Rear Window among many others), Vangelis (from the scores for Blade Runner and Chariots of Fire), Hans Zimmer (Interstellar) and John Williams (Images).

“There are a lot of subterranean fans for this kind of stuff – I’m hoping,” says the ACO’s artistic director Richard Tognetti.

He came up with the idea for the program during lockdown while watching the early Robert Altman film Images, a psychological thriller/horror which blended the work of Japanese avant-garde percussionist Stomu Yamashta and Williams.

Originally conceived as a showcase of lesser-known Williams compositions, the concept shifted from scores that changed film history (“Of course we looked no further than Wendy Carlos”) to a full electronic/orchestra blend (“In the Vangelis Blade Runner, there’s one of the great synth sounds”) when Tognetti was introduced to the Moog Ensemble.

“I found out he was also Mr Goldfrapp, and I thought this is too good an opportunity to pass up. The way Will talks about his instrument, with the imperfections, is just wonderful,” Tognetti says.

The imperfections of the early synthesisers partly inspired Carlos to explore their many possibilities.

“I think that’s what it’s all about: it’s the [Japanese philosophy on acceptance of transience and imperfection] wabi-sabi,” Tognetti says.

He nods to the ondes martenot, the keyboard-operated oscillating waves instrument that Messiaen first used in 1937’s Fete des belles eaux.

“It was the imperfection, what you got in between the notes, that attracted [Messiaen]. The imperfection, these almost deliberate blemishes, within the perfect realm, that’s what Will talks about.”


Gregory himself raves about the “brilliant marrying of force” that is Blade Runner – “these huge, epic long spaces that you could throw a sound into and it blooms and expands and becomes like panoramic 3D things, just one sound”.

He also thrills at the boldness of the score for Tron, which he sees as “Wendy Carlos really enjoying the freedom to be a composer and putting on all these different hats”.

“So you get medievally things, you get quite hyper-arranged, bombastic orchestral things, with synths involved. That feels to me like the wonder that Wendy Carlos was given that job to be a film composer and take on all those resources, and go a bit insane with that actually,” he says.

“With Wendy I think the genius lies in the instrumentation. The pinnacle of Wendy is the Switched-On Bach records – they are just sublime.”

A Clockwork Orange and Beyond is at City Recital Hall, May 12 to 17; Sydney Opera House, May 14; and Wollongong Town Hall, May 18.

Sydney Morning Herald subscribers can enjoy 2-for-1 tickets* to the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales during June 2023. Click here for more details.

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