Wednesday, July 29, 2015

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Celebrated Composer Philip Glass Coming to U.Va. as Artist-in-Residence

Philip Glass, one of the most prolific and influential composers of the late 20th century, will be the 2014 artist-in-residence at the University of Virginia from March 31 through April 2. The visit is sponsored by U.Va.’s Music Arts Board.

Through his operas, symphonies and compositions for his own ensemble and his collaborations with artists ranging from Twyla Tharp to Allen Ginsberg, Woody Allen to David Bowie, Glass has had an extraordinary and unprecedented impact upon the musical and intellectual life of his times.

“Philip Glass is without a doubt America’s most famous living composer of classical music,” music critic Alex Ross wrote in The New Yorker. “In fact, he may be America’s only famous living composer of classical music.”

All of the events during the residency will take place on the U.Va. Grounds, and – with the exception of the academic classes he will attend – will be free and open to members of the University and Charlottesville communities.

Events surrounding Glass’ visit will kick off before his arrival. Screenings of “Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts,” a 2007 documentary that describes a year in the life of the composer, and “The Truman Show,” the 1998 film starring Jim Carrey and featuring a soundtrack written and performed by Glass, will be held beginning at 5 p.m. on March 30 in the Newcomb Hall Theater.

On March 31 at 7 p.m., the New Music Ensemble, University Singers and Mobile Interactive Computer Ensemble will perform selections of Glass’ work in an “Ode to Glass” concert in Old Cabell Hall. A discussion with Glass on creativity and collaboration will follow.

On April 1, Glass will give a solo piano performance at 8 p.m. in Old Cabell Hall. All tickets have been reserved; those holding reservations may pick up their tickets in advance at the Arts Box Office in the lobby of the Drama Building at 109 Culbreth Rd., on weekdays from noon to 5 p.m.; or at the Old Cabell Hall box office between 7 and 7:45 p.m. on the night of the show. Any unclaimed tickets will be distributed on the Lawn outside of Old Cabell Hall 15 minutes before the show. Glass’ music is often described as minimalist and grouped with the work of other minimalist composers such as Terry Riley and Steve Reich. But Glass describes himself as a “classicist” or as a composer of  “music with repetitive structures.”

Glass’ work surpasses musical genres and has influenced countless musicians. He is the first composer to win a wide, multi-generational audience in the opera house, the concert hall, the dance world, in film and in popular music ­– simultaneously. He has written works for the Philip Glass Ensemble (with which he still performs on keyboards), as well as operas; musical theater works; 10 symphonies; 11 concertos; solo works; chamber music, including string quartets and instrumental sonatas; and film scores.

Three of his film scores have been nominated for Academy Awards: “Kundun” (1997), “The Hours” (2002) and “Notes on a Scandal” (2006).

Glass’ sense of sonic landscape has changed the mode of musical language and discourse in both the popular and classical spheres since his earliest, seminal works such as “Music in Twelve Parts” and “Einstein on the Beach.”

He was born in 1937 in Baltimore. His father, Ben Glass, played an important role in his son’s musical development, introducing him to chamber music. Philip Glass studied classically at the University of Chicago and the Juilliard School before deciding that his concept of modern music didn’t align with the current model.

He continued his studies in Paris under Nadia Boulanger, whose teachings, especially regarding Bach and Mozart, had a lasting impact on him. While in Paris, Glass met and worked with Ravi Shankar, broadening his musical idiom to include Indian themes. This was a pivotal moment for his career, changing the course of his earlier work to a newer, diverse sound that incorporated Eastern music and rhythmic structures.

Glass returned from Paris and formed the Philip Glass Ensemble. During this period, he composed some of his best-known works. Since his popular opera “Einstein on the Beach” (with Robert Wilson), Glass has composed a wide array of pieces and collaborated with many notable artists.

His most recent works include “Cello Concerto No. 2 ‘Naqoyqatsi,’” the chamber opera “In the Penal Colony,” “The Passion Ramakrishna” and “Symphony No. 9.

Old Cabell Hall is located on the south end of U.Va.’s historic Lawn, directly opposite the Rotunda. Parking is available in the Central Grounds Parking Garage, or in the lots off University Avenue at the University CornerHandicapped parking is available in the C1 parking lot or in designated spaces on McCormick Avenue.

For information, call U.Va.’s McIntire Department of Music at 434-924-3052.

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