Philip Glass is in town… and a trip down memory lane with Christopher Fox

with3It’s not every day you get a chance to see/hear Philip Glass performing Philip Glass, but he is on something of a UK tour (well, Manchester and Basingstoke in November) performing with the Philip Glass Ensemble Retrospective. This is billed as “a kind of partial ‘Greatest Hits’ that revisits some of Philip Glass’ most important and popular works. They include the Cologne Section from CIVIL warS (1984), created for an unrealised Robert Wilson project for the Los Angeles Olympic Games; excerpts from the seminal Music In 12 Parts, which resonate alongside key works from the 1980s including the last act of his chamber opera The Photographer, and music written for Godfrey Reggio’s cult film Koyaanisqatsi. Music in Similar Motion, dizzying and determined, takes the story back to 1969.”

Christopher Fox, writing in the 7th November 2013 issue of The Guardian, described his personal experience in attending a performance of this very ensemble presenting the, now classic, Music in Twelve Parts (1971-74) on another November night, though in Liverpool… in 1975. A notable (and eminently quotable) recollection can be found in the middle of the article: “It was the aural equivalent of standing at the top of a giant waterfall, mesmerised by the illusion that such a rushing body of water could also appear so stable, so even. At a time when most new music was neither even nor fast-flowing, it was important to be reminded of how powerful and effective these qualities could be.” There are many good things to be read in the article here ->  Glass’s Music in 12 Parts – but the audience was just as small.

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