Philip Glass comes to UR's Modlin Center this weekend

Posted by: brad – Jan 31, 2017


This weekend, UR’s Modlin Center will host a man who was a New York City cab driver into his early forties, the co-founder of a moving company, and the former mastermind behind some $25-grossing concerts that “regular newspapers-- The New York Times, for example,” wouldn’t write about due to their proximity to the glorified drug den neighborhoods of 1960s and 70s NYC.

The man in question is also the composer of operas that have premiered at the Met (including one in Sanskrit, which the NYT did write about), symphonies that have opened at Carnegie Hall, scores for films like The Truman Show and The Hours, and music created for live performances by both himself and the likes of Yo-Yo Ma.

This man is Philip Glass, and the upcoming performance of "The Complete Piano Études" is the culmination of more than 20 years of Glass’s musical labor.

This performance of the Études, which Glass began composing in 1991 and debuted in 2014, will feature Glass himself, just days after his 80th birthday and the world debut of his 11th symphony, along with a virtual dream team of elite pianists: Maki Namekawa, Kunitachi Music University graduate and the pupil of Ernst von Siemens Music Prize award winner Pierre-Laurent Aimard; Aaron Diehl, lauded jazz virtuoso and darling of The New York Times; composer Timo Andres, who has been commissioned by Carnegie Hall and whose work is marked by “playful intelligence and individuality”; and Lisa Kaplan, the founding pianist of the four-time Grammy Award-winning sextet Eight Blackbird.

Glass’s work is already known for its minimalistic character, and in the style of formulaic études (a word which comes from the French word for “study”), the 20 individual pieces that make up the performance range in disposition from meditative to obsessive.

For some, there is an idea that music like Glass’s is reserved for the vague elite of grand concert halls, and not for “people like us.” But when taking into account Glass’s own background, as well as the diverse group of pianists who will be joining him in playing the Études, it is helpful to remember that the artistic work, especially music, is often a matter of individual interpretation.

Unlike a foreign language that runs the risk of being misunderstood a symphony is yielding to the imagination.

The work is anyone’s, player or audience, to make their own.

The show starts at 7:30 p.m., with a pre-show discussion with Philip Glass led by Lisa Kaplan at 6:30 p.m. For more information and to buy tickets, head here.

Words by Gabriella Lacombe