Live: Philip Glass And Tim Fain Play The Temple Of Dendur

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Philip Glass and Tim Fain Play Chamber Works
The Temple Of Dendur, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Saturday, April 21

Better than: Battling tourists to enjoy what may be the most beautiful room in New York City.

The Sackler Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, containing the more than two-millennium old Temple of Dendur, is by itself one of the most stunning interior spaces in all of New York City, in this writer's humble opinion. On Saturday night, when it became the latest venue for celebrating Philip Glass's 75th birthday as the composer took to a Steinway (joined by the violinist Tim Fain), it also became apparent that it has some of the best acoustics for listening to solo instrumentation.

It's not just that the visual beauty added to experiencing Glass's chamber pieces. Glass's compositions, simultaneously modern and classical, created a nice juxtaposition with the space. Many of Glass's scores have combined a certain modernism with classical subjects (Akhenaten, Kepler, Dracula). The effect is that Glass can simultaneously fuse together a new perspective on an old subject—forcing the listener/viewer to examine the past in a fresh way—while also simultaneously tying various eras together in such a way that the challenges, ideas and struggles their populations once faced feel timeless and connected to the listener now.


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Q&A: Philip Glass On The Meaning Of Love

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Steve Pyke
We've spent the past month publishing our conversations with East Village and Voice neighbor Philip Glass. For our last installment, we pulled a question out of our hat from our days traveling around the country in recording oral history in an Airstream trailer...

I spent a year working for the NPR StoryCorps project, and a question I saw people ask each other a lot at the end of interviews, which I found so fascinating to hear people from different walks of life, was just asking the person: what do you think love is? And I'd love to hear if you had thoughts on that.

Well that's a very interesting idea. That's a very interesting question.

We have very different dimensions of it, but I don't want to throw the question entirely back at you.

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Live: Philip Glass Brings Patti Smith, Allen Ginsberg, The Brooklyn Youth Chorus, And Music In 12 Parts To The Park Avenue Armory

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The Park Avenue Armory on Friday night.
This year's Park Avenue Armory Tune-In Music Festival was dedicated to honoring composer Philip Glass (who, in turn, turned over a large chunk of it to honoring Allen Ginsberg). Sound of the City attended three of the weekend's five offerings, which closed out a month of musical events around the city celebrating Glass and his 75th birthday.

The Poet Speaks: Patti Smith, Philip Glass, Lenny Kaye, Jesse Smith, and the poetry of Allen Ginsberg
Park Avenue Armory
Friday, February 24

Better than: Every Occupy Wall Street musical act.

The Park Avenue Armory is one of the grandest, most amazing performance spaces in New York City, but Friday's performance began simply and intimately. Philip Glass and Patti Smith, two icons of a certain age, walked out onstage with their arms around each others' shoulders, like two old friends. The carpets in front of the stage, where people in the cheapest (and best) seats in the house, worked at recreating the environment, as Glass described to us, of his loft decades ago. Though a recreating, the effect worked.

What did not work—in fact, what would be an unfortunate undercurrent through out the festival—was the sound system. No one could hear poor Smith as she started to address the audience, who seemed surprisingly nervous to begin with and who looked downright spooked as people shouted, "Louder! Louder!! LOUDER!!!" at her.

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Clip Job: Tom Johnson's Original 1972 Voice Review Of Philip Glass's "Music in 12 Parts"

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Throughout this month, in conjunction with our Feb. 1 cover story "Philip Glass, An East Village Voice," Sound of the City will post excepts of interviews with Glass and his collaborators, as well as reviews of several concerts celebrating his 75th birthday.

Today we dial back to longtime Voice music writer Tom Johnson. In our interview with Glass, he credited Johnson (who is also a composer) with being the only music writer covering the scene downtown when he was getting started, as "The New York Times, for example—they had a rule that they didn't review any art events below 14th Street... Believe it or not, that was a policy of the paper!" Glass has even reportedly told others that he believes Johnson coined the term "minimalism."

Before we head off to the Park Avenue Armory to see Philip Glass perform his epic, mammoth five-hour long "Music in 12 Parts" tomorrow night, we thought we'd take a look at Johnson's review of the same piece exactly four decades ago.

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Q&A: Philip Glass On The Economics of Art And Music

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"Make a note!" Glass in an old, rare endorsement for...Cutty Sark?
Every day this month, in conjunction with our Feb. 1 cover story "Philip Glass, An East Village Voice," Sound of the City will post excepts of interviews with Glass and his collaborators, as well as reviews of several concerts celebrating his 75th birthday.

In this segment of our interview, we discuss the intersection of economics, art and music. As we noted in our cover story, Glass started his recording company with a $1,000 loan from the Hebrew Loan Society. The landscape for such sources of capital has changed drastically since Glass first arrived in the city, and the reality of digital downloads (something Glass has largely accepted) has dried up many sources of revenue.

So how else is the artist to get paid for their work—especially in New York City? Glass says this if his music is used commercially:

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Live: Das Racist, Rahzel, Laurie Anderson And Many Others Play Philip Glass's Tibet House Benefit At Carnegie Hall


Philip Glass and Friends Tibet House U.S. Benefit w/Laurie Anderson, Tim Fain, Das Racist, Antony, Lou Reed, Stephin Merritt, and Rahzel
Carnegie Hall
Monday, February 13

Better than: Seeing how most ethnic Tibetans live.

Last night's all-star benefit at Carnegie Hall began with a performance by eight unnamed monks from the Drepung Monestary, who entered the hall in silence. The saffron-robed throat singers (each of whom wore a striking orange headpiece reminiscent of a Roman centurion's) took the stage like religious royalty being received by devoted followers. They used microphones that were hardly necessary; their throaty chants sounded like (and carried as strongly as) didgeridoos throughout the hall. It was a pretty surprising and impressive thing to look around the dress circle in Carnegie Hall and see dozens of people with their eyes closed and their hands folded in silent prayer.


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Q&A: Das Racist's Dapwell On Tibetan Independence And Playing Carnegie Hall

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Every day this month, Sound of the City has been publishing pieces about Philip Glass turning 75 years old, in conjunction with the Voice's cover story on the composer. Naturally, of course, this has led to an interview with Dapwell (Ashok Kondabolu) of Das Racist, who's performing Monday night at the annual Tibet House benefit at Carnegie Hall. Glass has curated the lineup for the past 22 years, ever since he co-founded the non-profit. Also on the bill for Monday: Laurie Anderson, Lou Reed, Rahzel, James Blake, and Dechen Shak-Dagsay.

The questions we asked Dapwell sometimes prompted answers as sparse and spare as Glass's early composition (alas, he had jetlag). Still, we thoroughly enjoyed our chat about Tibetan independence, smoking up in Carnegie Hall, and what he imagines Philip Glass probably thinks of "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell."

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Q&A: Philip Glass On Friendship, The Film Biz And Collaborating With Woody Allen And Martin Scorsese

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Still from Koyaanisqatsi
Every day this month, in conjunction with our Feb. 1 cover story "Philip Glass, An East Village Voice," Sound of the City will post excepts of interviews with Glass and his collaborators, as well as reviews of several concerts celebrating his 75th birthday.

Earlier this week, we published our interview with Koyaanisqatsi director Godfrey Reggio, who dragged Glass kicking and screaming into film scoring. Today, we're publishing Glass's side of the story of their initial meeting, along with his thoughts on working with Errol Morris, Martin Scorsese, Paul Schrader, Woody Allen, Robert Wilson, Allen Ginsburg, Kronos Quartet, and Lucinda Childs. We also asked Glass about the claim that he writes music so that his friends can chill together, and find out why he appreciates when working relationships aren't "just one-night stands."

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Q&A: Philip Glass On Black Music And African-American History


Every day this month, in conjunction with our Feb. 1 cover story "Philip Glass, An East Village Voice," Sound of the City will post excepts of interviews with Glass and his collaborators, as well as reviews of several concerts celebrating his 75th birthday.

Today we're publishing the portion of our interview with Glass where we talk about black music, African American history, and how he views his music interacting with both.


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Q&A: Koyaanisqatsi Director Godfrey Reggio On Dragging Philip Glass Into Film Scoring

Every day this month, in conjunction with our Feb. 1 cover story "Philip Glass, An East Village Voice," Sound of the City will post excepts of interviews with Glass and his collaborators, as well as reviews of several concerts celebrating his 75th birthday.

Today we are publishing the first of several interviews with Godfrey Reggio, the director of Koyaanisqatsi (the entire film is embedded above, courtesy of Hulu) and its sequels Powaqqatsi and Naqoyqatsi. Reggio "bothered the hell out of" Glass to drag him, kicking and screaming, into scoring his first film in the late 1970s (though Glass had previously composed music for a couple of TV projects like Sesame Street). Thirty-five years later, the two are still collaborating together, now on their fourth film the holy see, which is in post-production.

In this installment, we talk to Reggio about how he initially chose Glass as his composer, and how his team started making a film without dialogue, spoken narration, or a traditional screenplay.

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