Leonard Slatkin will conduct the orchestra in Glass's Symphony No. 7: A Toltec Symphony, featuring the Master Chorale of Washington.
According to Glass, the work, commissioned by the symphony in honor of Slatkin's 60th birthday, was inspired by the Wirrarika sacred trinity, which is reflected in the names of the movements: "The Corn," "The Hiruki (the Sacred Root)," and "The Blue Deer." The Wirrarika are an indigenous Mexican race still practicing the ancient Mesoamerican tradition of maintaining relationships with the world's natural forces.
Glass has cited other unusual sources of inspiration for his works in the past, such as the combination of texts from the Tibetan Book of the Dead, poems by Thomas Merton, and African chants that went into his Symphony No. 5.
The concert, which will be reprised on January 21 and 22, also features baritone Matthias Goerne performing Mahler's song cycle Des Knaben Wunderhorn.