Philip Glass's Music Finally Makes Debut in His Birthplace, Baltimore

Classic Arts News   Philip Glass's Music Finally Makes Debut in His Birthplace, Baltimore
Baltimore native Philip Glass, celebrating his 70th birthday this year, may be one of the most frequently performed living composers, but his hometown orchestra has never played any of his works.

Until tonight, that is, when Marin Alsop, the incoming music director of the Baltimore Symphony, leads the orchestra in the LIFE project, a multimedia piece accompanied by photographs from National Geographic photographer Frans Lanting. The concert also includes Glass's Concerto for Saxophone Quartet, featuring by the Capitol Quartet.

The Baltimore Sun quotes Miryam Yardumian, who was for many years the orchestra's artistic administrator and is now director of artists and special projects, as saying that Glass's name "was brought up a number of times. We were definitely aware of his Baltimore ties. But other things just seemed to get higher up on the totem pole. I don't remember anyone being against doing his music."

Jeremy Rothman, BSO vice president of artistic administration, added, "There were not a lot of conductors who were familiar with his work and championed it."

The Greater Baltimore Youth Orchestra, on the other hand, has recently tackled some of Glass's works, according to the Sun, including the Violin Concerto. The paper points out that Baltimore is not the only orchestra late to the Glass bandwagon. The National Symphony in Washington, D.C., for example, didn't perform Glass until 2005 — when the orchestra premiered the Symphony No. 7 for chorus and orchestra, which it commissioned.

Glass told the paper, "If Marin doesn't bring me to Baltimore, no one will. She has certainly taken an interest in what I've done."

Alsop has extensive experience conducting and performing Glass's music and has recorded a number of his works with other orchestras, including the Bournemouth Symphony in England, of which she is chief conductor. She commissioned LIFE for the Cabrillo Music Festival in California, which she directs and where she gave the premiere last summer. And before ever becoming a conductor, she played violin in the Philip Glass Ensemble.

The Sun quotes Alsop as saying, "It's a relatively easy sell. [Glass] has such a broad appeal. He has a cult following, especially now that he's been active for so long, and with the recent popularity of his film scores."

The concert will be repeated tomorrow and Sunday (February 25) at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in downtown Baltimore.

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