Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Philip Glass' Music in Twelve Parts: 1-6

An historic musical event took place Monday evening at Davies Symphony Hall, the first West Coast performance of Philip Glass' four-hour-plus minimalist work from 1974, "Music in Twelve Parts."

The 72-year-old composer himself (above right) was playing one of three synthesizers as part of an ensemble that included Michael Riesman and Mick Rossi on keyboards, with David Crowell (above left), Jon Gibson, and Andrew Sternan on various woodwinds and brass instruments.

They were joined by the thoroughly amazing Lisa Bielawa (above) who sang continuously for 10 out of the 12 movements, pacing the entire ensemble. My friend Sid Chen found himself twittering "LISA BIELAWA IS SUPERWOMAN."

The crowd was an odd mix of adventurous old classical music fans like Barbara Sherman above to younger people who looked like their musical tastes would be wildly divergent.

There was some kind of foul-up at the box office where too many people were waiting in line for will-call tickets, so unfortunately the first hour of the concert was a constant stream of patrons walking in late to find their seats. It felt like we were at The Warfield for a Yes concert, and the Right Terrace section behind the stage was a particularly distracting spot with traffic going back and forth like Grand Central Station.

After a brief pause, the second hour of the piece went much more smoothly with just about everyone in their seats. My friend Charlie and I were artistically disgraceful, however, and scooted out of Davies Hall with ten minutes left to go in Part 6 because we wanted to make it to Kebab and Hayes for an hour-long dinner break before the mobs arrived.

"You do know that there are going to be hundreds of people at your door in about ten minutes, don't you?" I asked the sweet Kurdish owner, and he had no idea what was coming his way.

The crowd around us at dinner couldn't have been more charming, and Tricia above had even heard "Music in Twelve Parts" when it premiered back in New York. "I did too," said her companion, "though if I remember correctly I was completely stoned at the time." We were very glad we hadn't pre-ordered the "box dinner" at Davies Hall which according to Patrick Vaz involved a long line, nowhere to eat, and a deeply unsatisfying sandwich.


jolene said...

I'm still having a difficult time wrapping my brain around four hours of anything that I *like* is really difficult. But thanks for the lovely photos and the lovely writeup, as always. I'm going to see Philip Glass tonight for a concert on campus. He's doing a Q&A before hand as well that I hope to make if I can get my experiments finished in time.

Ed said...

Part of the comings-and-goings in the right terrace during the first hour seems to have involved a medical emergency. There were paramedics and a stretcher involved.

But the disorganization at the will-call "line" was inexcusable.

AphotoAday said...

Hey Mike, nice work on that first photo!
I like how you got the whole building in the reflection...

Stanley said...

Very inspirational music. The art transcends. Thanks for sharing.

-Stan, WKMT