I haven't been on this job long enough to know what it's like: season after season, recording and remarking on Philip Glass' schedule and the performance of his work throughout the world. 2008 was a very special year. Coming off the premiere of APPOMATTOX and the premiere of BOOK OF LONGING, 2008 was a very quiet compositional year for Philip Glass.
In all, three smaller scale pieces were written in 2008: FOUR MOVEMENTS FOR TWO PIANOS, LOS PAISAJES DEL RIO (for the Philip Glass Ensemble), and DUO NO.1 FOR VIOLIN AND PIANO (for Maria Bachmann & Jon Klibanoff). The first two will be released on Orange Mountain Music in 2009, the latter will be premiered in early 2009 and recorded to be released on another label.
Philip Glass also embarks on the composition of an opera based on KEPLER for the Landestheater Linz to be premiered in September 2009. Other productions in 2008 of Glass operas included LA BELLE ET LA BETE in Munich and the Czech Republic; IN THE PENAL COLONY in Tokyo; THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER in Denmark; and a concert performance of the composer's masterpiece WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS in London. This was all in addition to the Class A treatment of SATYAGRAHA which was done at the Metropolitain Opera in April/May. These performances were a personal highlight in all my Glass experiences of the years.
Philip Glass himself wins the award for the 40th year running for the most performances of his own music. Following the Do-It-Yourself formula which has been the same for the likes of Beethoven and Berlioz, Glass performed throughout the world in 2008 from New Zealand and Australia to South America. Other remarkable performances included a performance of the Glass VIOLIN CONCERTO with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Bowl, LOW SYMPHONY in Germany, and performances by Carolyn Kuan of the LIFE piece, including a performance in the presence of international dignitaries at the inauguration of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva.
For the first time in many years there were no films scores by Philip Glass in 2008. Although the composer's name was attached to two high profile projects, the composer did not write any music before it was announced that he was leaving the pictures. Otherwise, 2008 saw the wide released of the Scott hicks documentary about Philip Glass called GLASS: A PORTRAIT OF PHILIP IN TWELVE PARTS. The film is an extremely personal glimpse into the life of Philip Glass in his "Great Year" of 2005. It has been short-listed for Best Documentary at the Oscars and its soundtrack will be released on Orange Mountain Music in January 2009.
IN THE UPPER ROOM was revived by the Boston Ballet and other companies. The Boston troop also took the piece on tour to Korea. GLASS PIECES also made a re-appearance at the NYC Ballet as a repertory piece. A new ballet was done at the Houston Ballet set to the composer's EIGHTH SYMPHONY.
Considering the worldwide financial crisis we should all be happy for what we continue (at least for the moment) to have. 2008 was again a wonderful tsunami of Philip Glass records. Orange Mountain Music put out ten new releases most notably SONGS & POEMS FOR SOLO CELLO and WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS. Other labels released THE COMPLETE GLASS STRING QUARTETS by the Smith Quartet on Signum, and PORTRAIT by Angele Dubeau and La Pieta. Other notables include the third volume of the CONCERTO PROJECT, the new boxed set of MUSIC IN 12 PARTS, and of course the 10-Disc Nonesuch Retrospective GLASS BOX which is a decent snapshot of the composer's mature career.
THE BAD NEWS:
There was a lot of noise made about the new Director of the NYC Opera coming in and revitalizing the company in competition with the Met Opera's exciting initiatives during the tenure of Peter Gelb who brought Satyagraha to the Met stage. However, the end result of the departure of that director, Gerard Mortier, was that his plans for a revival of the Wilson/Glass opera EINSTEIN ON THE BEACH have been canceled for 2009. The NYC Opera is struggling for its existence in the wake of his "leaving before he started," and to make matters worse his announced plans included a new Glass opera based on a novel about Walt Disney called THE PERFECT AMERICAN. The last word on this is that it has been cast into limbo.
Other bad news was that long-time Philip Glass Ensemble Music Director MICHAEL RIESMAN broke his leg while on tour with BOOK OF LONGING in Italy. The happy ending to this is that Riesman is on the mend and will be performing DRACULA with Philip Glass and the KRONOS QUARTET in January. I'm also happy to report he was in top form at the recent recording sessions of LOS PAISAJES DEL RIO.
The new year looks bright for Philip Glass and his fans. The composer starts the year in residence at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. New Year's day is celebrated in Linz Austria with a performance of the composer's neglected Seventh Symphony "TOLTEC" followed shortly by the country premiere of Glass TIMPANI CONCERTO.
FRANCE is the place to be, as there are no less than three Glass operas being performed there in January and February including LES ENFANTS TERRIBLES (Paris); IN THE PENAL COLONY (Lyon); and HYDROGEN JUKEBOX (Angers, Nantes). Atlanta Opera gets in the mix with a mini-Glass festival including performances of AKHNATEN;
SYMPHONY NO.6 "PLUTONIAN ODE" gets its Dutch premiere in March, THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER bows in Germany; and of course Philip Glass and musicians will tour the world with BOOK OF LONGING, SONGS & POEMS with Wendy Sutter, and SOLO PIANO concerts by the composer. The highlight of the year may be a performance of KOYAANISQATSI at the Hollywood Bowl with the Philip Glass Ensemble AND the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Thanks every one of you for coming to Glass Notes and supporting this great music.