Philip Glass | Mandel Hall, University of Chicago | Classical | Chicago Reader

Philip Glass All Ages Recommended Soundboard Image

When: Fri., Feb. 19, 7:30 p.m. 2016

Few living composers have achieved the fame and ubiquity of Philip Glass, a musician whose brand of churning, hypnotic minimalism has influenced countless others and possesses such a distinctive language that it’s usually instantly recognizable. He’s also one of the few modern composers who continue to perform their own works, a practice that in the mid-90s led him to start writing etudes intended to increase his skill and sharpen his technique. I’ll be honest, I’m not a fan of much of Glass’s work. I once played hooky from high school so I could see the film Koyaanisqatsi, and his score lulled me to sleep, which his music has pretty much done ever since. But the 20 etudes he’s composed are a much different story, even though they share many of his usual motifs—particularly patterns that use the wagon-wheel effect and obsessively repetitive lines that change ever so subtly. But there’s a warmth and crispness to the etudes that makes them feel much more human and beautiful than his canonical work, their technical ambitions tucked neatly within their outgoing musicality. Last year the composer’s label Orange Mountain Music released a recording of the etudes by pianist Maki Namekawa, and it’s an energizing, lyric delight. Tonight’s special concert will feature all 20 works performed by a diverse cast of superb pianists, including Namekawa, Timo Andres, Lisa Kaplan of Eighth Blackbird, jazz artist Aaron Diehl, and the 79-year-old Glass himself.

Peter Margasak

Price: $35, $5 students

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