Percussion Department Premiere Concert celebrates composer Philip Glass

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Academy Award-winning composer Philip GlassORANGEBURG – SC State’s percussion department will present a concert that commemorates the 70th birthday of Philip Glass, arguably the most famous, living American classical composer.


The ground-breaking concert will present ten works – seven of which are world premieres for percussion – by Philip Glass, an Academy Award-nominated film and concert composer. The concert celebrates the composer’s 70th birthday and his contributions to the performing arts and motion picture industry in Hollywood and New York City and theatre.


The Philip Glass 70th Birthday Celebration at SC State will be held on Tuesday, May 1, at 7 p.m. in the Barbara A. Vaughan Recital Hall in the Fine Arts Center. The event is free and the community is invited to attend. For additional information, contact James Orlick at (803) 536-7124.


The event is a collaborative effort between SC State’s percussion department, vocal department, theatre department and visual arts department.


The program includes:

  • “Serra Pelada” and the world premiere of “Sao Paulo” from the motion picture, Powaqqatsi;
    1+1 music for amplified table top;
  • “Escape,” “The Poet Acts,” “Choosing Life” and the world premiere of “The Hours” title cue from the motion, The Hours;
  • the South Carolina premiere of “Prelude to the Endgame,” written by Samuel Beckett and featuring a physical theatre performance by Eddie Morris;
  • “Philip Glass Buys a Loaf of Bread,” written by David Ives and featuring live actors and actresses; and
  • the world premiere of “Etude No. 2 for Mallet Ensemble” with a live art installation by Professor Steven Crall.


James Orlick, director or percussion studies at SC State, is the motion picture orchestrator, artistic director and conductor for the concert at SC State. He also worked for many years in New York City orchestrating Glass’ motion picture films.


Orlick recently made the push to make SC State the location for the “first Philip Glass percussion concert in the world,” and for the University to become one of the few to host Glass’ 70th Birthday Celebration.


“This is a seminal concert in the history of the SC State Percussion Department, and I am thrilled that the exceptional talent of the percussion students will be at the forefront,” said Orlick. “The youthful energy to initiate the nationwide celebration of a brilliant mind in music,” he continued.


“The sheer talent in the percussion department is second to none,” Orlick added. “There is a lot of creativity in the percussion department and to host such a large-scale concert is just a demonstration of the brilliance and dedication within the percussion studio.”


About Philip Glass

Through his operas, his symphonies, his compositions for his own ensemble and his wide-ranging collaborations with artists ranging from Twyla Tharp to Allen Ginsberg, Woody Allen to David Bowie, Philip Glass has had an extraordinary and unprecedented impact upon the musical and intellectual life of his times.


The operas – “Einstein on the Beach,” “Satyagraha,” “Akhnaten,” and “The Voyage,” among many others – play throughout the world’s leading houses, and rarely to an empty seat. Glass has written music for experimental theater and for Academy Award-winning motion pictures such as “The Hours” and Martin Scorsese’s “Kundun,” while “Koyaanisqatsi,” his initial filmic landscape with Godfrey Reggio and the Philip Glass Ensemble, may be the most radical and influential mating of sound and vision since “Fantasia.” His associations, personal and professional, with leading rock, pop and world music artists date back to the 1960s. Indeed, Glass is the first composer to win a wide, multi-generational audience in the opera house, the concert hall, the dance world, in film and in popular music -- simultaneously.


He was born in 1937 and grew up in Baltimore. He studied at the University of Chicago, the Juilliard School and in Aspen with Darius Milhaud. Finding himself dissatisfied with much of what then passed for modern music, he moved to Europe, where he studied with the legendary pedagogue Nadia Boulanger (who also taught Aaron Copland, Virgil Thomson and Quincy Jones) and worked closely with the sitar virtuoso and composer Ravi Shankar. He returned to New York in 1967 and formed the Philip Glass Ensemble – seven musicians playing keyboards and a variety of woodwinds, amplified and fed through a mixer.


The new musical style that Glass was evolving was eventually dubbed “minimalism.” Glass himself never liked the term and preferred to speak of himself as a composer of “music with repetitive structures.” Much of his early work was based on the extended reiteration of brief, elegant melodic fragments that wove in and out of an aural tapestry. Or, to put it another way, it immersed a listener in a sort of sonic weather that twists, turns, surrounds, develops.


There has been nothing “minimalist” about his output. In the past 25 years, Glass has composed more than twenty operas, large and small; eight symphonies (with others already on the way); two piano concertos and concertos for violin, piano, timpani, and saxophone quartet and orchestra; soundtracks to films ranging from new scores for the stylized classics of Jean Cocteau to Errol Morris’s documentary about former defense secretary Robert McNamara; string quartets; a growing body of work for solo piano and organ. He has collaborated with Paul Simon, Linda Ronstadt, Yo-Yo Ma, and Doris Lessing, among many others. He presents lectures, workshops, and solo keyboard performances around the world, and continues to appear regularly with the Philip Glass Ensemble.


For additional information on Glass and his works, visit