Philip Glass Ensemble
About this Artist
Established by composer Philip Glass, the PHILIP GLASS ENSEMBLE held its first performance in May 1969 at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. Embraced first by the visual art community working in SoHo in the early 1970s, early concerts by the Philip Glass Ensemble were considered visual as well as musical events and were often performed in art galleries, artist lofts, and museum spaces rather than traditional performing art centers.
Since that time, the members of the PGE are recognized as the premiere performers of Philip Glass’ compositions and continue to be an inspiration for new work. Over the past 30 years, the group has performed on four continents in some of the world’s most prestigious music festivals and concert venues. They have been featured in Philip Glass’ opera Einstein on the Beach as well as the music theater projects Hydrogen Jukebox; 1000 Airplanes on the Roof; The Photographer; La Belle et la Bête; and Monsters of Grace.
The Philip Glass Ensemble recently toured internationally with Philip on Film, a festival of film scores by Philip Glass and performed in concert with screenings of the original films Koyaanisqatsi, Powaqqatsi, La Belle et la Bête, Dracula, and Shorts. On June 4, 2004 in Athens, Greece, Glass premiered Orion, a work for ensemble and world musicians commissioned by the Cultural Olympiad 2001-2004. Following its world premiere in Athens, Orion was performed at the Forest Theater in Thessaloniki, Greece; the Ravenna Festival in Ravenna, Italy; the Les Nuits De Fourviere in Lyon, France; and the Barbican Centre in London, England.
PHILIP GLASS (composer, keyboards), born in Baltimore, Maryland, is a graduate of the University of Chicago and the Juilliard School. In the early 1960s, Glass spent two years of intensive study in Paris with Nadia Boulanger and, while there, earned money by transcribing Ravi Shankar’s Indian music into Western notation. Upon his return to New York, he applied these Eastern techniques to his own music. By 1974, Glass had a number of significant and innovative projects, creating a large collection of new music for his performing group, the Philip Glass Ensemble, and for the Mabou Mines Theater Company, which he co-founded. This period culminated in Music in Twelve Parts, followed by the landmark opera, Einstein on the Beach, created with Robert Wilson in 1976.
Since Einstein, Glass has expanded his repertoire to include music for opera, dance, theater, chamber ensemble, orchestra, and film. His score for Martin Scorsese’s Kundun received an Academy Award nomination, and his score for Peter Weir’s The Truman Show won him a Golden Globe. His film score for Stephen Daldry’s The Hours received Golden Globe, Grammy, and Academy Award nominations, along with winning a BAFTA in Film Music from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. The critically acclaimed films The Illusionist and Notes on a Scandal were released in 2006, with Notes earning Glass an Oscar nomination for best original score.
In 2004 Glass premiered the new work Orion, a collaboration between Glass and six other international artists opening in Athens as part of the cultural celebration of the 2004 Olympics in Greece, and his Piano Concerto No. 2 (After Lewis and Clark) with the Omaha Symphony Orchestra. Glass’ latest symphonies, Symphony No. 7 and Symphony No. 8, premiered in 2005 with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, and Bruckner Orchester Linz at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, respectively. 2005 also saw the premiere of Waiting for the Barbarians, an opera based on the book by J. M. Coetzee. Glass’ orchestral tribute to Indian spiritual leader Sri Ramakrishna, The Passion of Ramakrishna, premiered in 2006 at the Orange County Performing Arts Center.
Glass maintained a dense creative schedule throughout 2007 and 2008, unveiling several highly anticipated works, including a music theater piece, Book of Longing, based on Leonard Cohen’s book of poetry, and an opera about the end of the Civil War titled Appomattox, which premiered at the San Francisco Opera. The English National Opera, in conjunction with the Metropolitan Opera, remounted Glass’ Satyagraha, which appeared in New York in April 2008. Recent film projects include a score to Woody Allen’s film, Cassandra’s Dream.
Glass’ next opera, based on the life and work of Johannes Kepler and commissioned by Linz 2009, Cultural Capital of Europe, and Landestheater Linz, will premiere in September 2009 in Linz, Austria.
MICHAEL RIESMAN (conductor, keyboards) is a composer, conductor, keyboardist, and record producer, and is the Music Director of the Philip Glass Ensemble. He has conducted many recordings of works by Glass, including Einstein on the Beach, Glassworks, The Photographer, Songs From Liquid Days, Dance Pieces, Music in 12 Parts, and Passages, and almost every Glass film soundtrack including Koyaanisqatsi, Mishima, Powaqqatsi, The Thin Blue Line, Anima Mundi, A Brief History of Time, Candyman, Kundun, The Truman Show, Naqoyqatsi, The Fog of War, Secret Window, Taking Lives, Undertow, Roving Mars, and The Illusionist. He was the pianist for the Academy Award-nominated soundtrack for The Hours, and has also recorded a solo piano arrangement of that score. He has received two Grammy nominations as conductor, for The Photographer and for Kundun. He has conducted and performed on albums by Paul Simon (Hearts and Bones), Scott Johnson (Patty Hearst), Mike Oldfield (Platinum), Ray Manzarek (Carmina Burana), David Bowie (BlackTie/White Noise), and Gavin Bryars (Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet). Riesman released an album, Formal Abandon, on the Rizzoli label, which originated from a commission by choreographer Lucinda Childs. His film scores include Enormous Changes at the Last Minute, Pleasantville (1976), and Christian Blackwood’s Signed: Lino Brocka. Riesman studied at Mannes College of Music and Harvard University, where he received a Ph.D., and has taught at Harvard and SUNY-Purchase. He has been Composer in Residence at the Marlboro Music Festival and at the Tanglewood Festival, where he conducted performances of his own works.
Vocalist/composer LISA BIELAWA (keyboards, voice) has appeared in performances of her own works in Japan, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Italy, and Russia, at the Bang On A Can and Lincoln Center Festivals, and on the Seattle Symphony Made in America series. She is composer-in-residence with Boston Modern Orchestra Project, which is performing and recording her orchestral works over three years. Recent premieres include The Lay of the Love and Death for violinist Colin Jacobsen and baritone Jesse Blumberg at Lincoln Center in March 2006, Hurry for soprano and chamber ensemble, commissioned by Carnegie Hall in 2004, and The Right Weather for piano and orchestra, which was written to celebrate the opening of the new Zankel Hall in New York. A member of the Philip Glass Ensemble since 1992, she has also sung major roles in operas by Anthony Braxton and Michael Gordon. Lisa is also one of the Founders and Artistic Director of the MATA Festival, which commissions and premieres work by young composers from all over the world.
DAVID CROWELL (soprano, alto, and tenor saxophone) graduated from the Eastman School of Music in 2003 with a Bachelor of Music in jazz saxophone performance. He has studied with Walt Weiskopf, Ralph Alessi, Peter Epstein, Ray Ricker, and Andrew Sterman. He has also studied composition with Juilliard professor Jonathan Dawe. In 2007 David was selected for a resident fellowship in composition at the Bang on a Can Summer Institute, allowing him to work closely with Julia Wolfe, Michael Gordon, and David Lang. His residency was supported by an ASCAP grant for American composers. David’s work has been performed most recently at the Gallerie Icosahedron: VIM Tribeca Concert Series, and at MASS MoCA. Recent performance highlights include Terry Riley’s In C with Composers Collaborative, praised by The New York Times as “a raw and ebullient performance.” At the 2007 Bang on a Can Marathon, David joined Mark Stewart to perform with his highly unique Orchestra of Original Instruments.
DAN DRYDEN (live sound mix) has been a member of the Philip Glass Ensemble since 1983. He has mixed performances of PGE concerts, The Photographer, Einstein on the Beach (1984, 1993), Koyaanisqatsi (Live), Powaqqatsi (Live), La Belle et la Bête, Les Enfants Terribles, and Hydrogen Jukebox. He has also worked with Lloyd Cole, Laurie Anderson, Ravi Shankar, the Raybeats, and others. In the studio, he has recorded The Photographer, Satyagraha, and Mishima as well as the works of other artists. Dan has been the driving force in the preservation of the visionary environment The Healing Machines created from 1954-1986 by the late artist/inventor Emery Blagdon in Nebraska.
STEPHEN ERB (onstage audio engineer) spans, and often combines, the worlds of music and theater. His work with the Philip Glass Ensemble includes the productions La Belle et la Bête, Monsters of Grace, Koyaanisqatsi, Powaqqatsi, Naqoyqatsi, Orion, and the Einstein on the Beach concert at Carnegie Hall. He has acted as audio engineer for the Philip Glass/Leonard Cohen piece Book of Longing and the Bang on a Can/Ridge Theatre’s The Carbon Copy Building. In the theater world he is credited with Broadway productions such as Annie Get Your Gun, The Goodbye Girl, and Jane Eyre. Off-Broadway includes Marvin’s Room and Sight Unseen. Theatrical tours include Hello Dolly (with Carol Channing), Les Misérables, proof, and most recently Doubt (with Cherry Jones). He spent six years as Sound Master at the La Jolla Playhouse working on such productions as the Ray Davies/Des McAnuff musical 80 Days, Peter Sellers’ Ajax, and the Nat and Cannonball Adderley musical Shout Up A Morning. Stephen is honored to continue to collaborate with the other members of The Philip Glass Ensemble.
JON GIBSON (flute, soprano saxophone) is a composer, multi-wind instrumentalist, and visual artist who has taken part in numerous landmark musical events over the past three-and-a-half decades. He has performed in the early works of Steve Reich, Terry Riley, LaMonte Young, and Philip Glass. He continues to perform with Glass in various configurations, including the Philip Glass Ensemble, music from The Screens with Foday Musa Suso, and in solo/duet concerts featuring the music of both Glass and Gibson. Gibson has performed and collaborated with a host of other musicians, choreographers, and artists, including Merce Cunningham, Lucinda Childs, Thomas Buckner, Molissa Fenley, Harold Budd, Nancy Topf, David Behrman, Frederick Rzewski, Peter Zummo, Petr Kotik, Julius Eastman, Arthur Russell, and Moacir Santos. Recently, an evening of Gibson’s music was performed at New York’s the Stone by the Ne(x)tworks Ensemble. Other recent activities include an ongoing collaboration with the Nina Winthrop & Dancers Dance Co., composing the music for numerous dances over a period of ten years. Gibson also composed an opera about the inventor Nikola Tesla entitled Violet Fire in collaboration with the librettist Miriam Seidel. In 2006, productions of Violet Fire, under the direction of Terry O’Reilly, were presented at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival and the National Theater Opera House in Belgrade, Serbia. Gibson’s music can be heard on the Tzadik, Orange Mountain Music, New Tone, Point Music, Lovely Music, EarRational Records, and Einstein Records labels. He can also be heard as a performer on recordings by many of his contemporaries. His visual work, which is often related to aspects of his music, manifests itself in various media, including drawings, videos, books, and prints. It has been exhibited internationally in solo and group shows, most recently at the “Written on the Wind: The Flag Project” exhibit at the Rubin Museum of Art and the “Graphic Notation in Contemporary Music” exhibit at the Kitchen, both in New York City. Gibson is a graduate of San Francisco State University, where he studied composition with Wayne Peterson and Henry Onderdonk and jazz improvisation with John Handy III. Further information can be accessed at the websites artabounds.com and jongibson.net.
Pianist, percussionist, and composer MICK ROSSI (keyboards) is known for his work in the NY Downtown scene and has been described as “one of the most courageous and gifted charismatic musicians in New York and beyond” (All About Jazz Italy). His new solo recordings include They Have A Word For Everything (Knitting Factory), Nosferatu (Dreambox), Inside The Sphere (Cadence), New Math (ToneScience), the up-coming Songs From The Broken Land (OmniTone), and his ninth recording One Block From Planet Earth (OmniTone), which Down Beat gives “Four Stars” and All About Jazz describes as “life relishing, [and] unpretentiously profound.” A member of the Philip Glass Ensemble as both pianist and percussionist, he has performed and recorded with Alex Acuña, Steven Bernstein, Kelly Clarkson, Dave Douglas, Mark Dresser, Kermit Driscoll, Billy Drewes, Peter Erskine, Eric Friedlander, Vinny Golia, Eddie Gomez, Hall and Oates, Gerry Hemingway, Carla Kihlstedt, Andy Laster, The Mahavishnu Project, Randy Newman, Carly Simon, Johnnie Valentino, and Wadada Leo Smith, among others. Performances include the Knitting Factory, Fringe, and Montreux jazz festivals, WNYC’s New Sounds, NPR’s All Things Considered, John Zorn’s The Stone, Metropolitan Opera, Brooklyn Philharmonic, MATA, American Ballet Theater, Jay Leno, and David Letterman. Recent films include The Vagina Monologues (HBO) and Standing In The Shadows Of Motown (Artisan).
Saxophonist, flutist, and composer ANDREW STERMAN (flute, piccolo, bass clarinet), whom The New York Times praised for “beautiful and sensitive playing,” first appeared as a jazz saxophonist in the bands of Buddy Rich, Louis Bellson, Gil Evans, Toshiko Akiyoshi, and many others. Always a fan of great jazz singers, while very young he played with many of the all-time masters, including Sarah Vaughan, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Joe Williams, Mel Tormé, and Aretha Franklin. Audiences have heard him with jazz masters including Freddie Hubbard, Dizzy Gillespie, Fred Hersch, Rashied Ali, Wallace Roney, Roland Hanna, and Ron Carter. Equally committed to contemporary classical music, Sterman has been soloist with MATA, ISCM, Bang on a Can, Avian Orchestra, and the Eos Orchestra. Sterman has been a member of the Philip Glass Ensemble since 1992, and is featured on the CD, Philip Glass: Saxophone. Sterman’s CD entitled Blue Canvas With Spiral received international praise: “A beautiful jazz CD, powerfully played and containing that certain spark seldom heard....” (Musicworks, Canada); “a sound as pure as moonlight” (Australian Age). Sterman’s newest CD, The Path To Peace: Music Inspired by the Inner Journey of Mahatma Gandhi, composed as a dance/video/music collaboration with choreographer Sridhar Shanmugam, has just been released on the Orange Mountain Music label. The Path To Peace has already been gathering strong praise from a wide audience: “Only Gandhi could evoke music as beautiful and spiritually moving as this. Listening to Andrew Sterman’s The Path To Peace is for me a deep meditation on personal and political peacefulness” (Lawrence Fuchs, Professor Emeritus, Brandeis University, former speechwriter for JFK), and “A wonderful and inspiring album” (Philip Glass). Visit andrewsterman.com and thepathtopeace.net.
GODFREY REGGIO (film director, Koyaanisqatsi, Powaqqatsi, Naqoyqatsi) is an inventor of a film style that creates poetic images of extraordinary emotional impact for audiences worldwide. Reggio is prominent in the film world for his Qatsi trilogy, essays of visual images and sound that chronicle the destructive impact of the modern world on the environment. Born in New Orleans in 1940 and raised in Louisiana, Reggio spent 14 years in a Roman Catholic religious order of men (the Christian Brothers) — living in community, dedicated to prayer, study, and teaching. Based in New Mexico during the ’60s, Reggio taught grade school, secondary school, and college. In 1963, he co-founded Young Citizens for Action, a community organization project that aided juvenile street gangs. Following this, Reggio co-founded La Clinica de la Gente, a facility that provided medical care to 12,000 community members in Santa Fe, and La Gente, a community organizing project in Northern New Mexico’s barrios. In 1972, he co-founded the Institute for Regional Education in Santa Fe, a non-profit foundation focused on media development, the arts, community organization, and research. In 1974 and 1975, with funding from the American Civil Liberties Union, Reggio co-organized a multi-media public interest campaign on the invasion of privacy and the use of technology to control behavior.
Koyaanisqatsi, Reggio’s debut as a film director and producer, is the first film of the Qatsi trilogy. The title is a Hopi Indian word meaning “life out of balance.” Created between 1975 and 1982, the film is an apocalyptic vision of the collision of two different worlds – urban life and technology versus the environment.
Powaqqatsi, Reggio’s second film, conveys a humanist philosophy about the earth, the encroachment of technology on nature and ancient cultures, and the splendor that disappears as a result. The film focuses on the modern way of life and the concept of the Global Village, entwining the distinctive textures of ancient and Third World cultures. Powaqqatsi was co-written, co-produced, and directed by Reggio and composed by Philip Glass between 1985 and 1987.
In 1991 Reggio directed Anima Mundi, a film commissioned by Bulgari, the Italian jewelry company, for the World Wide Fund for Nature, which used the film for its Biological Diversity Program. Accompanied by the music of Philip Glass, the 28-minute Anima Mundi is a montage of intimate images of over 70 animal species that celebrates the magnificence and variety of the world’s fauna. In 1993, Reggio was invited to develop a new school of exploration and production in the arts, technology, and mass media being founded by the Benetton company. Called Fabrica – Future, Presente, it opened in May 1995, in Treviso, Italy, just outside Venice. While serving as the initial director of the school through 1995, Reggio co-authored the seven-minute film Evidence, which provides another point of view to observe the subtle but profound effects of modern living on children.
In recent years, Godfrey Reggio wrote, co-produced, and directed Naqoyqatsi, the final film of the Qatsi trilogy, and is a frequent lecturer on philosophy, technology, and film. He resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico. For additional information please visit qatsi.org.
Since its inception, in 1973, the INSTITUTE FOR REGIONAL EDUCATION (IRE) has been dedicated to promoting and providing information and resources to the general public. Beginning with a major public-interest advertising campaign in 1974 (in conjunction with the American Civil Liberties Foundation), a primary focus of the IRE has been public media and outreach, including everything from community-based video, to public art and sculpture displays, to the creation and production of the feature films Koyaanisqatsi (1982), Powaqqatsi (1988), and Naqoyqatsi (2002), as well as the short film Anima Mundi (1991), made for the Worldwide Fund for Nature as part of its Biological Diversity campaign. Another emphasis has been research, and research training for non-profit and community-based groups, as well as for investigative and other journalists. A further focus includes the providing of technical assistance and support through organizational, administrative, and fund-raising expertise to nonprofit organizations together with serving as advisors to foundations and other donors on issues, potential grantees, and managing philanthropic funds.
Founded in 1998 by Linda Brumbach, POMEGRANATE ARTS (touring producer) is an independent production company dedicated to the development of international contemporary performing arts projects. Since its inception, Pomegranate Arts has conceived, produced, or represented projects by Philip Glass, Laurie Anderson, London’s Improbable, Sankai Juku, Dan Zanes, and Goran Bregovic. Special projects include Dracula: The Music And Film with Philip Glass and the Kronos Quartet; the music theater work Shockheaded Peter; Brazilian vocalist Virginia Rodrigues; Drama Desk Award winning Charlie Victor Romeo; Healing The Divide, A Concert for Peace and Reconciliation, presented by Philip Glass and Richard Gere; and Hal Willner’s Came So Far For Beauty, An Evening Of Leonard Cohen Songs. Recent projects include the first North American tour of Goran Bregovic and the remounting of Lucinda Childs’ 1979 classic DANCE.