Philip Glass: The Études
with performances by Philip Glass, Timo Andres and Maki Namekawa
Monday, March 2, 2015
Davies Symphony Hall
Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts
PHILIP GLASS: The Études
About This Performance
Like other great pianist-composers throughout history, Philip Glass originally conceived of his 20 études for solo piano as works that would both expand his technique as a composer and performer and test and broaden the limits of the instrument. The études have taken him 20 years to complete and stand as an intensely intimate personal statement by a composer who has changed the course of music in our time. Glass will be joined by Maki Namekawa, a leading interpreter of his music, and Timo Andres, a star composer-pianist among a new generation of American mavericks.
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, including the beginning of his collaborative relationship with artist Robert Wilson. 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.
Timo Andres (b. 1985, Palo Alto, CA) is a composer and pianist who grew up in rural Connecticut and now lives in Brooklyn, NY. His début album, Shy and Mighty, which features ten interrelated pieces for two pianos performed by himself and pianist David Kaplan, was released by Nonesuch Records in May 2010 to immediate critical acclaim. Of the disc, Alex Ross wrote in The New Yorker that Shy and Mighty “achieves an unhurried grandeur that has rarely been felt in American music since John Adams came on the scene…more mighty than shy, [Andres] sounds like himself.”
Timo’s new works include a piano quintet for Jonathan Biss and the Elias String Quartet, commissioned and presented by Wigmore Hall, Carnegie Hall, the Concertgebouw Amsterdam and San Francisco Performances; a solo piano work for Kirill Gerstein, commissioned by the Gilmore Foundation; a new string quartet for the Library of Congress, premiered by the Attacca Quartet; and a new piece for yMusic. Upcoming commissions include a major work for Third Coast Percussion and an ensemble song cycle to be premiered by himself, Gabriel Kahane, Becca Stevens, Ted Hearne and Nathan Koci at the Ecstatic Music Festival, and presented by the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra’s Liquid Music series.
Recent highlights include solo recitals at Lincoln Center, Wigmore Hall, (le) Poisson Rouge, and San Francisco Performances; a weekend of performances in Los Angeles, featuring a new work for the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and a performance of his re-composition of the Mozart “Coronation” Concerto; and performances of Crashing Through Fences by eighth blackbird. Collaborative projects of the past season include a duo program with Gabriel Kahane at the Library of Congress, and a world premiere performance of selected Philip Glass Études, alongside the composer, as part of Nico Muhly’s “A Scream and An Outrage” festival at the Barbican.
Timo earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Yale and in addition to music, he has worked occasionally as a professional graphic and web designer. He is one sixth of the Sleeping Giant composers’ collective, and performs regularly with ACME. He has received awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, BMI, and ASCAP, as well as grants from New Music USA and the Copland Fund.
A new album of his orchestral works, Home Stretch, was released by Nonesuch Records in July 2013.
An avid cyclist, Timo can often be sighted commuting astride his 1983 Mercian.
Maki Namekawa is a leading figure among today’s young artists, bringing to audiences’ attention new music by leading international composers. As a soloist and a chamber musician equally at home in classical and contemporary repertoire, Maki Namekawa performs regularly at international venues such as Suntory Hall in Tokyo, the Ruhr Piano Festival, the Musik-Biennale Berlin, the Festival Eclat in Stuttgart, Ars Electronica Linz, at the ZKM Karlsruhe and the Rheingau Music Festival. She performs and records frequently for the major German radio networks in München, Stuttgart, Karlsruhe, Köln, Saarbrücken, and Frankfurt, and has appeared in concerts for Dutch Radio, Swiss Radio and Radio France.
Recent engagements include the Concertgebouw Orkest Amsterdam, the Münchner Philharmoniker, the Munich Chamber Orchestra with the piano concert of György Ligeti, the Dresdener Philharmonie, the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra and the Bruckner Orchester Linz. With the Seattle Symphony Orchestra conducted by Dennis Russell Davies she performed Alan Hovhaness’s Lousadzak in Seattle’s Benaroya Hall. In 2012, she played Arvo Pärt’s Lamentate at Carnegie Hall New York and Igor Strawinskys concert for piano and wind instruments with the Bamberger Symphoniker. In February 2013 Maki Namekawa was invited to the International Arts Festival in Perth. Under the participation of Philip Glass she played some of his solo etudes, partially as a world premiere. In 2014 she performed Glass’ piano etudes in Island, Sweden and the USA. Soon she will be guest in the Cadogan Hall London with Pärt’s Lamentate.
Since 2005, Maki Namekawa and Dennis Russell Davies have been performing together as a piano duo in Europe and the US. With duo partner Dennis Russell Davies she performed at Lincoln Center Festival in New York (US première of Philip Glass’s Four Movements for Two Pianos), at Benaroya Hall in Seattle, at “Musik im Riesen” festival held at Swarovski Crystal Worlds in Wattens and at Klavierfestival Ruhr. In October 2012 she played the world premiere of Stoker by Philip Glass at the New York Morgan Library. In June 2013 the duo performed Philip Glass’ Two Movements for Four Pianos with Katia und Marielle Labèque in Düsseldorf (World Premiere).
Maki Namekawa studied piano at the Kunitachi Conservatory in Tokyo with Mikio Ikezawa and Henriette Puig-Roget from the Conservatoire de Paris. Later she continued her studies at Cologne Musikhochschule with Pierre Laurent Aimard and at Karlsruhe Musikhochschule.