‘Like… Beethoven coming to Winnipeg’

Departing maestro raises Glass to toast renowned composer headlining New Music Festival in WSO's 70th year

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Philip Glass, considered one of the most influential classical music composers of the 20th and 21st centuries, will be the headline performer and focus of the 2018 Winnipeg New Music Festival in January.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/06/2017 (1878 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Philip Glass, considered one of the most influential classical music composers of the 20th and 21st centuries, will be the headline performer and focus of the 2018 Winnipeg New Music Festival in January.

“It’s a little bit like having Beethoven coming to Winnipeg,” said Alexander Mickelthwate, the artistic director of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, the festival’s host, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary during the upcoming 2017-18 season.

“It’ a really huge coup for this to happen in my last year (with the orchestra),” said Mickelthwate, who is leaving the symphony at the end of the season to take on a similar position with the Oklahoma Philharmonic.

Fernando Aceves photo Philip Glass, the most famous and among the most-performed of living composers, turned 80 in January.

Mickelthwate says the WSO has spent about two years lobbying Glass and his management team. That included selling them on Winnipeg, the orchestra and the festival. He said the WSO enlisted the assistance of one of its patrons, Michael Nesbitt, chairman and president of Winnipeg’s Montrose Mortgage Corp., in setting up Glass’s appearance.

“Perhaps no other living music composer so accurately reflects the history and the future of our new music festival,” Nesbitt says in a WSO release. “The opportunity to bring Philip Glass to the 2018 event was compelling.”

Glass is known for for being on the forefront of modern musical minimalism. Among his works is the the 1975 co-written five-hour opera Einstein on the Beach. He also uses the minimalistic style in the soundtracks to movies, including the score for The Truman Show, nominated for a Golden Globe Award in 1998. He also has received three Academy Awards nominations for scoring Kundun (1997), The Hours (2002) and Notes on a Scandal (2006).

Two highlights of his festival appearance will be a performance of the Complete Piano Etudes with four other pianists on Jan. 28 and the world première of his String Quartet No. 8 on Feb. 1 by the New York-based JACK Quartet, which has been co-commissioned with Carnegie Hall.

The WSO will kick off the 2018 Winnipeg New Music Festival on Jan. 27 with a performance of Glass’s Symphony No. 11 at the Centennial Concert Hall. On Jan. 29 at Westminster United Church, the WSO will team up with two Winnipeg choirs — the Polycoro Chamber Choir and Camerata Nova — to perform Glass’s 1975 piece Knee Play 3 and The Window of Appearances from his 1983 work Akhnaten.

Glass’s festival appearance adds to an already star-studded 70th anniversary season for the WSO that includes performances by violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman (Sept. 16), pianist Natasha Paremski (Oct. 27-28) and the Tenors (Dec. 8-9).

alan.small@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @AlanDSmall

Alan Small

Alan Small
Reporter

Alan Small has been a journalist at the Free Press for more than 22 years in a variety of roles, the latest being a reporter in the Arts and Life section.

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