Composer Philip Glass Comes to Oldcastle Theatre

Philip Glass, the iconic American composer, will appear in concert and conversation in a benefit for Oldcastle Theatre Company Saturday March 24th at 7:30 p.m.

    Mr. Glass will play some of his own compositions on piano and will join Maestro Thomas Lawrence Toscano in a wide ranging conversation. The two have are long time friends, having worked together frequently and even a share a birthday.

    “This is,” according to Oldcastle’s Producing Artistic Director, Eric Peterson, “an opportunity to experience Mr. Glass’ musicianship in an intimate setting while also listening in as two extraordinary composers chat.

    Mr. Glass’ career won a world wide following during the 1970s with “Kayaanisqatsi, Einstein on the Beach” and “Satyagraha.” He has collaborated with the poet Allen Ginsburg, composer Robert Wilson, writer Doris Lessing, filmmaker Martin Scorsese, and such varied modern songwriters as Ravi Shankar, David Bowie and Paul Simon. Glass has written more than 25 operas, 20 ballets and many film scores. Growing up in Baltimore, Maryland, Glass listened to unsold stock in his father’s record store. In an interview with “The Guardian” last year Glass said he listened to “everything–what we called ‘hillbilly’ and Buddy Holly and R&B, as well as Beethoven quartets and things that were quite modern then–Shostakovich and Bartok. But as far as records in the shop were concerned, there was always lots of contemporary music—Charles Ives, the great American composer. And the Second Viennese school–Berg, Webern and, to a lesser extent, Schoenberg. I sent off for his book on basic harmony—couldn’t find it in Baltimore bookstores and followed it to the letter. It was very traditional.”

    At 15 Glass began attending the University of Chicago and then to the Juilliard School in New York. Then in Europe he met the major influences he has called “two angles sitting on my shoulder” Ravi Shankar and Nadia Boulanger the “great guru of Paris.”  In 1976 Glass’ “Einstein on the Beach” became a massive hit but he still had to drive a cab and work as a plumber to make ends meet.  Glass had said, “I didn’t mind that (driving a cab).It was interesting work. I didn’t have an agent. I ran all the business side of it and the box office myself. I enjoyed it. I grew up in the music business. I was happy to do it. But it took a lot of time and work. In 1979 when we did our first Carnegie Hall concert we had to pay for it, and sell the tickets! Eventually I formed a publishing company and had people doing it for me.”

    Glass has received a plethora of awards including z Society of Composers and Lyricists Lifetime Achievement Award, three Oscar Nominations, a Golden Globe for Best Film Score, he was Musical America’s Musician of the Year, voted a Member of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France, the Class Brit Award as Composer of the Year and an Honorary Doctorate from the Julliard School and this is a much abbreviated list.

    Glass and Toscano met in 1989 when they were introduced by Brazilian musician Tico Da Costa. Their friendship led to a series of collaborations beginning in 1991 when Toscano co-produced and conducted the first Philip Glass opera ever presented in Latin and South America. Mr. Glass was instrumental in the creation of the Greenwich Village Philharmonic where Mr. Toscano was the president/conductor. They partnered in a project at the Istitito Vicenzo Bellini where Toscano transcription of Glass’ “Company” was arranged for the institution’s prominent Clarinet Ensemble and conducted by Toscano.

    “This benefit springs from the friendship of these two extraordinary musicians,” Peterson said. “Oldcastle has been working with Thomas to build a music program at the theatre. Thomas opera, “Made in America: The Interview” was presented at Oldcastle. Thomas recently founded Bennington Musical Arts and is teaching a Vocal Workshop at the theatre. Our hope is to build a music program that will include concerts and classes on a continuing basis. Thomas is the ideal person to for this venture.”

    Toscano, who hosts a radio program on WBTN, has founded five ensembles over the course of his career. “I’m very aware of the struggle and sacrifice required to create an not-for-profit organization, let alone sustain it for more than 40 years.” Toscano said. “So it is with a sense of respect and enthusiasm that I reached out to Philip Glass to create another historic event,” he continued.

    “Thomas studied with Leonard Bernstein and Carlo Maria Giulini among others,” Peterson noted. “The interview Thomas did with Philip Glass on his radio program was one of the most fascinating hours I’ve ever heard, These two men are not only amazing talents but links to so many of the great musicians of the 20th and 21st centuries, the echo in the theatre when they are there together will be unbelievable.”

    For further information visit the Oldcastle Theatre website, http://www.oldcastletheatre.org or call 802-447-0564.

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