A Whole Lotta Love

From his operas like Einstein on the Beach and Appomattox to his film scores for Koyaanisqatsi and Notes on a Scandal, composer Philip Glass is known for spinning minimal musical notes and rhythms into maximal structures. Written between 1971 and 1974, his chamber music masterpiece, Music in Twelve Parts, is nothing short of epic. An extended cycle of music involving keyboards, woodwinds, a vocalist, and an onstage audio engineer — and normally requiring three live concerts to perform in its entirety — the piece tests the limits of the ensemble players’ physical and psychological endurance (not to mention the audience’s ability to sit still for multiple hours). Today, the nine-member Philip Glass Ensemble, featuring the composer on keyboards, performs the entire work in one marathon sitting (box meals are available for $14 during the half-time break). In this era, the sheer length of the era-defining four-hour work makes experiencing it seem more like a religious ritual than a concert. Back in the early 1970s, though, listeners had a more forgiving relationship with time. As Glass fondly recalls: "It was easy to find people to listen to this music every Thursday night, because nobody had anything else to do anyway.”
Mon., Feb. 16, 5 p.m., 2009

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