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Glass Promises to Sparkle in ‘Evening of Chamber Music’

Renowned composer-pianist returns to UCSB for concert with Sutter and Rossi.


Philip Glass, one of the greatest living composers of contemporary America — and a performer of note — has made regular visits to the South Coast in recent years, usually at the behest of UCSB Arts & Lectures.

On Sunday, A&L, in partnership with the Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum, will again bring Glass to UCSB Campbell Hall, this time for "An Evening of Chamber Music." Glass, at the piano, will share the Campbell stage with cellist Wendy Sutter and percussionist Mick Rossi.

The concert begins at 7 p.m., with a program that includes "Tissues," for cello and percussion, from the film Naqoyqatsi; Metamorphosis, II, III, and IV for solo piano; Etudes, II and X for solo piano; "Songs and Poems" for Solo Cello; "The Orchard," for cello, piano and percussion; and "Closing," from Glassworks, for cello, piano and percussion.

It is typical of Glass’ rare combination of modesty and confidence that his concert will begin before he comes on stage.

Glass is a major presence in the contemporary art world. In addition to his operas, symphonies, chamber music for an unimaginably diverse variety of ensembles, and compositions for solo piano, he has written the scores of more than 80 films — features, documentaries and shorts — including No Reservations, Woody Allen’s Cassandra’s Dream, Notes on a Scandal, The Illusionist, Secret Window, The Hours, The Secret Agent, Godfrey Reggio’s Koyaanisqatsi and Powaqqatsi, Errol Morris’ The Thin Blue Line and The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara, and, of course, Candyman. He has collaborated with artists in virtually every field, artists of the level of Twyla Tharp and Woody Allen, Allen Ginsberg and David Bowie, Paul Simon, Linda Ronstadt, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and Nobel Laureate Doris Lessing.

Born and raised in Baltimore, Glass began his studies at the University of Chicago, then moved on to the Juilliard School, and to Aspen where he was a pupil of Darius Milhaud. After he moved to Europe, he put himself under the tutelage of the legendary Nadia Boulanger. He also collaborated closely with the composer and master of the sitar, Ravi Shankar.

Some writers have credited him with founding "minimalism" as a school of composition, but he dismisses that with a gentle laugh.

"My music is what it is," he told this writer on one occasion. "I am not responsible for what someone else wants to call it."

Although he is the very opposite of a flamboyant performer, Glass is mesmerizing in concert. He has the gift for being low-key and serious without being boring.

Tickets to "An Evening of Chamber Music" are $35 for the general public, $19 for UCSB students. For tickets and other information, contact the Arts & Lectures box office at 805.893.3535 or order online by clicking here.

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