Lucid Culture


Philip Glass Curates a Deliciously Eclectic Benefit Concert at the Town Hall

Thursday night at the Town Hall featured a global cast of talent assembled by Philip Glass for a benefit concert for the Garrison Institute, a Westchester County nonprofit think tank. As befits an organization housed in a former monastery space, the music had a mystical quality, no surprise considering Glass’ involvement. Early music choir Pomerium opened the evening with a garden of unearthly delights, conductor  Alexander Blachly immediately setting the tone with Gesualdo’s haunting, strikingly ominous O Vox Omnes (whose Biblical lyrics, from the Book of Lamentations, have Jesus asking passersby how their pain might compare with his). From there the ensemble lightened somewhat and went deeper into hypnotically meticulous polyphony from Talls, Desprez and Lassus. This expertly lush, velvet-toned group is at Corpus Christi Church, 529 W 121st St., at 4 PM on Oct 27 if Renaissance choral treasures are your thing.

The most tantalizing piece of the night was a brand-new Glass composition which the composer played as a duet with pipa innovator Wu Man, his murky resonance contrasting with her Chinese lute’s airy, acerbic, ghostly overtones. She also played a suspenseful, slowly rising improvisation on a Chinese folk song as well as Glass’ 2004 chamber work, Orion, teaming with the Scorchio Quartet (violinists Amy Kimball and Rachel Golub, violist Martha Mooke and cellist Leah Coloff) for an eclectic and biting journey through its alternately Indian and Middle Eastern passages. The quartet also joined with pianist Nelson Padgett and baritone Gregory Purnhagen for another New York premiere, Glass’ Songs of Milarepa, whose exquisitely meta-Glass music – nuevo baroque mingled with hauntingly minimalist, Dracula-esque arpeggiation and echoes of a couple of Glass string quartet themes – far surpassed the prosaic translations of doctrinaire Buddhist lyrics written by an eleventh-century Tibetan monk.

Longtime Glass collaborator Foday Musa Suso, the Gambian-born griot, opened the second half of the show solo on kora harp, maintaining a balance between hypnotic and spikily insistent, a one-man orchestra of circular rhythmic riffage and intricate ornamentation. Turkish virtuoso multi-instrumentalist Omar Faruk Tekbilek followed and was arguably the high point of the show, with a slinky, crescendoing, all-too-brief set with his son Murat on frame drum. The father began with a long, enigmatically searching taqsim (improvisation) on flute while hitting the occasional rhythmic chord on baglama lute. Then he picked up the lute and delivered a slowly crescendoing, impassioned, microtonally-charged setting of a rather epic Rumi poem. Austin, Texas-based Riyaaz Qawwali brought the energy level up to redline, ending the night with a joyously undulating, percussive homage to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

October 26, 2013 Posted by | classical music, concert, Live Events, middle eastern music, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews, world music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Philip Glass Hosts a Global Benefit Concert at the Town Hall

This October 24 at 7:30 PM, there’s a phenomenal lineup of global musical talent at the Town Hall. Philip Glass serves as artistic director and will play this concert, in addition to the great Turkish-American composer/performer Omar Faruk Tekbilek, Chinese pipa virtuoso Wu Man, ghazal ensemble Riyaaz Qawwali, early music choral group Pomerium, and Gambian kora player/griot Foday Musa Suso. $35 tickets are still available as of today. The concert, titled In the Spirit (click for artist videos and info), is a benefit for the Hudson Valley-based Garrison Institute, which works in the fields of climate change, education and trauma .

The concert will include:

* Songs of Milarepa, a work by Philip Glass set to the poems of Milarepa (1052-1135), one of Tibet’s most famous saints and poets. This NYC premiere will be performed by baritone Gregory Purnhagen and pianist Nelson Padgett, members of the Philip Glass Ensemble.

* The Pomerium vocal ensemble, under the director of founder/conductor Alexander Blachly, performs early Christian music. Noted for its luminous sound, the ensemble has been described as the “most venerable of New York’s early music vocal ensembles (Wall Street Journal),  “the standard by which early music vocal groups are measured” (New York Times), and “a driving force for performances of Renaissance polyphony” (Washington Post).

* Riyaaz Qawwali performs the ecstatic improvisational Sufi vocal tradition made famous in the West by the late Pakistani singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. This multi-sectarian group is composed of Muslims and Hindus who perform in Khan’s Punjabi style

* Foday Musa Suso, a renowned Gambian griot or jali (oral historian/praise singer), is a master of the 21-stringed kora harp-lute.  He is known for his hypnotic performances of traditional Mandingo music, as well as for his collaborations with Herbie Hancock, Philip Glass, Jack DeJohnette, and the Kronos Quartet.

* Omar Faruk Tekbilek is one of the finest Turkish musicians performing on the ney (bamboo flute) and a versatile artist who has collaborated with oud virtuoso Simon Shaheen, Don Cherry, and Glen Velez, among others.  Singing and playing ney, he will perform mystical Sufi music of the Middle East with accompaniment on frame drum by his son Murat Tekbilek.

* Wu Man, the celebrated Chinese pipa virtuoso and interpreter of the traditional Chinese repertoire and contemporary pipa music, has been acclaimed for “her consummate musicality and brilliant technique” (New York Times). She will perform with the Scorchio Quartet, a cutting-edge string quartet that has been the “house quartet” of the Tibet House Benefit Concerts produced by Philip Glass.

September 30, 2013 Posted by | concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, world music | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment