TVD Live: Philip Glass
at the ISSUE Project Room, 6/14

All words and images: Aaron Thompson

In the first segment of Thursday’s Philip Glass show at ISSUE Project Room, the notes of Metamorphosis rang through the music hall in currents, and the audience waited for each note as the silence became more palpable.

During the louder moments his head bowed down so it almost touched the keys, and then rose again as the piece receded back into soft waves of arpeggios. One piece led into another until the last note lingered against the stone walls, barely audible and broken by the applause of the crowd that filled every seat in the room. The crowd quieted, and the composer walked off the stage as a large vibraphone was moved in front of the grand piano.

I hadn’t listened to Tristan Perich’s music, and wasn’t sure what to expect from the piece including, as the program read, solo vibraphone and 2-channel 1-bit electronics. The quiet, droning layer of melodic noise created a wash of sound for the vibraphone notes to hover over, and in one of my favorite moments of the night the vibraphone player, Michael McCurdy, picked up a bow to his right and bowed a single note, then set the bow down and played under that lingering note.

After intermission and the clamor of chairs, Philip Glass and Jon Gibson played a set of piano and saxophone music. Gibson performed in a good amount of Glass’ early work in the late ’60s and ’70s, and watching the two play I wondered what things are learned during four decades of playing with another musician. This showed in their performance, and I think the most potent piece was one Jon played alone, where the room echoed lonely singular notes that never ended, and bled one into another.

As I closed my eyes and listened to the evening’s last piece played by Philip Glass, a piano undercurrent played to a recording of Allen Ginsberg’s “Wichita Vortex Sutra #3,” the two moved together so easily that I could no longer imagine one without the other, and they conjured up images of landscapes that I had seen before. I heard the foot pedal of the piano creak as one of the most powerful performances I have ever seen came to an end, and I knew that I was in the midst of masters of their craft.

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