Philip Glass

Isis B.

The Chan Centre for the Performing Arts was a hum and buzz of anticipation as the audience waited for the composer-performer-innovator, Philip Glass, to walk on stage. Arts & Entertainment correspondent, Denise Mok was on the scene to capture some of the quiet grandeur and virtuosity of Philip Glass\' Vancouver performance. 

Amid roaring applause, Glass enters from the left and salutes the audience with his first solo piano piece, Etudes. From a distance his movements at the piano look precise and delicate—it doesn’t seem like he’s playing all those notes at all! His motions over the keys are highly controlled and conscientious, reaching a perfection of sound with occasional surprises and ripples. Even with such control and finesse, Glass’s compositions never relax in emotional intensity.

Glass’s understated style and quiet demeanor belies the passion and intensity of his compositions. The highlight of the evening was the sound of Allen Ginsberg’s voice superimposed over Glass’s Wichita Vortex Sutra (1990) so that it sounded like a mixed-media conversation between this composition and the enigmatic, riveting voice, omniscient in spirit and also material texture as it reverberated throughout the performance theatre. Glass’s appearance tonight was actually dedicated to this influential beat poet and writer friend, Allen Ginsberg, who  had died the exact same day in 1997.

Glass’s technical virtuosity and imaginative spirit were seen across all his compositions, ranging from Four Metamorphoses (1989), Mad Rush (1980), to the Buddhist spiritual aura of Satyagraha (1980) and A Musical Journey (1988). The common thread throughout these compositions being our place in the wider movement of humanity—a great energetic searching, moving, belonging, longing, and loving: in short, simply being seems a key component in all his pieces. Many moments I felt the layered music show up my life flashing before my eyes. Glass reveals to us our human connection in clear, passionate, musical transcendence.

You can find more on this enigmatic composer on

By Denise Mok, Arts & Entertainment Writer.

  • Posted on: 12 April 2016
  • By: Administrator
  • Author: Isis B.