Philip Glass & Steve Reich in the Oosterpoort


Noord Nederlands Orkest
Saturday January 21
de Oosterpoort

Philip Glass: Low Symphony, part 2 / Steve Reich: Parts of Music for 18 musicians / Philip Glass: Koyaanisqatsi, delen Koyaanisqatsie en Organic / Philip Glass: Violinconcerto 1
Conductor: Hans Leenders
Violin: Karen Gomyo

The concert in the Oosterpoort is in honour of the 80th birthday of both Philip Glass and Steve Reich, who have had a big influence on music in the 60s and have brought classical and popmusic closer together. NNO plays part of the concert in honour of David Bowie, as his ‘Heroes’ has influenced Philip Glass’ work.


I propose to you to give a listen to “Pulses”. This is a piece from the album “Music for 18 Musicians” which saw its world premiere in 1976. About 41 years later this album is still one of the most notable of Steve Reich. Beautifully played by the Noord Nederlands Orkest the piece summed up the hypnotic, repetitive and ritualistic path the concert night was going to take.  I remember that in the concert there were more than 18 musicians and this is because of the extensive doubling the piece requires.

On the other hand, by the end of the concert, on stage there was just a handful of musicians. This probably tends to happen in minimalist compositions due to heavily repeated musical figures. Visually this is surprising. The musicians from the previous piece left. Now the few left are surrounded by empty chairs. The conductor is in position and on stage enters a man. He walks next to the conductor and faced the audience, standing in front of a microphone. There is complete silence and immediately we can hear the organ being played. After, the man starts singing, saying “Koyaanisqatsi” which is the also the name of the composition.

Although slightly more popular than Koyaanisqatsi, the album “Glassworks” was not included in the programme. This is not coincidental since back in 2013, Philip Glass himself was present in Noorderpoort, together with Philip Glass Ensemble for the occasion of premiering the live accompaniment of Koyaanisqatsi. Adding to this, in 2007 the city of Groningen was the “stage” for Philip Glass festival where he performed two piano recitals.

Therefore, Groningen is no strange place for Mr. Glass and this is good news for the lovers of his music, hoping that he will perform anytime again soon.

By Radu Hainaru

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