PHILIP GLASS ENSEMBLE
Established by composer Philip Glass, the first performance by the Philip Glass Ensemble was held in May 1969 at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, City. Embraced first by the visual art community working in SoHo in the early 1970’s, the early concerts performed by the Philip Glass Ensemble were considered visual as well as musical events and were often performed in art galleries, artist lofts, and museum spaces rather than traditional performing art centers.
Since that time, the members of the PGE have become known as the premiere performers of the music of Philip Glass and continue to be an inspiration for new work. Over the past thirty years, the group has performed on four continents in some of the most prestigious music festivals and concert venues throughout the world. They have been featured in Philip Glass’ opera Einstein on the Beach as well as the music theater projects Hydrogen Jukebox, 1000 Airplanes on the Roof, The Photographer, La Belle et la Bête and Monsters of Grace.
In June 2004, in Athens, Greece, Glass premiered Orion, a new work for ensemble and world musicians commissioned by the Cultural Olympiad 2001-2004. Following its world premiere in Athens, Orion was performed in Greece, Italy, France, London, Australia, as well as cities in the United States.
The Philip Glass Ensemble tours regularly with Music in Twelve Parts, Koyaanisqatsi, Powaqqatsi, La Belle et la Bête and Dracula.
PLEASE NOTE: Actual Ensemble configurations vary depending on the Philip Glass works being performed.
PHILIP GLASS (Composer, Keyboards) Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Philip Glass is a graduate of the University of Chicago and the Juilliard School. In the early 1960s, Glass spent two years of intensive study in Paris with Nadia Boulanger and while there, earned money by transcribing Ravi Shankar's Indian music into Western notation. By 1974, Glass had a number of innovative projects, creating a large collection of new music for The Philip Glass Ensemble, and for the Mabou Mines Theater Company. This period culminated in Music in Twelve Parts, and the landmark opera, Einstein on the Beach for which he collaborated with Robert Wilson. Since Einstein, Glass has expanded his repertoire to include music for opera, dance, theater, chamber ensemble, orchestra, and film. His scores have received Academy Award nominations (Kundun, The Hours, Notes on a Scandal) and a Golden Globe (The Truman Show). Symphony No. 7 and Symphony No. 8—Glass' latest symphonies—along with Waiting for the Barbarians, an opera based on the book by J.M. Coetzee, premiered in 2005. In the past few years several new works were unveiled, including Book of Longing (Luminato Festival) and an opera about the end of the Civil War entitled Appomattox (San Francisco Opera). Glass' opera Kepler premiered with the Landestheater Linz, Austria in September 2009 and his latest opera, The Perfect American about the death of Walt Disney premiered at the Teatro Real on January 22nd, Madrid in 2013 and will be performed by the English National Opera in June 2013. His Symphony #9 was completed in 2011 and was premiered by the Bruckner Orchestra in Linz, Austria on January 1, 2012 and his Symphony #10 received its European premiere in France in August. Glass' most recent opera Spuren de Verirrten, 'The Lost', premiered at the Landestheater Linz, Austria on April 13th, 2013.
MICHAEL RIESMAN (Music Director, Keyboards) is a composer, conductor, keyboardist, record producer, and is the Music Director of the Philip Glass Ensemble. He has conducted many recordings of works by Glass, including Einstein on the Beach, Glassworks, The Photographer, Songs From Liquid Days, Dance Pieces, Music in 12 Parts, Passages, Orion, and Book of Longing, and almost every Glass film soundtrack including Koyaanisqatsi, Mishima, Powaqqatsi, The Thin Blue Line, Anima Mundi, A Brief History of Time, Candyman, Kundun, The Truman Show, Naqoyqatsi, The Fog of War, Secret Window, Taking Lives, Undertow, Roving Mars, The Illusionist, and Notes on a Scandal. He was the pianist for the Academy Award nominated soundtrack for The Hours, and has also recorded a solo piano arrangement of that score, as well as two other albums of solo piano arrangements of Glass film music: Dracula and Philip Glass Soundtracks. He has received two Grammy nominations as conductor, for The Photographer and for Kundun. As pianist, he as appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Milwaukee Symphony, and other major ensembles. As conductor, he as appeared with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Bergen (Norway) Philharmonic, the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, and will appear with the New York Philharmonic in November 2011. He has conducted and performed on albums by Paul Simon (Hearts and Bones), Scott Johnson (Patty Hearst), Mike Oldfield (Platinum), Ray Manzarek (Carmina Burana), David Bowie (BlackTie/White Noise), and Gavin Bryars (Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet). Mr. Riesman released an album, Formal Abandon, on the Rizzoli label, which originated from a commission by choreographer Lucinda Childs. His film scores include Enormous Changes at the Last Minute, Pleasantville (1976), and Christian Blackwood's Signed: Lino Brocka. Mr. Riesman studied at Mannes College of Music and Harvard University, where he received a Ph.D., and has taught at Harvard and SUNY-Purchase. He has been Composer-in-Residence at the Marlboro Music Festival and at the Tanglewood Festival, where he conducted performances of his own works.
LISA BIELAWA (Vocalist) Composer-vocalist Lisa Bielawa is a 2009 Rome Prize winner in Musical Composition. She began touring with the Philip Glass Ensemble in 1992, and in 1997 co-founded the MATA Festival. Bielawa was appointed Artistic Director of the San Francisco Girls Chorus in 2013. Gramophone reports, "Bielawa is gaining gale force as a composer, churning out impeccably groomed works that at once evoke the layered precision of Vermeer and the conscious recklessness of Jackson Pollock," and The New York Times describes her music as, "ruminative, pointillistic and harmonically slightly tart." Recent highlights of Bielawa's music include premieres of Rondolette by the string quartet Brooklyn Rider and pianist Bruce Levingston and Double Duet by the Washington Saxophone Quartet; and performances of Graffiti dell'amante by Bielawa with the Chicago Chamber Musicians in Chicago and with Brooklyn Rider in New York, Harrisburg, and Rome. Bielawa's work Chance Encounter, a project of Creative Capital, was premiered by soprano Susan Narucki and The Knights in Lower Manhattan's Seward Park. Bielawa is currently at work on Airfield Broadcasts, a massive 60-minute work for more than 600 musicians which will be premiered on the tarmac of the former Tempelhof Airport in Berlin (May 2013) and at Crissy Field in San Francisco (October 2013). www.lisabielawa.net.
DAVID CROWELL (Woodwinds), Brooklyn-based composer and instrumentalist David Crowell brings a "singular vision that transcends genre" (Exclaim) to diverse forms of composed and improvisational music, and has been praised for compositional work that is "notable for its crystalline sonic beauty" (Boston Globe). David's music has been performed at the Lucerne Festival, Carnegie Hall, Museum of Modern Art, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Merkin Hall, Mizzou New Music Festival and the MATA Festival by groups such as the JACK Quartet, Alarm Will Sound and the NOW Ensemble. His band, Empyrean Atlas, released their first record in February 2013.
DAN DRYDEN (Live Sound Mix) has been a member of the Philip Glass Ensemble since 1983. He has mixed performances of PGE concerts, The Photographer, Einstein on the Beach (1984, 1993), Koyaanisqatsi (Live), Powaqqatsi (Live), La Belle et La Bête, Les Enfants Terribles and Hydrogen Jukebox. He has also worked with Lloyd Cole, Laurie Anderson, Ravi Shankar, the Raybeats and others. In the studio, he has recorded The Photographer, Satyagraha and Mishima as well as the works of other artists. Dan has been the driving force in the preservation of the visionary environment The Healing Machines created from 1954-1986 by the late artist/inventor Emery Blagdon in Nebraska.
STEPHEN ERB (On-Stage Audio Engineer) spans, and often combines, the worlds of music and theatre. His work with the Philip Glass Ensemble includes the productions La Belle et la Bête, Monsters of Grace, Koyaanisqatsi, Powaqqatsi, Naqoyqatsi, Orion, and the Einstein on the Beach concert at Carnegie Hall. He has acted as audio engineer for the Philip Glass/Leonard Cohen piece Book of Longing and the Bang on a Can/Ridge Theatre’s The Carbon Copy Building. In the theatre world he is credited with Broadway productions such as Annie Get Your Gun, The Goodbye Girl and Jane Eyre. Off-Broadway includes Marvin's Room and Sight Unseen. Theatrical tours include Hello Dolly (with Carol Channing), Les Miserables, proof, and most recently Doubt (with Cherry Jones). He spent six years as Sound Master at the La Jolla Playhouse working on such productions as the Ray Davies/Des McAnuff musical 80 Days, Peter Sellers' Ajax and the Nat and Cannonball Adderly musical Shout Up A Morning. Stephen is honored to continue to collaborate with the other members of The Philip Glass Ensemble.
JON GIBSON (Woodwinds)is a composer, multi-wind instrumentalist and visual artist who has been active in new music for over 40 years. He has been a member of the Glass Ensemble since it's beginnings and has performed with Glass in other configurations including solo/duet concerts featuring the music of both Gibson and Glass. He has performed in every performance of Einstein on the Beach. Gibson's own output includes music for solo instruments, various ensembles, dance, music theater, video, film and opera. He has performed and collaborated with a host of musicians, choreographers and artists, including Merce Cunningham, Nancy Topf, Nina Winthrop, Ralph Gibson, Lucinda Childs, JoAnne Akalitis, Harold Budd, David Behrman, LaMonte Young, Steve Reich, Elisabetta Vittoni and Thomas Buckner. Gibson's music can be heard on the Tzadik, Orange Mountain Music, New Tone, Point Music, New World, Lovely Music, EarRational and Einstein Records labels.
KURT MUNKACSI (Sound Design), president of Euphorbia Productions, has been on the leading edge of music for the past thirty years. His long time association with composer Philip Glass is well known. Mr. Munkacsi has produced all of Glass’ commercial recordings. He also designed the sophisticated sound systems used for such Glass theatrical works as Einstein on the Beach, Koyaanisqatsi, La Belle et La Bête and Monsters of Grace. Euphorbia Productions is involved in all aspects of contemporary music - producing soundtracks for such noted directors as Martin Scorsese, Peter Weir, Errol Morris, Paul Schrader and Godfrey Reggio; a joint venture with Polygram International, Point Music; building a state of the art 48 track digital recording studio in New York City, Looking Glass Studios; and producing CD’s for companies such as Sony Classical, Nonesuch Records, Elektra Entertainment, Virgin Records, Island Records, A&M Records and others. In 1998 the musical score he produced for Scorsese’s Kundun, received Academy Award and Golden Globe Nominations for Best Original Score, and won the L.A. Film Critics award for Best Music/Score. For Munkacsi’s complete discography go to www.allmusic.com.
MICK ROSSI (Keyboard, KOYAANISQATSI / Percussion, POWAQQATSI, NAQOYQATSI) Pianist, percussionist, and composer Mick Rossi is known for his progressive, diverse work in the New York Downtown scene and beyond, and has been described as “an exemplar of the cross-fertilization between jazz and classical music worlds...the smile-creating mix of humor, surprise, gorgeous sounds and virtuosity." (All About Jazz). A longtime Philip Glass collaborator/ensemble member as pianist, percussionist and conductor, Rossi has collaborated worldwide with artists as diverse as Dave Douglas, Kelly Clarkson, Leonard Cohen and Renee Fleming, and is currently on tour with Paul Simon. He recently conducted Glass’s “Book Of Longing” at the Sydney Opera House, “The Bacchae” in Central Park, and has appeared on seven Glass recordings, including “Music in 12-Parts” and “Orion.” His third string quartet was recently performed in New York’s Merkin Hall (“Shostakovichian paranoia” – NY Times), and his ninth CD “Songs From The Broken Land” was recently released on Orange Mountain Music (“Bartokian and engergetic” – NY Times).
ANDREW STERMAN (Woodwinds) is a flutist, saxophonist, clarinetist, and composer, whom the New York Times praised for "beautiful and sensitive playing", first appeared as a jazz saxophonist in the bands of Buddy Rich, Louis Bellson, Gil Evans, Toshiko Akiyoshi, and many others. Always a fan of great jazz singers, while very young he played with many of the all time masters, including Sarah Vaughan, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Joe Williams, Mel Torme, and Aretha Franklin. Audiences have heard him with jazz masters including Freddie Hubbard, Dizzy Gillespie, Fred Hersch, Rashied Ali, Wallace Roney, Roland Hanna, and Ron Carter. Equally committed to contemporary classical music, Sterman has been soloist with MATA, ISCM, Bang on a Can, Avian Orchestra, and the Eos Orchestra. Mr. Sterman has been a member of the Philip Glass Ensemble since 1992, and is featured on the CD, Philip Glass: Saxophone. Sterman’s CD entitled Blue Canvas With Spiral, received international praise: “A beautiful jazz CD, powerfully played and containing that certain spark seldom heard....” (Musicworks, Canada), “a sound as pure as moonlight” (Australian Age). Mr Sterman’s newest CD, The Path To Peace: Music Inspired by the Inner Journey of Mahatma Gandhi, composed as a dance/video/music collaboration with choreographer Sridhar Shanmugam, was released on the Orange Mountain Music label. The Path To Peace has already been gathering strong praise from a wide audience: “Only Gandhi could evoke music as beautiful and spiritually moving as this. Listening to Andrew Sterman’s The Path To Peace is for me a deep meditation on personal and political peacefulness” (Lawrence Fuchs, Professor Emeritus, Brandeis University, Former speech writer for JFK), and “A wonderful and inspiring album” (Philip Glass). Visit www.andrewsterman.com and www.thepathtopeace.net