Mobtown Modern demonstrates enduring appeal of Philip Glass
Such was the case on a bitterly cold Wednesday night at Baltimore's Windup Space, where the Contemporary Museum's Mobtown Modern Music Series presented a complete performance of "Glassworks" by Baltimore's own Philip Glass.
I imagine the first audiences to hear this piece back in 1981 looked a lot like this one (right down to some of the hairstyles) and were just as enthusiastic. This is Glass at his most instantly likable, I think -- assuming you can tolerate at all the fundamental minimalist concepts of repetition, rhythmic pulsation and narrow harmonic and melodic range.
In "Glassworks," the composer takes those components and gives them
Those qualities came through effectively in the Mobtown Modern performance, despite occasional roughness around the edges. The 11-member ensemble, conducted by Julien Benichou, reached a peak of kinetic power in the "Rubric" movement. Guy Werner's accompanying video projections (rising or setting suns, urban traffic, home movies, etc.) didn't add much to the experience, but I may have well been in a minority.
This concert marked the beginning of "Synchronicity," a collaborative venture between Mobtown and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. A couple of BSO members were in the ensemble for "Glassworks, and BSO music director Marin Alsop, a sterling champion of contemporary music, was on hand for a pre-concert discussion with Mobtown curator and top-drawer sax man Brian Sacawa. Some BSO staffers were in the packed house, mingling with the kind of folks they don't typically see at Meyerhoff Hall.
It's a great idea, this mixing of what, in New York, would be considered uptown and downtown musical camps. In Baltimore, we're only talking a few blocks, but the coming together means a lot.
The BSO continues the focus on Glass works this weekend with performances of "Icarus at the Edge of Time."
PHOTO (Sacks &Co.) COURTESY OF BSO