At first glance, Devonté Hynes and Philip Glass might appear like musical opposites. Hynes, the 31-year-old British producer and songwriter who performs under the name Blood Orange, makes hit records with Solange and Carly Rae Jepson. Glass, the 80-year-old Baltimore-born New Yorker who writes operas and film scores, is one of classical music's legendary artists.
But walk into Hynes' third floor loft in New York's Chinatown and you'll find a photo of Glass on his piano. Hynes, it turns out, is a fan. He discovered Glass' music by chance as a London teenager, when he bought the 1982 album Glassworks on the strength of its crystalline cover image alone. What he heard after he brought it home transfixed him. Today, he says Glass' influence "seeps" into his music — the interlocking marimba parts in "Best to You" or the feather light ostinato that ignites "Better Than Me." Last year, he surprised a few ears when he played excerpts from Glass' solo piano suite Metamorphosis during a live session on SiriusXM.
This spring, Hynes invited Glass to his apartment where they sat at a piano, compared chords and traded stories. Ninety minutes later, their wide ranging conversation had touched on the pulse of New York City, the pains of striking out on your own as a musician, what role the arts play in society today and Hamilton. Plus about a hundred other ideas.
Maybe it's that willingness to let something unknown percolate into a new idea. And maybe that's why these two musicians, some 50 years apart in age, decided to meet on a cloudy April afternoon in Chinatown to let yet another intriguing collaboration blossom.
Glass composed the work in the summer and autumn of 2009 after several years of exchanges between him and McDuffie with the idea of creating a piece that would serve as a companion to Vivaldi's The Four Seasons. When the work was presented to McDuffie, it emerged that his interpretation of the seasons was somewhat different from Glass'. For this reason, Glass presents this as an opportunity for the listener to make his/her own interpretation. The titles of the movements therefore offer no clues as to where Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter might fall, with the composer welcoming other interpretations.
Instead of the cadenza typically found in most violin concertos, Glass provided a number of solo pieces for the violinist which act as a prelude to the first movement, and three 'songs' that precede each of the following three movements. Glass also anticipated that these could be played together as separate concert music when abstracted from the whole work.
Maki Namekawa plays Philip Glass Piano Etude No 9 & No 20
Directed, filmed and edited by ANDREAS H. BITESNICH.
Styling: Nina Kepplinger Make Up and Hair: Wolfgang Lindenhofer Sound recording: Robert Lunak Assistent: Christoph Kaltenbacher Assistent: Michael Obex Technician at Ars Electronica Center: Florian Wanninger
Philip Glass, early protagonist of the Minimalist movement, studied with Milhaud and Nadia Boulanger. His first job, assisting Ravi Shankar on a film soundtrack, heralded the start of his own successful cinema career, and to date he has scored over fifty movies. Early works tended to be abstract, but from the mid-1970s his attention shifted towards the stage. His first operatic triumph, Einstein on the Beach, did much to reinvigorate the international contemporary opera scene. Profoundly interested in traditional cultures, Glass often draws on Eastern traditions, as in Monsters of Grace (1997), a multimedia collaboration based on the writings of Rumi.
Lucinda Childs Dance Company performs Dance (1979) - Lucinda Childs, Philip Glass and Sol LeWitt Peformed at the Theatre du Chatelet, Paris, October 25th 2014
Dance 4 Choreography by Lucinda Childs Music composed and performed by Philip Glass on Yamaha YC45D dual manual electric organ Film by Sol LeWitt Stage Dancer - Caitlin Scranton Film Dancer - Lucinda Childs