UNCG Campus Weekly

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UNCG Music students have Q&A with Philip Glass

Photo of over head view of Q & A session with Phillip GlassLast week UNCG hosted iconic American composer Philip Glass in a two-day residency.

On Tuesday, he and violinist Timothy Fain performed as the final show in the UNCG UPAS series. Fain had tweeted a clip of Glass and Fain rehearsing earlier that day in Aycock.

A thrill for UNCG Music students came at 6 p.m., two hours before the curtain. The iconic composer had a casual conversation with several UNCG classes and Music faculty for a full hour, as he took questions on a broad range of topics (see picture).

Topics ranged from the importance of taking care of your body, to his experience working with Woody Allen, to the advantages of not being “discovered” till you’re older. About Minimilist composition and his contemporaries, about different types of music, about how to foster career longevity. He favorably noted he had had the opportunity to hear some of the UNCG production of his opera, that afternoon. (See related story.) He encouraged the students to “learn about everything” – how lighting works, costuming, etc. You can do that at a really good university like UNCG, he explained.

Junior Kaitlyn Wagner, featured earlier in Campus Weekly, sat in the front row and asked the first question – about what he thought the future of composition would look like in light of today’s changing technological landscape.

Before the Q&A, she gave him a copy of her composition “I, Philip” and spoke with him a bit. “He was excited to hear that I also perform my music as well as write it,” she said. After the concert she spoke with him a bit more. “I told Mr. Glass that his 5th String Quartet was the first score I ever bought and is probably the reason I’m a composer today. He said that he hopes it brings me luck, and that it was a lucky score for him as well.”

UNCG flutist Janet Phillips, who’ll receive her doctorate next month, and will graduate next month with my doctorate in music performance, was at the talk and also met him. “One thing I remember him saying that stuck with and inspired me was that his music didn’t gain so much popularity until he was in his 40s. I’m in my 40s and just beginning an expanded career after raising children and completing my graduate work.” It was great to hear those encouraging words, she notes.

Additionally, Philip Glass and Timothy Fain were part of an artists reception at the UNCG Weatherspoon Art Museum after their concert. Some photos are here.

Earlier in the day, news broke that Glass had won the prestigious Glenn Gould Award.

Landon Surratte reflected on one thing that stuck with him. “He said, ‘I always knew what I wanted to do and I did it.’ That one phrase gave me, a person with a lot of big dreams for the future, a great deal of inspiration. The concert was phenomenal from start to finish. I noticed that people of all ages were there, from children to the older generations and what I loved about that was everyone that I saw was engaged in the music. Considering Glass is one of my favorite composers it was almost surreal having the opportunity to see him perform in person and actually meet him.”

He added, “Thanks to the university and more specifically the School of Music, Theatre and Dance, I was able to have this once-in-a-lifetime experience of meeting one of the greatest music makers of our time.”

Glass returned to campus the next day, attending Wednesday’s UNCG 10 a.m. performance of his “Galileo Galilei” opera along with more than 800 students from area schools. (They’ll tell their grandkids someday about the time they saw Philip Glass at UNCG and a UNCG production of his opera on Galileo, on a remarkable school cultural outing. And they can use this web posting as proof.)

By Mike Harris