UNCG Campus Weekly

Campus Weekly is published each Wednesday when classes are in session. In the summer, it is published biweekly.

Stage time with Philip Glass, for UNCG performers

Photo of Kevin Geraldi, Philip Glass and David Holley during rehearsal.Rehearsing in front of an empty hall wouldn’t make anyone nervous, right?

Well, what if legendary composer Philip Glass is looking on as you perform scenes from one of his operas.

Tuesday, April 14, the UNCG cast and orchestra for “Galileo Galilei” did just that.

From about 4 to 4:45 p.m., Philip Glass took in select parts of his opera composed in 2001.“He sat on the stage with our cast, quite a few of the orchestra members, our pianist Emily Russ, Kevin (Geraldi) and me, and we performed parts of scenes 9, 3 and 2,” Opera Director David Holley recounted. “He was very gracious.”

After seeing them perform, Philip Glass talked with the cast and orchestra members for about 20 minutes, said Kevin Geraldi, who directed the orchestra. “He first told them about his inspiration for the opera – the image of Galileo as an old, blind man, who would then relive his life through his memories. He drew the connection to the Orion metaphor, who was also blind in the myth, and who becomes a pivotal character in the opera.”

Derek Jackenheimer, a first-year master’s of vocal performance student splendidly portrayed Old Galileo. “Getting to meet Philip Glass was a once in a lifetime opportunity,” he said. “He was very kind and it was a great experience performing an opera for the composer!”

Geraldi echoed those comments about his being very gracious. “He loved what the students demonstrated for him, and talked a bit about how working in the theater develops a sort of family bond among the performers. He’s exactly right about that.”

Doctor of musical arts student Julia Reeves, a violinist, was struck by Glass’ quiet manner and thoughtful remarks. “He clearly gives great consideration to his craft and he had a gentle sense of humor. When remarking on attending our Wednesday morning matinee, he simply said, “10 a.m? Nice time for an opera!”

By Mike Harris
Photo by Brad McMillan. L-r, David Holley, Philip Glass and Kevin Geraldi.