Live Music

Philip Glass’s Boundary-Crossing Symphonies

Celebrate the legendary modern composer in Greenpoint with the American Contemporary Music Ensemble.

Photo by Mark Shelby Perry

Like many a teenage movie nerd, I first encountered the music of composer Philip Glass on the screen with Koyaanisqatsi, director Godfrey Reggio’s nonnarrative eco-warning trip toy. As captivating as the Qatsi Trilogy’s imagery remains, it is Glass’s synthesizer, strings, and chorale-heavy score that stays with you.

The soundtrack to Koyaanitsqatsi came late in Glass’s remarkable career, following the immensely influential minimalist mission statement “Music in Twelve Parts” and the first of his operatic collaborations with director Robert Wilson, Einstein on the Beach. While the classical world considers Glass one of the most influential figures of the 20th century, it is film (both high- and lowbrow) that would sustain him financially for much of his career and provide mainstream critical appreciation, including three Oscar nominations, a Golden Globe, and a BAFTA.

As part of a yearlong celebration of Glass’s 80th birthday, acclaimed chamber music collective American Contemporary Music Ensemble (loftily acronymed as ACME) will perform Glass’s String Quartet No. 3, a reorganized compilation of another of his iconic film scores, for Paul Schrader’s Mishima. That piece will be followed by Glass’s robust 1991 String Quartet No. 5; the program finishes with the solo organ composition Dance No. 4, written for the dance company that originally performed Einstein, given life by wunderkind composer and pianist Timo Andres.

Why You Should Go: Glass’s hypnotically beautiful string quartets will be brought to vibrant life by ACME’s world-class musicians within the sacred and intimate confines of Brooklyn’s San Damiano Mission.

Photo by Ryuhei Shindo

American Contemporary Music Ensemble vs. Philip Glass
San Damiano Mission
85 North 15th Street (at Nassau Avenue), Greenpoint
Thursday, May 18
7 p.m.