In the Spirit to Premiere SONGS OF MILAREPA by Philip Glass, 10/24
Under the artistic direction of Philip Glass, In the Spirit features an extraordinary array of acclaimed musicians to celebrate the great spiritual and cultural traditions stretching from Tibet and China to Africa, the Middle East, and the West. In the Spirit will be held at The Town Hall in New York City to mark The Garrison Institute's 10th anniversary and bring its mission to a wider public. Located on the Hudson River an hour north of New York City, the Institute develops contemplative-based programs that integrate the wisdom from deep reflection with scientific research to help solve the pressing social and environmental challenges of our time. Working in the fields of climate change, education and trauma, the Institute is dedicated to creating a more compassionate and resilient future through personal and social transformation.
Speaking about the Institute, Mr. Glass says, "Fifty years from now ...I can't believe the world will be livable without these institutions as they become important places to seed ideas, to develop ideas...places that provide leadership and inspiration."
In the Spirit features:
* The New York premiere of Songs of Milarepa, a work by Philip Glass set to the poems of Milarepa (1052-1135), one of Tibet's most famous saints and poets. This work was commissioned by the Sagra Musicale Umbra Festival and premiered in 1997 in Perugia, Italy for orchestra and baritone; the version to be performed on October 24th was recently developed for solo piano and baritone. Mr. Glass chose three of Milarepa's poems for this work: "One is about the renunciation and life of the yogi who lives in a cave. A second one, song of the white staff, uses the cane to illustrate the ideas of Buddhism that he wants to talk about. And third is the song of the five sisters in which he talks about the ultimate truth of reality." The New York premiere will be performed by baritone Gregory Purnhagen, and prize-winning pianist Nelson Padgett, members of the Philip Glass Ensemble. Mr. Purnhagen, a frequent interpreter of Glass's music, appeared in Le Belle et la Bete, Galileo Galilei, Monsters of Grace, Einstein on the Beach and Hydrogen Jukebox. He also created roles in operas by Anthony Braxton, Fred Ho and Michael Kowalski, and appeared as a soloist with Musica Sacra, Voices of Ascension, Chatham Baroque, and the Mark Morris Dance Group. Padgett, a protégé of Leon Fleisher, has accompanied Pinchas Zukerman, Pamela Franks and Augustin Hadelich, among others.
* The Pomerium vocal ensemble, inspired by the renowned chapel choirs of the Renaissance, revives the golden age of a cappella singing. Noted for its luminous sound, the group has been described as the "most venerable of New York's early music vocal ensembles (The Wall Street Journal), "the standard by which early music vocal groups are measured" (The New York Times), and "a driving force for performances of Renaissance polyphony" (The Washington Post). Pomerium is under the direction of Alexander Blachly, who founded the group in 1972; it is widely known for its interpretations of Du Fay Ockeghem, Busnoys, Josquin, Lassus and Palestrina. Its name-medieval Latin for "garden" or "orchard"-derives from the title of a treatise by the 14th-century music theorist Marchettus of Padua, who explained that his Pomerium in arte musice mensurate contains the "flowers and fruits" of the art of music. For this program, the 15-member ensemble will perform O vos omnes by Carlo Gesualdo (1567-1613), Ave Maria by Josquin Desprez (ca. 1452-1521), In ieiunio et fletu and Derelinquit impius by Thomas Tallis (ca. 1505-1585), and Vide homo by Orlande de Lassus (1532-1594).
* Riyaaz Qawwali performs the ecstatic improvisational Sufi vocal tradition made famous in the West by the late Pakistani singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Qawwali, mesmerizing music which dates back to the late 13th century, is characterized by powerful vocals (similar to gospel in a call-and-response manner) and lively rhythms; its central themes are love, devotion and longing for the Divine. Based in Texas, the ensemble is acknowledged as the only professional qawwali group in the US. This multi-sectarian group is composed of Muslims and Hindus who perform in the Punjabi style, following in the footsteps of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. It is under the direction of Sonny Mehta, its lead vocalist, composer and arranger who studied Hindustani classical music and counts Nusrat, Jagjit Singh and his grandfather as his greatest musical influences. This program marks the ensemble's second NY appearance (it performed in 2012 at the Locating the Sacred Festival).