From March 31 to April 2, composer Philip Glass was in residency at the University of Virginia, working with undergraduate and graduate students. Glass is a prolific composer, known for music with repetitive structures, and has written numerous symphonies, concertos, film scores and pieces of chamber music. His visit culminated in his solo piano performance of four of his works, “Six Etudes,” “Mad Rush,” “Metamorphoses” and “Wichita Vortex Sutra” to a packed Old Cabell Hall.
The residency was planned wholly by the student-run Arts Board, which brings one artist in music, visual arts or drama each spring to the University. “We knew Glass was interdisciplinary and would appeal to a wide variety of people,” says Gretchen Michelson (Grad ’18), graduate chair of the Arts Board. She described Glass as being “incredibly personable” with the students he advised. “He wanted to know all about whomever he was talking to, what each student was studying,” she says. “He also gave practical advice to the music composition students, lots of pointers about the business side of composing.”
On the second night of the residency, students and faculty serenaded Glass with performances of his own works in Old Cabell Hall. MICE (the Mobile Interactive Computer Ensemble) performed Glass’ iconic 1968 work “1x1,” amplified through their computers. The UVA Chamber singers sang two choral compositions, “Haze Gold” and “Three Songs,” and the UVA New Music Ensemble performed a segment of “Music with Changing Parts.”
Glass gave a standing ovation and said to the crowd afterward, “Some of that I hadn’t heard in 50 years, really and truly. It was all great, beautifully done. You’re definitely doing something right here at UVA.”