Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Powaqqatsi and Philip Glass at the Hollywood Bowl

It would not be summer without a trip to the Hollywood Bowl. This season, I had to see Philip Glass perform with his Ensemble to the movie "Powaqqatsi" (again).

My first exposure to Philip was in the early '80s in Indiana, thanks to access to cable TV. I heard him play selections from his "Glassworks" album (from 1982) and was immediately a fan. It was totally different from what I thought of as classical music, yet all the typical orchestral instruments were there. It was wild stuff! If you don't know his style, he describes himself as a composer of "music with repetitive structures." It was - and still is - a little trippy and hypnotic!

Flash forward to 1987, and my move to NYC. There I met other Philip fanatics, but they were devotees due to his scoring for the movie "Koyaanisqatsi," a Hopi word for "life out of balance," released in 1983. As I knew the drill, it wasn't a huge stretch to imagine a film consisting totally of imagery with no dialogue and only Philip's accompanying music. So, I watched the movie a few times on laser disc (remember, this was the '80s!) and jumped at the chance to see Philip and his Ensemble performing with the movie playing on a theater screen. It was awesome!

"Powaqqatsi," meaning "life in transformation," was then released in 1988, and I got to see it performed with Philip shortly afterward. Twenty-plus years later, now in Los Angeles, I'm watching "Powaqqatsi" (again) with Philip Glass, and a whole new group of friends, outdoors at the Hollywood Bowl. In the two decades since, there has been lots of transformations in my life, but I'm happy to note it was just as good as I remembered! (I'm also glad that I did get to re-experience "Koyaanisqatsi" live at Royce Hall probably 10 years ago.)

There's still the third installation of the Qatsi trilogy, "Naqoyqatsi," or "life as war" from 2002, that I haven't seen. Mr. Glass, you coming back to town any time soon?

Click here to learn more about Philip Glass.

Click here to learn more about the Qatsi trilogy.

Click here to go to the Hollywood Bowl's Web site.

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