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A Prolific Composer Pauses, Briefly, for His Birthday

SOURCE: Published: 2012-01-30
Philip Glass Early Birthday Party for Philip Glass at Philip Glass's friends had a reasonable excuse for jumping the gun and throwing him a 75th-birthday party two days early at Le Poisson Rouge on Sunday evening.

On the actual day, Tuesday, Mr. Glass will be at Carnegie Hall to hear the American premiere of his Ninth Symphony.

And he may not have a night off for some time: Already penciled into his calendar for this season is a run of concerts with his ensemble at the Park Avenue Armory in late February; productions of 14 of his operas around the world; further performances of his new symphony; and the premiere of his Symphony No. 10.

The Sunday evening concert was presented more as an entertainment for Mr. Glass than as a showcase for his music, which actually accounted for less than half the program. The Gambian kora player Foday Musa Suso, with whom Mr. Glass has collaborated on several scores, including “The Screens" (1990) and “Orion" (2004), performed a virtuosic solo piece on the lutelike kora, to which he periodically added a graceful, understated vocal line.

The Raybeats, a neo-surf band that flourished in the early 1980s, played a short set that ended with its souped-up, delightfully twangy cover of the 1961 Link Wray hit, “Jack the Ripper." And the violinist Ashley MacIsaac, who played the folk-tinged fiddle lines in the multicultural “Orion," contributed a spirited medley of Celtic tunes before joining Mr. Glass's son, the fledgling pop singer Zack Glass, in a bluesy slide-guitar piece in the style of Jorma Kaukonen, as well as a guitar-and-violin version of “Happy Birthday."
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