Barnes to celebrate 80th birthday of composer Philip Glass with retrospective recital

Paul Barnes (left) visits with Composer Philip Glass in New York in January. Photo by Peter Barnes/Intrepid Visuals.
Paul Barnes (left) visits with Composer Philip Glass in New York in January. Photo by Peter Barnes/Intrepid Visuals.

Barnes to celebrate 80th birthday of composer Philip Glass with retrospective recital

calendar icon26 Jan 2017    user iconBy Kathe Andersen

Lincoln, Neb.--Marguerite Scribante Professor of Piano Paul Barnes will present a recital to celebrate the 80th birthday of composer Philip Glass on Tuesday, Jan. 31 at 7:30 p.m. in Kimball Recital Hall.

"Paul Barnes and Friends:  Philip Glass 80th Birthday Celebration" is free and open to the public. The concert will also be live webcast. Visit the day of the performance for the link.

Long-time friend and collaborator Barnes will offer a musical celebration for the Lincoln community.

Barnes met Glass in 1995 on a flight from Lincoln to Chicago. Barnes had just interviewed for his position at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Glass had been in Lincoln with Allen Ginsberg for an event at the university.

“That’s where it all started,” Barnes said. “And every time there is a big birthday for Philip, I get to travel all over the planet because I do a retrospective recital that starts from the very first transcriptions that I did back in 1996 and 1997 to the last CD that I just did last year.”

Collaborating with his UNL colleagues Julie Yoon, John Bailey, Hans Sturm and Mark Clinton, Barnes will offer several Nebraska premieres of works by Glass never performed in Kimball Recital Hall. These include Barnes’ new edition of Glass’s piano solo "Dreaming Awake" (2007).

“I’m opening the recital with that, and it’s a beautiful, expressive, character piece,” Barnes said.

He will also perform the unpublished Pendulum for Violin and Piano with Yoon and “Piano Concerto No. 2 (After Lewis and Clark)”, which includes a new version of “Sacagawea” for flute, bass and piano with Bailey and Sturm.

“I’m doing the first and third movements as a solo, but the middle movement will be a world premiere because I’ve created a new version for piano, double bass and flute that I will be performing with our own Hans Sturm and John Bailey,” Barnes said.

The recital will conclude with Glass’s energetic score "Four Movements for Two Pianos" with Barnes’ colleague Clinton.

“It’s just crazy, high energy, but it has a beautiful, slow movement. It’s just a really wonderful piece, so I’m excited to start rehearsing that with Mark,” Barnes said.

Barnes said Glass’ music covers a wide spectrum of human emotion.

“The reason that most people become musicians is that there’s this incredibly wide spectrum of human emotion that you get to completely incarnate and experience, and Glass’ music has got everything,” he said. “His music has some of the most tender, beautiful, poignant moments on the planet, and then there are moments of absolute insane high energy. It’s interesting because this program, along with the chamber music element, has a variety of musical messages from beginning to end. It’s going to be incredible.”

Praised by the New York Times for his “Lisztian thunder and deft fluidity,” and the San Francisco Chronicle as “ferociously virtuosic,” Barnes has electrified audiences with his intensely expressive playing and cutting-edge programming.

He has been featured four times on APM’s Performance Today, on the cover of Clavier Magazine, and his recordings are broadcast worldwide. He has performed in England, China, Korea, Taiwan, Austria, Russia, Greece, Italy, Serbia, Hungary, and in all major cities throughout the US.

Barnes is currently collaborating with Glass on his Piano Quintet No. 1 "Annunciation." Based on the communion hymn for the Feast of Annunciation. Barnes will world premiere the new quintet on April 17, 2018, with the Chiara String Quartet at the Lied Center for Performing Arts.

“Early on in our relationship, we both shared this interest in these ancient chant traditions,” Barnes said. “He has done a lot of work with Buddhist chant, and I, of course, as a Greek Orthodox chanter, do a lot of Byzantine chant, and we were really interested in that convergence. Twenty two years later, it’s finally happened.”

Barnes looks forward to celebrating his friend’s birthday in Lincoln, and Glass will be watching via the live webcast.

“This is really a celebration of how his music has enriched my life, and hopefully all of my friends and fans in the Lincoln area,” Barnes said.


To view Paul Barnes performing Philip Glass’ “Etude No. 8,” from his New Generations CD, visit