Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Those who can, do

Calgary Colour 2

When I was in New York City last April, one item on my (far too crammed) schedule for Saturday night was to go see glass: a portrait of Philip in twelve parts, which was just starting a two-week run. Because things got messed up -- never try to keep to a schedule when the Pope is in the same town as you are! -- I ended up sitting in my hotel room with a six-pack of Sierra Nevada beer and a take-away dinner from Zabar's instead.

Thankfully, the documentary appeared here in Calgary this past weekend, and I made the first showing on Saturday. I've been a Philip Glass fan ever since I first saw Koyaanisqatsi when I was living in New York in 1982.

(I've lost track how many times I've seen it since, but my favourite was in April 2006, when he and the ensemble played the soundtrack live to the movie at my local concert hall. We had tickets dead in the middle, six rows from the front, and at times, I hummed along, much to the amusement of my seatmates. We were close enough that we could hear him singing at the end: magical!)

I've always been a fan of documentaries, whether making them myself on radio or watching them on the screen, and I thoroughly enjoyed this one as well. One aspect I particularly liked was watching Mr. Glass's process of work, and his attitude towards letting the work take itself where it wants to go.

In response to a question from director Scott Hicks, Philip Glass talked about his creative process as flowing like an underground river -- you feel it below and sense its presence. For those of us who create, it's a familiar feeling.

He also talked about not caring about whether the music he began to create when he returned to the U.S. in the late 1960s (from studying with Nadia Boulanger in Paris) had a predisposed audience, because he almost felt that he had no control over what was emerging. I can relate to that too.

As you can tell from the pictures above and below, it's now fall here: the days are getting shorter, the nights are cooler, and deadlines for commitments are approaching. Between the latter and working for Elections Canada, the days are busy.

Natural grasses

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