January 31, 2017

Barnes' recital to celebrate Philip Glass' 80th birthday

Paul Barnes (left) visits with composer Philip Glass in New York in January.
Peter Barnes | Intrepid Visuals

Peter Barnes | Intrepid Visuals
Paul Barnes (left) visits with composer Philip Glass in New York in January.

Nebraska’s Paul Barnes and colleagues will celebrate the 80th birthday of composer Philip Glass in a 7:30 p.m. Jan. 31 recital 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 available the night of the performance through live webcast.

Barnes, Marguerite Scribante Professor of Piano in the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts, is a long-time friend of and collaborator with Glass. The two met in 1995 on a flight from Lincoln to Chicago after Barnes interviewed for a position at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Glass had been in Lincoln with Allen Ginsberg for an event on campus.

“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 Nebraska colleagues Julie Yoon, John Bailey, Hans Sturm and Mark Clinton, Barnes will deliver 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).

He will also perform the unpublished “Pendulum for Violin and Piano” with Yoon and “Piano Concerto No. 2 (After Lewis and Clark)”, which includes a new version of “Sacagawea” for flute, bass and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

“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.

Barnes 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 United States.

Barnes is currently collaborating with Glass on his Piano Quintet No. 1 “Annunciation,” based on the communion hymn for the Feast of Annunciation.

“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.

A video featuring Barnes performing Glass’ “Etude No. 8” from the “New Generations” album, click here.