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philip glass

Happy Birthday Philip Glass!

Imagine, if you will, a 46-year-old Ravi Shankar meeting at 29-year-old Philip Glass in Paris, 1966. Ravi was there recording his score to Conrad Rooks’ surreal, non linear, autobiographical film Chappaqua. Glass was there on a Fulbright scholarship studying under Nadia Boulanger.  Hired to transpose the Indian Classical compositions into Western Notation for the Chappaqua sessions, the two met. At the time, both men had a strong sense of who they were and where they wanted their music to go. Ravi wanted to bring the treasures of Indian Classical to the world through his massive dedication to touring and performance; he also wanted to explore how Western and Indian systems could meet in compositional experimentations.  Glass was deep in the experimental culture of the 1960s and armed with a fierce intellect that wanted to push and reorganize traditional understandings and structural elements of Western composition. Each found a kindred spirit in the other and the experience of meeting in 1966 cemented a lifelong friendship that would produce unique collaborations and performance for audiences around the world. Beyond their phenomenal performing abilities, their unwavering diligence to the discipline of composing, and their fearless approach to the possibilities of rhythm and melody (and yes, even harmonics sometimes), what the two artists share is a deep curiosity about music. On this, Philip’s 80th birthday, we at East Meets West Music celebrate not only the towering accomplishments of Philip’s long career, but the incredible wellspring of innovation and curiosity that marks his person and that long ago, in 1966, Ravi encountered and delighted in. Wherever Ravi is, he’s wishing Philip a happy birthday, from one Maestro to another.