Music: Music in 12 Parts

I am not quite sure what I was thinking when back in February I booked tickets to see Music in 12 Parts. Maybe it was the opportunity to see Philip Glass. Maybe it was the opportunity to hear a lot of his music (well at least during his minimalist phase). Whatever the reason, I wasn't prepared for four hours of music plus an hour and a half of breaks when I arrived at the Barbican Sunday. The piece is all about recurring musical structures that grow and change. I was entering the world of musical minimalism and wondering if I would ever escape. It didn't help either that I was surrounded by people with thick rimmed glasses and black turtlenecks. Is this a minimalist thing I wondered? I was glad that I wore a black shirt so I didn't stand out too much...

As for the music, well listening to the minimalist music has a way of creeping up on you and becoming a bit hypnotic. By the first hour I was into it. Suddenly things like gestures by the ensemble members to the onstage mixer became the performance. I found myself counting bleeps and shrieks. I started watching the audience for movement. I started thinking about what I was going to do during the dinner break. Then all of a sudden the music changed. The Guardian described the change as a tidal wave at sea, but for me it was like "Jeeeezuz you scare the shit out of me"...

The performance was broken up into four parts and by the final part most of the audience was still there. It was a hardcore group of Glass devotees. It was late. We had been sitting in the Barbican for way longer than anyone ever should. But we were still there. And you had to kind of admire the ensemble for being there too. It was a marathon for everyone but the end probably justified the means. By the time the performance concluded standing ovations ensued. You probably don't get the chance to see something like Music In 12 Parts performed every day so it was worth the sacrifice...

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