Philip Glass

By John Von Rhein

The grand master of minimalism has come full circle.

The metaphor fits Philip Glass' present state as neatly as it does his swirling, rhythmically punchy, circling-back-on-itself music. That music, reams of it, has won him wide acceptance among the mainstream public and made Glass, who turned 79 on the last day of January, arguably the most successful, most widely performed and most imitated of living classical composers. He has bridged the worlds of high and low culture in ways few composers of any era have achieved.

Sixty years after the Baltimore-born Glass, then all of 19, graduated from the University of Chicago following math and philosophy studies, the famed composer and pianist is returning to his alma mater as a Uchicago Presidential Arts Fellow for a three-day residency, sponsored by the Logan Center for the Arts and the U. of C. Presents concert series.

The residency will include a screening Wednesday of Paul Schrader's 1985 film "Mishima" (with a score by Glass), followed by a Q&A with the composer; and a public conversation Thursday with university composition professor Augusta Read Thomas. It will culminate in a sold-out concert Friday night at Mandel Hall devoted to Glass' piano Etudes, performed by five pianists, including the composer. In addition to these public events, Glass will take part in a workshop for U. of C. composition students.

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