Philip Glass's Latest (and Most Unusual) Collaboration

Q2 Music Album of the Week for August 19, 2013

Monday, August 19, 2013

No wonder Philip Glass has collaborated with musicians from every continent on Earth: the very seed of his famous musical style was an early gig assisting sitarist Ravi Shankar on a film soundtrack, when Shankar's explanation of Indian rhythmic structures inspired the arithmetical processes that govern the gradual unfolding of Glass's melodic patterns.

Almost half a century later, Glass has long realized that the features of this style are elementally simple enough to adapt to any number of non-European musics, from the kora to the didjeridoo, like a sort of ethnomusicological little black dress, wearable with anything, for any occasion.

The latest meeting between Philip Glass and musicians from outside the Western classical tradition to find a CD release is his "Concert of the Sixth Sun" with Daniel Medina de la Rosa and Roberto Carillo Cocío, a singer/violinist and a guitarist – respectively – from the Wixarika culture of Mexico, and the album is easily the most unusual collaboration in his long and prolific history of cross-cultural projects.

The Wixarika elements in the music have almost nothing in common with Glass's, other than a certain penchant for repetition. Their modes and harmonies are even more narrowly focused, and their guitar and fiddle make a far brighter, more piquant sound than their European counterparts. Glass's sparing contributions on piano often disappear into the background.

The "Sixth Sun" record is also far looser than his usual collaborations, as if his contributions were improvised rather than composed. Here he adds an unexpected minor chord, casting a subtle shadow over the bright vocal melody, and there he inserts a vamping figure between refrains, but this is not a Philip Glass show. It feels more like a jam session among a trio of musical friends, one of whom happens to live a long, long way to the north.

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Comments [3]

wout Koppers from Hungary

Glass, with Daniel Medina de la Rosa and Roberto Carillo Cocío, played this piece, after a few days of repetition at december 20th for an audience of 60 people. In the next two days the three of them worked in the studio for the recording of the Concert of the sixt sense. See "Words without Music" ed: 2015.

Jan. 20 2017 05:51 AM
Peter Bennett from Arizona

What is there to be said that remains unsaid? All that would seem unshared would be the emotions and feelings evoked by the audible experiences.

Sep. 11 2013 06:04 AM
Yvette Muise from Cheticamp

Sounds like culture exposing white soul

Aug. 19 2013 06:50 PM

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Q2 Music's Album of the Week is our weekly review of the newest and most dynamic contemporary classical releases. It focuses on musical discovery, world premiere recordings and fresh perspectives on today's classical landscape. Read our review and stream the album on-demand for one week only at


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