Listen: Boston Musicians Join for Sold-Out 'Orchestral Tribute to David Bowie'

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Friday, January 29, 2016

Philip Glass, Twyla Tharp and David Bowie Philip Glass, Twyla Tharp and David Bowie ((Carol Rosegg, courtesy of Twyla Tharp))

Friday, Jan. 29 at 7 pm, Q2 Music presented MIT Music and Theater Art's "Orchestral Tribute to David Bowie" with a live webcast from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's prestigious Kresge Auditorium. The event paid tribute to the iconic and iconoclastic musician who died of cancer on Sunday, January 10 at the age of 69, shortly after the release of his farewell album "Blackstar."   

Composer and MIT professor Evan Ziporyn led an all-volunteer orchestra comprised of area professionals and members of the MIT community in a sold-out performance of Philip Glass's Symphony No. 1, "Low" and Symphony No. 4, "Heroes" – works inspired by the ground-breaking albums by David Bowie and Brian Eno of the '70s. There was also a special orchestral arrangement of Bowie's "Let’s Dance" that closed the show. 

Ziporyn, who organized the event, says: "This is a way for the musical community of Boston to channel our grief and express our gratitude to Bowie in a positive way. The generosity of these top-notch musicians has been incredible, putting their time and talent toward this project on extremely short notice. It took less than a day to put an entire orchestra together, and that’s a real testament, both to Bowie’s impact and to the spirit of our community."

Glass writes of the symphonies' composition: "My approach was to treat the [Bowie and Eno] themes very much as if they were my own and allow their transformations to follow my own compositional bent when possible. In practice, however, Bowie and Eno’s music certainly influenced how I worked, leading me to sometimes surprising music conclusions. In the end I think I arrived at something of a real collaboration between my music and theirs."


Philip Glass: Symphony No. 1, "Low"
Philip Glass: Symphony No. 4, "Heroes"
David Bowie: "Let's Dance" (arr. Evan Ziporyn)

All proceeds from the event go the Frontier Research Fund for cancer research at MIT. This event was co-produced by MIT Music and Theater Arts and Richard Guérin with Orange Mountain Music. 

Comments [16]

Maria from Montreal

Stunning and brilliant, thank you for posting this online. A wonderful and worthy tribute to an iconoclastic contemporary artist whose influence and impact on the cultural arts remains unparalelled. David Bowie's pioneering spirit transcended every creative and conceptual boundary and created a cultural paradigm shift in the collective public sphere as no other interdisciplinary artist in the late 20th century.Infinite thanks to all responsible for this astonishing tribute, and especially to Philip Glass, one of the remaining intellectually vibrant,creative vanguards of public prominence left on this planet.

Feb. 05 2016 05:30 PM
shirley lewington from NANAIMO. BRITISH COLUMBIA

Loved the whole thing and forwarded IT to my Australian family.
congratulations to the orchestra and the MIT family.

Feb. 05 2016 01:52 PM
Lisa Ryan

How can I purchase this?

Feb. 03 2016 12:42 AM

I grew up on Bowie, including Low and Glass, moving performance, that Let's Dance ending hit a sweet spot. I love the applause and whistling. Thank You MIT and Q2.

Feb. 02 2016 11:51 AM
Andrea Sorrenti from Roma

Podcast? please!!!!

Jan. 31 2016 06:58 AM
Q2 Music

AB, we'll have it on this page in the next day!

Jan. 30 2016 02:27 PM
AB from MA

At the end of the performance, the DJ / radio host said that it should be available in the archives in the next couple of days. I don't know where that would be on this site, though.

Jan. 30 2016 01:07 PM
DaveJ from Boston

Was at this marvelous show last night. Evan Ziporyn and gang of volunteers put together a spectacular tribute. The impromptu "Let's Dance" was the icing on the cake. I only wish it kept going and turned into a dance party.

Thanks for broadcasting. Big question: Will you be preserving a recording and sharing a podcast?

Jan. 30 2016 11:46 AM
Jane from Scarborough, NY

I missed it..damn! Is it possible to hear it again, any device and/or get a copy of the program?

Jan. 30 2016 11:07 AM
J. Crocker from Harwich_Ma.

I was at the show last was over the top wonderful. Anyone know how one can get a copy of it???..I need to listen to this time and again...please let me

Jan. 30 2016 08:59 AM
Mia from São Paulo

Thank you, thank you! It was a beautiful work, just perfect.

Jan. 29 2016 09:34 PM
JH from cambridge

definitely. love it. hope to pass it around.

Jan. 29 2016 09:06 PM
Spike from St. Louis

Wow! And this production was put together in just a couple of weeks?! Beautiful. David would be proud. Keep up the link so I can send to others. JM

Jan. 29 2016 09:00 PM
Mary Meyer

Truly captivating music. Brilliantly performed.


Jan. 29 2016 08:58 PM
Martha Fischler from Ft Lauderdale


Jan. 29 2016 07:51 PM
MPetrelis from San Francisco

Damn, this is mighty fine ear candy. Keeping my fingers crossed the performance from Boston is archived for future listening!

Jan. 29 2016 07:32 PM

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