Philip Glass's Music in Twelve Parts has never been performed live in SF, despite its iconic status as one of the milestones of contemporary music. We find it strange, considering the embracing welcome of Glass's latest performances here. Then again, it's four hours of music which is built on repeating some very primitive motives over long periods of time: it's rewarding if you go through, but pretty challenging nonetheless. We chatted with vocalist, composer and SF-native Lisa Bielawa, who has been part of the Philip Glass Ensemble for seventeen years, who recorded this piece shortly thereafter, and who will be part of the first performance ever on the West Coast this Monday.
SF Performances is hosting the piece at Davies Symphony Hall, at 5pm, with two intermissions and a dinner break, thank goodness. Pace your psychotropics accordingly. Singing for Philip Glass has trained Bielawa in making long sentences without breathing in! She's so fast, with a sharp mind, so you get a marathon interview below. Then again, that's the appropriate kind for a Music in Twelve Parts performance. We asked: what makes the piece such a milestone in contemporary music?