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October 31, 2001 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2001-10-31

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Los Gatos...
A costume party and great
jazz can be enjoyed at the
Bird of Paradise. Prizes and
Latin jazz. 9 p.m. $5.
michigandaily.com /arts


OCTOBER 31, 2001



Glass brings ensemble for Halloween

By Jim Schiff
Daily Fine/Performing Arts Editor
You know you're listening to a
truly great film score when it can
stand alone.
Few composers
are able to cap-
ture the emo-
Philip Glass tion onscreen
Ensemble in a way that
Michigan Theater makes you
remember the
Todaythrough music as dis-
Saturday tinctly as the
Philip Glass
is one of those
tonight and
running through Seturday, the
Philip Glass ensemble will deliver

spooks, chills and shocks in four
live concert screenings. Drawing
from music Glass composed over
the past 25 years, the ensemble will
perform to director Tod Browning's
version of "Draoula," a series of
acclaimed short films and Geoffrey
Reggio's cult favorite "Koy-
aanisqatsi." Each movie brings out
a different aspect of Glass's work,
whether it be his untraditional har-
monies or irregular, shifting
A Baltimore native, Glass intro-
duced himself to music in his
father's radio shop. Beginning his
.classical training on flute, but soon
tired of its limited repertoire, Glass
decided to instead pursue a liberal
arts degree at the University of
Chicago. Even after attending Jul-
Hard four years later, he still
yearned for something more excit-

ing to develop his creative mind.
After moving to Paris, he gained an
interest in both world cinema and
music from working with a French
filmmaker. His travels in Africa,
Nepal and India inspired Glass to
develop a new direction in music.
Glass's musical interpretations
came to be known as "minimalist."
This type of music is characterized
by a small number of musical
themes and repetitive, hypnotic
beats. But according to ensemble
member John Gibson, the term
"minimalist" should no longer be
applied to Glass's scores. "Mini-
malism is not relevant to Philip at
this point," he said. "He's writing
all sorts of music. There are still
elements of minimalism in his
music now, but its expanded a great
deal in terms of orchestration and
use of thematic material."
An accomplished composer in his
own right, Gibson has been per-
forming with Glass since 1968.
After working with the filmmaker,
Gibson says, Glass vwill bring the
score to his ensemble for a week of
intense editing, tweaking and prac-
Gibson commented that he enjoys
this interactive process because of
the high caliber talent involved.
"The ensemble is very well orga-
nized - they are super musicians
and the music plays very well," he
said. "The performing standards are
extremely high."
Over the years Glass and the
Philip Glass ensemble have earned

the praise of their peers and presti-
gious award-voterszalike. Glass won
a Cannes jury prize for his score to
"Mishima," a Golden Globe for his
score to "The Truman Show" and
an Academy Award nomination for
"Kundun." Two years ago he
became the first composer to be
honored with the Medallion award
from the Telluride Film Festival.
Currently he is collaborating with
director Godfrey Reggio on the
score to "Nagoyqatsi: Life in War."
Opening up with "Dracula" on
Halloween night, the ensemble will
then perform to a series of short
films featuring some of today's
most innovative filmmakers.
Unlike most film scores which
are composed after the movie is
created, Glass instead invited the
directors to create films based on
his music. The films featured in
Thursday's performance include
Atom Egoyan's "Diaspora," Peter
Greenaway's "The Man in the
Bath," Shifin Neshat's "Passage,"
Michal Rovner's "Notes" and two
older films by Godfrey Reggio.
Seeing these films with live
music by Philip Glass is probably a
new experience for most, says Gib-
son. "It's more immediate - I
think the sound quality is better and
the aspect of it being live gives it a
uniqueness that you wouldn't get
with just watching the film with the
regular soundtrack," he said. "It's a
unique experience and it should be

Courtesy of WEA/Altantic
Technology and urban life collide in Reggio's "Koyaanisqatsi."
blends music, film

By Jim Schiff
Daily Fine/Performing Arts Editor
Fusing dramatic imagery and a
powerful soundtrack, Geoffrey Reg-
gio's "Koyaanisqatsi" has set the

Michigan Theater
Friday and
Saturday at 8 p.m.

standard of
between music
and film.
Taken from
the Hopi lan-
guage, "Koy-
a a n i s q a t si"
indicates a
"crazy life" or
"life out of bal-
ance." Since its
release in 1983,
this 85-minute
film has gained
a cult following

Glass wonders if the music may be upside-down.

Glass's score adds new dimension
to Browing's 1931 classic 'Dracula'

By Lyle Henretty
Daily Arts Editor
The billowing cape of Bela Lugosi's suave

Count Dracula is
Michigan Theater
Tonight at 8 p.m.

as much a part of American
iconography as mom and
apple pie, yet few have seen
the film in its skewed, blood-
as-sex-drenched glory. Both
horror and film buffs tend.to
pass it over for Frank Whale's
flashier "Frankenstein," but
the whole feel of Universal's
classic monster movies came
from Tod Browning's slick
classic, 1931's "Dracula."
Both the uninitiated and
legions of the Count's "chil-
dren of the night" will be able
to see the film as never
before, accompanied live

rary audiences to re-interpret classic films while
still enjoying the original product in its entirety.
"I wanted to embrace the cinematic style of this
early 'Dracula,"' Glass said of the film, which
lacked a musical score when it was originally
released. "Without a living director, there is no
one who can, claim to have an authentic interpreta-
tion of the film, so while there are clues in the film
as to what we should be feeling, it has been a
question of what I bring to it."
Original director Browning, who died in 1962,
relied on Lugosi, or more specifically the actor's
famous Hungarian accent to aurally carry the
movie. While the original intention of the film
died with the director, it seems that Browning
wished the audience would concentrate more on
action and dialogue than music. The effect is quite
the opposite on a modern audience so attuned to
musical scores accompanying important scenes.
Browning's oppressive shadows and brooding
set pieces can still frighten, the original sound-
track has a shallow, metallic feel for the modern
audience. Glass's new score enhances the direc-
tor's vision. The score is sweeping yet non-intru-

sive, allowing the viewer to be caught up in the
film's momentum.
Unlike many of Universal's classic horror films,
"Dracula" is remarkably relevant 70 years after its
release. The sexual themes that have become com-
mon practice in vampire films began with Lugosi's
Count and his obscene passion for blood. Lugosi
did not merely need blood, but he enjoyed acquir-
ing it. The closeness to his victim, the intimacy of
biting their necks, the sexual charge of transform-
ing them from a person into a beast that acts solely
on instinct for survival gave the Count a hypnotic
power over the audience. Glass has taken this par-
adigm vampire film and made it a more complete
experience by engaging all of the viewer's senses.
"Dracula," being presented specifically for Hal-
loween, kicks off the "Philip on Film" program,
which runs through Saturday. The festival cele-
brates 25 years of Glass contributing to film and
includes showings of cult classic "Koyanningatsi,"
Jean Cocteau's "La Belle et la Bete," and a collec-
tion of shorts by contemporary filmmakers such as
Atom Egoyan and Peter Greenway. Tickets may be
purchased at the league ticket office.

through its numerous live perfor-
mances at arts festivals and per-
forming arts centers around the
world. Composer Philip Glass, who
worked with Reggio on the film's
music, has said that "Koyaanisqatsi"
is "a collaboration of film and
music that is unprecedented in its
Inspiration for "Koyaanisqatsi"
and the other films in the "qatsi"
trilogy take root in Reggio's intrigu-
ing past. Born in New Orleans, he
entered the Roman Catholic order
of the Christian Brothers at the age
of 14. His experiences there encour-
aged him to get involved with urban
youth and teaching.
In the 1960s he taught grade
school, secondary school and col-
lege in New Mexico and in 1963, he
co-founded the Young Citizens for
Action, a community organization
project that aided street gangs. It
was in Mexico City, however, that
Reggio first became interested in
film. "I was moved by the effect
that film had on me and other peo-
ple," he said. "It moved me to pur-
sue film myself."
Each film in the "qatsi" series
explores a different theme that con-

nects with one another to suggest a
broader theme of "globalization."
"Koyaaniqatsi," featured in Ann
Arbor this weekend, focuses on the
collision between technology and
urban life in the Northern hemi-
sphere. Reggio describes the natural
environment in this film to be auto-
mobile traffic, rather than what the
audience would consider to be
The second film, "Powaqqatsi,"
focuses on the Southern hemi-
sphere. There, Reggio says, the
handmade cultures are being taken
over by industrialization in the
North. Finally, "Naquoyqatsi,"
which is still in development, ties
the first two films together. "It envi-
sions a horizonless world ... a
world which is held together by
diversity," said Reggio.
Aside from broad themes of
mechanization, urbanization and
technology, each film also contains
no language, plot or actors. Accord-
ing to Reggio, this technique gives
the films the character of a non-tra-
ditional documentary. Instead of
putting an emphasis on dialogue or
words, the films in the "qatsi" trilo-
gy use images to reveal words. "It's
like using the:old saying that a-pie-
ture speaks a thousand words," Reg-
gio said. "Now a thousand pictures
speak one word."
Reggio also likens the experience
of his films to an IMAX film. He
says you can walk into it at any time
and feel absorbed by the imagery.
"The screen is psychologically
much bigger than its actual size," he
As the heart of Reggio's films is
Philip Glass's music, which has
become part and parcel of the entire
viewing experience. Without words,
the music comes to the foreground
of the film and becomes part of the
action. "The music to 'Koyaaniqat-
si' is quite beautiful," said John
Gibson, one of the Philip Glass
ensemble members. "It does a very
good job in presenting this work."

tonight by Philip Glass and the Phillip Glass
ensemble at the Michigan Theater.
Martin Scorcese has called Glass "an artist of
tremendous sensitivity whose music works from
the inside of the film, from its heart." The com-
poser has been working since the 1980s in collab-
oration with music director Michael Riesman,
sound designer Kurt Munkacel and his own
ensemble to create live music to accompany films
in a theater setting. Glass takes great pride in
"combining a mechanically reproduced work,
which is frozen in time, with live performance,
which is not bound to time gives a special quality
of interpretation that is unique." This live ensem-
ble creates an immediacy for the audience not pre-
sent in a completed film merely being projected
onto a screen.
Minimalist composer Glass, a film fan and
Golden Globe winner-for "The Truman Show,"
was first asked by Universal Family and Home
Entertainment to pen a new score for the film in
1998 for the world-renowned Kronos Quartet. The
Quartet, who recently appeared on the "Requiem
for a Dream" soundtrack, played the original score
on the 1998 re-release of "Dracula," before Glass
arranged the score for his own ensemble. Glass's
music is wholly modern, yet the dichotomy of
modern music and older films allows contempo-
Local band"

1 -- ----

Courtesey of UMS
Lugosi, star of "Plan Nine From Outer Space," was also in some vampire movie.
plays Espresso Royale

By Elon Lang
For the Daily
A year ago, while stressed-out

from studying,
Love Lies
Espresso Rovale

I wandered into
E s p r e s s o
Royale. A local
band had just
started playing
at the back of
the shop. I was
too busy and

slipshod group thrown together for
an open mic night, these were a
bunch of well-practiced, talented
and innovative musicians.
Their skill as songwriters was
evident in the complex yet accessi-
ble structure of their tunes. They
soared out of instrumental intros
into verses and choruses of refresh-
ing chord progressions, tempo
changes and dynamics that support-
ed the imagery and emotion of their

well as more modern influences
like The Indigo Girls. But what
they have is unique. Their melodies
are intoxicating - you find your-
self humming them sometimes two
or three days after attending a con-
And the members of the group
are completely unassuming. One
can see wonder in their eyes as they
smile through each performance,'
humbled by the music that their

mentation, polished the rough-
edges of their performance and
developed their sound into a mature
harmony that strongly deserves
radio time alongside the top inde-
pendent and pop-rock groups on the
air today. They have spent the last
nine months in the studio putting
together their first full-length
album, titled Phoenix. It includes
songs that they have regularly per-
formed, like the contemplative


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