HOUSE OF GLASS: Philip Glass plays the piano for the Toronto performance of his collaboration with Leonard Cohen, 'Book of Longing.'
By Michael S. Gant
Philip Glass/Leonard Cohen This, his 70th year, is proving especially fruitful for American minimalist master Philip Glass. His new full-scale opera, Appomattox, premieres this week at the San Francisco Opera. And on Tuesday, Stanford Lively Arts inaugurates its season with a co-commissioned work that brings together Glass with Canadian poet and minister of melancholy Leonard Cohen (Bird on the Wire, Suzanne) for Book of Longing, a musical setting of Glass' poetry. Over a continuous surge of Glass' music, four vocalists perform Cohen's lyrics—in addition, Cohen reads some of his verse on a recorded soundtrack. For this performance, Glass himself will appear on keyboards. The snippet I heard featured Cohen intoning in hypnotic low-register his sometimes despairing words ("The day wouldn't write what the night penciled in"; "I'm not allowed a trace of regret"). The result was a lot like Joe Frank's late-night radio monologues, with the voice exerting an impelling pull into a personal vortex. Tuesday (Oct. 9) at 8pm; Memorial Auditorium, Stanford; $19–$70; 650.725.ARTS.
South Bay Guitar Society Guest artist XueFei Yang of China is a trailblazer, having the honor of being the first guitarist to graduate from Beijing's Central Conservatory of Music. That first led him to the West to continue his education in the ways of the classical guitar, including a stint at London's Royal Academy of Music. For this concert, Yang will perform numbers from the Spanish repertoire as well as versions of Chinese tunes reworked for the classical guitar. In related events, Yang will perform on Friday at 5pm on KKUP-FM (91.5) and offer master classes on Sunday. Saturday (Oct. 6) at 8pm; Le Petit Trianon, 72 N. First St., San Jose; $15–$25; 408.292.0704.
Melody of China Concerts in San Jose and Mountain View. The concerts showcase Chinese composers Gang Situ and Yuanlin Chen. In a piece for two string quartets, Situ manages to pull together ideas about Western classical guitars and Chinese plucked strings. Chen is most famous for his electronic music for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Thursday (Oct. 4) at 7:30pm; Le Petit Trianon, 72 N. First St., San Jose. Friday (Oct. 5) at 7:30pm at Community School of Music and Arts, 230 San Antonio Circle, Mountain View; $10/$18; 415.681.8599.
San Francisco Symphony The symphony starts its local satellite season with a free outdoor show in downtown San Jose. Resident conductor Benjamin Schwartz will lead a program that embraces Copland (Fanfare for the Common Man), John Adams (Short Ride in a Fast Machine), Gershwin (Cuban Overture) and Prokofiev (Suite from Romeo and Juliet). The regular season takes place at Cupertino's Flint Center with a dozen concerts. Friday (Oct. 5) at noon; Plaza de Cesar Chavez, Market and San Carlos streets, San Jose; free.
New Music Works The works of contemporary composers Aaron Jay Kernis and Terry Riley are featured, with Kernis himself on the piano and the Ariose Singers. Saturday (Oct. 6) at 8pm; UCSC Music Center Recital Hall; $10–$18; 408.421.9200.
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