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Santa Monica Celebrates Philip Glass

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By Jorge Casuso

January 30, 2023 -- Santa Monica will celebrate the distinctive music of American composer Philip Glass -- who half a century ago popularized Minimalism -- with two events marking his 86th birthday.

Presented by the Santa Monica Public Library’s Soundwaves new music series and Jacaranda music, the events explore different facets of a composer whose early hypnotic style was compared to a needle stuck in a record groove.

The first event will take place this Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at the Pico Annex in Virginia Avenue Park and features a live performance of Glass’ “Piece in the Shape of a Square” for two flutes.

Composed and first performed in 1968, the piece's musical score was tacked on a wall, prompting the two musicians to move throughout the performance.

The event also includes a screening of the short film “Mad Rush,” with a score composed by Glass and recorded by Jacaranda’s Music Director Mark Alan Hilt on organ.

There will also be a discussion with the performers led by Patrick Scott, Jacaranda's artistic and executive director.

The show serves as a preview of Jacaranda’s February 12 double feature, "which combines a selection of contemporary chamber music in the afternoon with an all-Glass concert at night," organizers said.

Glass, who along with Steve Reich developed the minimalist style first introduced by Terry Riley in his 1964 composition "In C," has composed for opera, film and dance.

He has also collaborated with pop stars, including Paul Simon and David Byrne, and used themes from the David Bowie/Brian Eno collaboration "Low" in a symphony.

Glass' operas, which have moved away from the propulsive minimalism of his landmark 1976 recording "Einstein on the Beach," have been produced by major opera houses worldwide.

For the last twenty years, Jacaranda Music has "presented imaginative classical music programs, played by top-caliber musicians, principally in Santa Monica. Details and tickets are available at

Soundwaves is a monthly performance series "focused on noncommercial music, drawing on Los Angeles’ long history of experimentation in rock, jazz, classical, and uncategorizable creative music.

Visit for more information, including videos of many past shows.

Editor's note: A previous version of this article stated that Philip Glass was turning 85 on January 31. He was turning 86.

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