Reflections in the mind of Glass

Taos Chamber Music Group celebrates the work of an iconic American composer


Taos Chamber Music Group (TCMG) celebrates the 80th birthday of Philip Glass with a concert featuring his music. Glass turned 80 on Jan. 31. TCMG’s “Reflections” program includes Glass’ “Serenade” for solo flute, “Orbit” for solo cello and dancers, “Love Divided By” for flute and piano and the “Violin Sonata.” Mixed in are Nadia Boulanger’s “Vers la Vie Nouvelle” (”To the New Life”) for solo piano, W.A. Mozart’s “Piano Trio in C Major” and Franz Schubert’s “Piano Trio in Bb, D. 28.”

TCMG musicians who will perform are David Felberg on violin, James Holland on cello, TCMG Executive Director Nancy Laupheimer on flute and Debra Ayers on piano. Taos Youth Ballet students are also planning to dance a composition of their own to “Orbit.”

“Reflections” will be performed Friday and Saturday (Feb. 3-4) at 5:30 p.m.

Glass has composed operas, symphonies, chamber music and soundtracks for experimental theater and for films such as “The Hours,” “Kundun” and the iconic “Koyaanisqatsi.” He has collaborated with leading rock, pop and world music artists and is considered to be among the most influential composers of the late 20th century.

According to Laupheimer, who is also TCMG’s artistic and executive director, the most substantial of Glass’ work that will be on the “Reflections” program is his “Violin Sonata.” Laupheimer said she first heard this piece at a private home in Telluride, Colorado, in June of 2009. The piece was performed by violinist Maria Bachman and pianist Jon Klibonoff, following their premiere performance in Pennsylvania in February 2009. Glass attended the Telluride concert and Laupheimer met him there briefly.

Recalling the Telluride performance of Glass’ “Violin Sonata,” Laupheimer commented, “It was very exciting to hear one of the first performances by the artists for which it was written with Philip Glass in attendance. I think the piece really spans so many of the influences on Glass – from Bach to boogie woogie. It is also a very virtuoso, beautiful and exhilarating piece, which David Felberg will perform with his signature flair and passion.”

Laupheimer notes that Glass’ “Violin Sonata” references his early musical influences from when he worked in his father’s record store in Baltimore and listened to the 19th-century chamber music masterpieces, such as violin sonatas by Johannes Brahms, Gabriel Fauré and César Franck. It also is influenced by Mozart, Schubert, Baroque Chaconne, jazz and vaudeville.

For the concert, TCMG is partnering with Amber Vasquez, director of Taos Youth Ballet, to present an original dance to be performed to Glass’ “Orbit.” The dance was choreographed by Vasquez and will be performed by her advanced students: Mary Jensen, Jamie Jensen, Madeline Larsen, Romy Gates, Athena Dunleavy, Daisy Kirshbaum, Laryssa Short and Bodhi Fogden.

Vasquez said the dance “takes a literal meaning of ‘orbit’ as a pathway of activity around a central axis. The dancers respond to each other’s energy, moving as a group to create a large mass that rotates around itself and creates gravitational push and pull within itself.”

This is the third time that TCMG and Vasquez have partnered on a creative project.

Laupheimer was inspired to collaborate with Vasquez because the premiere of “Orbit,” performed by cellist Yo-Yo Ma, was accompanied by street dancer Lil Buck at Le Poisson Rouge in New York City in April 2013.

“It was an example of the kind of multidisciplinary artistic collaboration that I love to do with TCMG and also one that Glass was so seminal in creating,” said Laupheimer.

“The music brings out the plaintive quality of the cello as it slowly unfolds before turning back on itself, transforming and returning through Glass’ emblematic, cyclical patterns.”

Boulanger’s “Vers la Vie Nouvelle” (”To the New Life”) for solo piano was included in “Reflections” because Boulanger was one of Glass’ influential teachers. The piece was written in 1918 at the end of World War I and after the death of Boulanger’s sister, Lili, at the age of 25. The hopeful piece represents the promise of a new life after devastation.

Tickets are $25, $12 for students. Harwood Alliance members receive a 20 percent discount. Tickets can be purchased by calling (575) 758-9826 or by visiting A dinner discount is available to ticket holders after the performances for patrons of Doc Martin’s Restaurant at The Taos Inn, Martyrs Steakhouse, The Gorge Bar & Grill and Lambert’s.

The next TCMG concert takes place March 4-5 and includes music from Johannes Brahms, Leonard Bernstein, Charles Loeffler, Belinda Reynold, Missy Mazzoli and Maurice Durufle. It is titled “Middle Ground.” For more information, visit