Monday, October 26, 2009

Glass on the Ceiling

You know how you think you don’t like something just because you think you don’t like it? I felt that way about mausoleums, and I felt that way about the music of Philip Glass.

I must have heard his music years ago, ages and ages ago, and filed him away in that part of the brain labeled, No Way, Never Again, Uh-uh. Either I’ve changed or Glass has. The music I heard yesterday was lovely and romantic, but with quick turns and sharp edges. Romance by itself is boring, and sharp edges alone, annoying. But together, I’ll follow wherever they lead.

And the mausoleum? That’s where the concert was held. A string quartet.

I like the dead, they know how to focus, and they know how to listen. From time to time I visit them in the open air, where they have a room with a view. Plenty of fresh air and sunshine, that’s the ticket. But I’ve changed my mind. Nothing wrong with the mansion house; it can be just as sweetly haunting. During the concert, we weren’t chained to our chairs, so I explored -- walked down long halls, up stairs, turned left, turned right, got lost following stained glass windows and walls of dead people, followed in turn by music that bounced off ceilings and echoed off tombs.

Here's a piece of Glass

(If the link doesn't work, copy and paste this


  1. If you have a piece of Glass that doesn't make me want to put my foot through my computer monitor, I want to hear it and I will in just a few. My fav line was the dead:"Know how to focus, know how to listen"! You kill me KB! (Get it???) I'm thinking being chained to your chairs might have been fitting for a mausoleum. What great shots. Oh , I"m sending Bob Crowe over here. I heard my first, and last Glass from him. My teeth are still clenched. I have heard via the grapevine from a muscian friend that ole Phillip has changed his style many many times over the years. Maybe you've found something I can listen to for more that 30 seconds. I 'm openminded, just like you!!!

  2. Virg, can't wait to hear what you think of him...

  3. I had the same reaction to the mausoleum and now must revise my will because I want to spend the rest of my (non-living) life there.

    And I liked what you said about music - "Romance by itself is boring." That explains my reaction at a recent benefit concert I attended. The star was the singing voice of Disney's Mulan and Princess Jasmine. Her voice was remarkable and flawless and sweet. And I was bored to tears.

    I once sat through a Glass opera in Prague, but I wouldn't do it again.

  4. Years ago I came to exactly the same opinion of Glass. But I haven't become more enlightened in the intervening years. Not just about Glass, I haven't become more enlightened period.

    The link didn't work and I was unable to copy and paste the URL. I took this as a sign that I'm not supposed to listen to Philp Glass.

    Being around the dead doesn't bother me much. It's the living that give me grief.

    WV: codas (as in Glass's music has far too many of them (or is it too few?)

  5. Was that camerata pacifica?
    Sorry, but I love the guy. I have driven my kids batty with the soundtrack from The Hours

  6. thought at 1st it was the Chamber music at historic places series - but no, you stumped me with this one. Looks like a cool space ... :)
    The only Glass piece I know is from Koyannisquatsi - which was so interesting in my '20s and got very annoying as I got older. I listened to this one & you are right, it's pretty good. Nice touch with the marker photo...
    Are you going to the Talich Qrt at the Pas Civic Auditorium (Gold Room) on Nov 8th? 2 Beethoven qrts - not the easiest pieces to listen to.

  7. Are you claiming there were others who also climbed up into the rafters, Miss Hiker?

    Seriously, thanks for broadening my horizons. I like the piece you posted OK, but listened to two others on YouTube, and no thanks.

    Love your line about the dead, esp. the notion that they know how to focus . . .

  8. Is this the old HOllywood Memorial cemetery? I forget the hipster name it now has. I love the mausoleum there and once shot a 16mm short film there.

    I still don't care for Philip Glass. I'm scared to check out your new link because his old stuff is fingernails-on-blackboard for me.

  9. Okay, I heard a little bit off the link. It reminds me of a film score for an Adrien Lyne film. I don't HATE it, but I'm not a convert yet.

  10. It's nothing new that people do weird things to be cool, such as hold an event in a mausoleum next to crypts holding the remains of loved ones. Unfortunately, no one mentions how family members of the interred might feel about this. If it were me, I would feel that my deceased family member was not being respected or allowed to rest in peace. Why no mention of this?

  11. I erroneously hit the Glass link while I had John Lee Hooker's "More Real Folk Blues" album on. Simutaneously, My wife came in and narrated a story of a booster we know stuck in a Missouri jail having his apartment robbed of everything but his undies by his ex brother-in-law, now in hiding. The crescendo came at "Mustang Sally Got a Brand New GTO".
    The things I do for art...

  12. Read Wayne's comment on the WV: codas. Good one, Wayne. Mine had 'ma', in it:

    The Taoist philosopher Lao Tse wrote extensively on the concept of Ma including his poem The Uses of Not :

    Thirty spokes meet in the hub,
    but the empty space between them
    is the essence of the wheel.
    Pots are formed from clay,
    but the empty space between it
    is the essence of the pot.
    Walls with windows and doors form the house,
    but the empty space within it
    is the essence of the house.

    A good taiko drummer uses the silence between the notes. Haven't heard a good taiko solo in a long time.

  13. Anonymous raises an interesting point, but I would say my philosophy is different. My parent have now died, they weren't young, but neither were they old. And they're in a cemetary far away from me. I'd like to think strangers visit that cemetary and wonder about the two of them. I'd also like to think folks spread out a blanket, have a picnic, laugh and talk close to where they lay. My parents would like the company. I like to think the dead are with us.

    On to the other topic, Philip Glass. Even Wayne came back with an email that Glass was perhaps better than he remembered. Try the whole piece Laurie.

  14. Bandit, that's lovely. And Banjo, ever the interesting fellow.

  15. Ok, Miss Openminded and Flexible listened to the whoooolllle thing. I'll admit once I started reading blogs and used it as background music I liked it better. My verdict was much like Laurie's. I didn't love it and certainly didn't hate it. I will say I thought it well suited for a concert at a mausoleum. I'm with Anonymous, maybe a bit of an intrusion which is how I feel when I photograph cemeteries in Paris. Not real comfortable with photographing the headstones of someone's dear family member somehow.

    thanks KB for pushing me to expand my musical horizons which are not all that broad.

  16. I like the piece you linked to. Haven't listened to the others. Is this the mausoleum in Altadena? That's my guess. I'd have loved to have been there for this.

    Anonymous, it's a tough question. Do people sign a release when their loved ones are interred? Surely a graveyard is public land, and though societal rules dictate that I show respect, I can have a picnic there like Karin mentions.

    If I'm lucky enough to have my remains in a lovely place like this one, I hope there will be concerts of all sorts. If my family members were there I would hope the same for them. But I don't expect others to feel the same as I do.

    At Oxford, as in many parts of England, the dead are buried in the church walls and floors. We have a wonderful choral recording of The Tallis Scholars done at Merton College Chapel, where I once had the pleasure of spending many peaceful minutes among the dead.

  17. who is L. Viola Sands?

    Mr V's parents are in that mausoleum. They were atheist so I doubt they're giving this a second thought.

    If you have problems with Glass you might want to avoid David Ocker's work (although he gives you access to free downloads).

    scroll down to Schoenburg in Hell. David's wife says I'm one of four fans of his blog. He rarely comments on mine but occasionally peppers me with meme requests.

  18. I'm glad Desiree reminded me that the soundtrack from The Hours is Glass. I LOVE that.

  19. Tash, I knew you were musically informed but now I'm really impressed.

    There are some PG riffs that I'm familiar with, and like, but I'm too hyper to sit through concerts unless there's some way for me to interact like screaming, clapping, yodeling, etc. I once went to a concert at the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion that was very Phillip Glassish and went to sleep. The stroll through the mausoleum sounded like the best part.

    As for your new piece, it has several smart lines, as in, "I like the dead, they know how to focus, and they know how to listen.". And we all read it hear first, any copyright infringements, we're your homies.

  20. Bandit, we have a Japan Festival every spring with Taiko performers. That is one kind of music I'm happy to sit still and listen to.


    Some people need rehab after they spend all their money gambling in Biloxi.

  21. Phil Glass is not exactly accessible, or pop, muzic.

    So, I have to think you changed from the years or decades ago you 1st heard his stuff. I can just imagine what you said back then: "WTF is that? Music?? - no way!! Well, maybe for old, dead people, but not for this full of life hot young thing!"

  22. The quartet: Two violins, one cello, one viola. I only took one photo of an incription, and I didn't even realize until after I posted, her name was Viola. True story.

  23. CP.
    I'm still mumbling, wtf is that.

    WV: phockrys. It made me laugh. It's late. Bonne nuit

  24. Sorry, South of France Virg, wtf did you say? Your mumbling and I can't understand U! But, let's just say for your porpoises, it means "macaron."

  25. I really like his Metamorphosis series...despite what anyone else says.

  26. Oh, it's been a while since I've listened to Glass. Some I like, some not so much ~ but I can say that of many composers I've listened to, I guess. You really come up with some wondrous turns of phrase, Hiker.

  27. How beautiful. I'll bet the acoustics in that building were outstanding and the music would, indeed, be incredibly haunting in that setting. I think it's wonderfully creative thinking by the organizers of that little concert.

  28. I would have to be in a not easily irritated mood to listen to music by Glass. But if I was and did I might be irritated after. I do every thing I can to avoid discomfort. My Glass shall remain empty.

    Once again nice read.

  29. Me too Carolynn, and you're right, the acoustics were fantastic.

    Shell, yes there appears to be a lot of love/hate for Glass around here.

    Banjo, WV is word verification. Don't you ever notice some mighty strange ones?

  30. surely you jest!! But thanks....

  31. CP,
    WTF means Where's the Frenchwine doesn't it?????

  32. I'll pardon your French, Virg. You're French is getting better, and I think the mumbling helps with achieving the French accent.
    Butt, WTF means, in French, "Where's The Frenchwomen!?"

    I enjoyed this French posting by KB.

  33. CP.
    BUTT? Pardon! I'm working on that you know. Give me a few more months and I'll be as svelte as those French women who don't get fat! And BTW, my French drawl is as awful as it always was, but sip enough Frenchwine and it's hardly noticeble.

    Pass the macarons s'il vous plait!

    Bonne nuit mon chien and the rest of you!

  34. Sleep tight.

    The 300 pound dog I found this afternoon in the windstorm is now back home with his family. Much to the relief of us and him.

    WV: Voyagy. He had a bit of one.