I started to compose Symphony No. 13 in the summer of 2020 in New York City. My life as a “symphonist” began 30 years ago in 1992 when, at the suggestion of conductor Dennis Russell Davies, I was commissioned to write my First Symphony. While I always thought of myself as a theater composer – which has the virtue of being true – it was Dennis that “didn’t want me to be one of those opera composers who never wrote a symphony.”
So while I have spent the majority of my creative life in theater in one form or another, through friendly coercion and also with great joy I have written a number of symphonies which were purely instrumental, as well as another group which included vocal materials or were based on outside material: poetry, wisdom traditions, and even popular music.
I first heard the National Arts Centre Orchestra live in 2016 at the Glenn Gould Prize concert when they performed my Symphony No. 8. I have had a home in Nova Scotia for over 50 years and come here every year. And a number of my pieces have premiered in Canada over the years. When invited by the NAC Orchestra to compose a new work, I began to think of a new full-scale instrumental symphony to be part of their program “Truth in Our Time.” The piece is part of the kind of music which I view to be a new body of work that started with Symphony No. 11 from five years ago. The journey continues to explore my own ideas about the language of music as it has evolved for me in the form of these symphonies.
What can a piece of music express about the idea of truth? When we consider a figure like Peter Jennings, a Canadian by birth, an immigrant, a journalist, an American by choice, rather than making a proclamation about “what is truth,” for the composer we are on much better ground when we talk about “This is the music that I listen to, this is the music that I like, and this is the music that I write.”
—Philip Glass, January 2022, New York City
Through his operas, his symphonies, his compositions for his own ensemble, and his wide-ranging collaborations with artists ranging from Twyla Tharp to Allen Ginsberg, Leonard Cohen to David Bowie, American composer Philip Glass has had an extraordinary and unprecedented impact upon the musical and intellectual life of his times. He is the first composer to win a wide, multi-generational audience in the opera house, the concert hall, the dance world, in film, and in popular music—simultaneously. Over the last 25 years, he has completed over 25 operas, 12 symphonies, 13 concertos, film soundtracks, nine string quartets, and a growing body of work for solo piano and organ.
Philip Glass’s Symphony No. 13 was commissioned for Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra by the Jennings family as a tribute to the late Toronto-born Canadian journalist Peter Jennings. A highly respected news anchor for ABC News, Jennings was also a trustee of Carnegie Hall during his years in New York City, the founding director of the American chapter of the Friends of the NAC Orchestra, and served as a lifelong champion of Canadian artists generally. The world premiere of the work was given by the NAC Orchestra in Toronto on March 30, 2022; tonight’s performance is the Symphony’s U.S. premiere.
Program notes by Dr. Hannah Chan-Hartley
Yosuke Kawasaki (concertmaster)
Jessica Linnebach (associate concertmaster)
Noémi Racine Gaudreault (assistant concertmaster)
Soo Gyeong Lee*
Mintje van Lier (principal)
Winston Webber (assistant principal)
Jethro Marks (principal)
David Marks (associate principal)
David Goldblatt (assistant principal)
Rachel Mercer (principal)
Julia MacLaine (assistant principal)
Max Cardilli (guest principal)*
Hilda Cowie (acting assistant principal)
Joanna G’froerer (principal)
Charles Hamann (principal)
Kimball Sykes (principal)
Christopher Millard (principal)
Lawrence Vine (principal)
Julie Fauteux (associate principal)
Karen Donnelly (principal)
Steven van Gulik
Donald Renshaw (principal)
Chris Lee (principal)
Feza Zweifel (principal)
ASSISTANT PERSONNEL MANAGER
Non-titled members of the Orchestra are listed alphabetically
SUPPORT FOR THE NAC ORCHESTRA
The Philip Glass Commission is made possible thanks to The Jennings Family. The National Arts Centre Foundation wishes to acknowledge and thank the donors who have made the 2022 NACO Tour possible: Adrian Burns, LL.D. & Gregory Kane, Q.C., Elinor Gill Ratcliffe, C.M., O.N.L., LLD (hc), Susan Glass, C.M. & Arni Thorsteinson, O.M., Ambassador Bruce Heyman and Vicki Heyman, John Roger McCaig, Michael F. B. Nesbitt, Gail O'Brien, LL.D. & David O'Brien, O.C., Janice O’Born, C.M., O.Ont and Earle O’Born, Dasha Shenkman, OBE, Hon RCM, R.N.C. Tennant, and The Hilary and Galen Weston Foundation.