In June, the National Endowment for the Arts announced Philip Glass as a recipient of the 2010 NEA Opera Honors which includes a cash prize of $25,000 and is the highest award the United States bestows in opera based on significant lifetime contributions.
Photo credit ©Timothy Greenfield-Sanders
The NEA announcement states that “Glass has had an unprecedented impact upon the musical and intellectual life of our time…” He has written twenty-eight operatic and experimental music theater works, beginning with the seminal Einstein on the Beach, and spanning to his most recent portrait opera, Kepler, based on the life of the German mathematician, astronomer, and astrologer Johannes Kepler. That work was commissioned by the Upper Austrian State Theatre in Linz, the city where Kepler did some of his most important work. The piece premiered fully-staged in Linz in September of last year, and received its US premiere in a concert version at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in November as part of the Bruckner Orchestra’s U.S. tour. Mark Swed of the Los Angeles Times wrote, “In Kepler, Glass’ yin-yang style gains new advances. More than ever before, the same kind of music can express going somewhere or nowhere, a physical or spiritual state, a secular and sacred condition.” Other key operas include Satyagraha (1980), Akhnaten (1983) and the CIVIL warS (1984), part of director Robert Wilson's multi-composer epic for the Olympic Games of 1984 commissioned by the Opera di Roma.