Symphony No. 8

I’ve had a few life-changing epiphanies over the years with the music of Philip Glass. The first was my introduction to Glass—North Star and then Einstein in quick succession—and I had a second, more profound one (since it literally refocused my own compositional energies) when I heard Satyagraha. I’ve remained a fan all these years, but the last “Wow-I’m-totally-blown-away” moment for me was when I heard the Nonesuch recording of his Symphony No. 2 nearly a decade ago. I just couldn’t get over the bitonality and the way his instantly recognizable compositional voice could be used in such a maximalist context. It was in my Walkman for weeks. Glass’s new eighth symphony, his first symphony in the traditional sense since that piece (Symphonies 3 through 7 were either only for strings [3], based on music by David Bowie [4], or also incorporated voices [5,6,7]), is the follow-up I’ve been waiting for ever since.