In the Penal Colony
Composer: Philip Glass
Composer Bio: 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, Woody Allen to David Bowie, Philip Glass has had an extraordinary and unprecedented impact upon the musical and intellectual life of his times. The operas – “Einstein on the Beach,” “Satyagraha,” “Akhnaten,” and “The Voyage,” among many others – play throughout the world’s leading houses, and rarely to an empty seat. Glass has written music for experimental theater and for Academy Award-winning motion pictures such as “The Hours” and Martin Scorsese’s “Kundun,” while “Koyaanisqatsi,” his initial filmic landscape with Godfrey Reggio and the Philip Glass Ensemble, may be the most radical and influential mating of sound and vision since “Fantasia.” His associations, personal and professional, with leading rock, pop and world music artists date back to the 1960s, including the beginning of his collaborative relationship with artist Robert Wilson. Indeed, Glass 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. He was born in 1937 and grew up in Baltimore. He studied at the University of Chicago, the Juilliard School and in Aspen with Darius Milhaud. Finding himself dissatisfied with much of what then passed for modern music, he moved to Europe, where he studied with the legendary pedagogue Nadia Boulanger (who also taught Aaron Copland , Virgil Thomson and Quincy Jones) and worked closely with the sitar virtuoso and composer Ravi Shankar. He returned to New York in 1967 and formed the Philip Glass Ensemble – seven musicians playing keyboards and a variety of woodwinds, amplified and fed through a mixer. The new musical style that Glass was evolving was eventually dubbed “minimalism.” Glass himself never liked the term and preferred to speak of himself as a composer of “music with repetitive structures.” Much of his early work was based on the extended reiteration of brief, elegant melodic fragments that wove in and out of an aural tapestry. Or, to put it another way, it immersed a listener in a sort of sonic weather that twists, turns, surrounds, develops. There has been nothing “minimalist” about his output. In the past 25 years, Glass has composed more than twenty operas, large and small; eight symphonies (with others already on the way); two piano concertos and concertos for violin, piano, timpani, and saxophone quartet and orchestra; soundtracks to films ranging from new scores for the stylized classics of Jean Cocteau to Errol Morris’s documentary about former defense secretary Robert McNamara; string quartets; a growing body of work for solo piano and organ. He has collaborated with Paul Simon, Linda Ronstadt, Yo-Yo Ma, and Doris Lessing, among many others. He presents lectures, workshops, and solo keyboard performances around the world, and continues to appear regularly with the Philip Glass Ensemble.
Librettist: Rudolph Wurlitzer
Librettist Bio: Wurlitzer was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, but the family moved to New York City shortly after his birth. He is a descendant of Rudolph Wurlitzer (1831–1914), founder of the jukebox company of the same name, but the family fortune had long since been diminished by the time Wurlitzer came of age in the 1950s.[5] When he was 17, he found work on an oil tanker and it was on this first trip he began to write. He spent time at Columbia University and in the Army, and continued to travel, spending time in Paris, and on Majorca where he worked as a secretary for author Robert Graves. He credits Graves with teaching him how to, "write short sentences." He returned to New York City in the mid 1960s where he met and befriended the artists Claes Oldenburg, Robert Frank, and Philip Glass, all of whom he collaborated with at some point. He is married to photographer Lynn Davis and splits his time between homes in upstate New York and Nova Scotia.
Other Artistic Personnel: JoAnne Akalaitis (director)
Work Web Site: http://www.philipglass.com/music/compositions/in_the_penal_colony.php
Premiere Date: August 31, 2000
Producing Company: A Contemporary Theatre (ACT)
Description: Kafka is one of the seminal minds of modernists writing and has proven to be a steadily appealing author for modern audiences.

In the Penal Colony is based on Kafka's short story of the same title. The story describes an execution planned for one of the prisoners of the "colony" for which and up until then, an execution machine has been routinely used.

The material itself is allegorical, and though at first the story appears to address the question of capital punishment, in fact Kafka uses it as a platform to explore, extensively and poetically, issues of humanism, idealism, and transfiguration.

The two protagonists, the commander of the colony and the visitor, are written for a baritone and a tenor or bass and tenor respectively. In addition, there are 2 speaking roles, a prisoner and a guard. A string ensemble accompanies the performers.
Length: 01:20
Total Acts: 1
Orchestration: Soloist(s): Tenor, Baritone, 2 Actors; Orchestration: str (Alt.: Tenor, Bass, 2 Spoken + vln(1&2).vla.vc.db)
Contact: Dunvagen Music Publishers
Address: 257 Park Avenue South, 20th Floor
New York, NY 10010
E-mail Address: info@dunvagen.com
Phone: (212) 979-2080
Composer Web Site: www.philipglass.com
Librettist Web Site: www.rudywurlitzer.com
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