Pianist Paul Barnes gives world-premier of
Philip Glass's Piano Concerto No.2 (After Lewis and Clark)
Sept 18, 2004

  Barnes performing the first movement
Pianist Paul Barnes performs the first movement of Philip Glass's Piano Concerto No.2 (After Lewis and Clark) with the Omaha Symphony conducted by Victor Yampolsky at the Lied Center for Performing Arts, Lincoln.  Photo by John Nollendorf.

Lincoln Journal Star's review of the premier

Omaha World Herald's review of the premier
A review from a Philip Glass fan who traveled from Florida to attend the premier!
Boston Globe review
Boston Herald review
Santa Cruz Sentinel review
Seattle Times review

Paul Barnes and Marin Alsop
Paul Barnes with Marin Alsop at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, August 2005

From UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman
There was enormous satisfaction to be sitting behind Philip Glass while listening to Paul Barnes and the Omaha Symphony play "After Lewis and Clark" and knowing this event was a product of the commitment Nebraska, its citizens, and its University have to the arts. Nebraskans conceived of the idea and largely paid for it. The University is very proud to claim Paul as a member of its faculty and to have the premier at the Lied Center on the University of Nebraska campus. And, the music came alive. One could "feel" the audacity of the expedition in the audacity of the music. If ever music has the capacity to transport the listener to a different time and place, this piece did so. If ever one thought that athleticism is confined to fields and courts, they should watch Paul's hands as he addresses the pace and intricacies of the music. It was an unforgettable evening. The University of Nebraska is pleased to have participated in presenting this gift to the world.

Harvey Perlman
Chancellor, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Paul Barnes with Philip Glass
Paul Barnes with Philip Glass

Paul Barnes and R. Carlos Nakai
R.Carlos Nakai and Paul Barnes perform "Sacagawea" from Piano Concerto No.2 by Philip Glass.  Photo by John Nollendorf

Program Notes
Philip Glass’s Piano Concerto No.2 (After Lewis and Clark)

I.      The Vision 12'
II.     Sacagawea  10'
III.   The Land  12'

I met Philip Glass in 1995 on a plane heading from Lincoln Nebraska to Chicago after enduring a grueling job interview at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln School of Music.   We began talking about religion and piano music and soon I was transcribing Glass’s theater works for the piano.  My first three transcriptions, one each from Einstein on the Beach, Satyagraha, and Akhknaten were published in 2000 as The Trilogy Sonata by Chester Music of London. In April of 2001 I gave the world premier in New York City of Glass’s Orphée Suite for Piano, a series of seven transcriptions I had done from Glass’s theater work Orphée. In June of 2003, Glass’s recording label Orange Mountain Music released  my solo piano recording of the Orphée Suite along with the Trilogy Sonata

The next step in our professional relationship was the commissioning of a new work for piano.   And with the approaching bicentennial commemoration of the Lewis and Clark expedition and my own connections to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as Associate Professor and Co-chair of the Piano area, the idea of a piano concerto commemorating the bicentennial was born.  When I initially approached Glass about basing the new work on Lewis and Clark, he was particularly interested in the challenging task of presenting both the white and the Native American perspective.   The commissioning of the new concerto was funded by the Nebraska Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Commission, the Lied Center for Performing Arts, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts.   Without the vision and financial support of this consortium, the work would not have been possible.

The concerto is written in the traditional three movements.  The first movement entitled "The Vision" is based on Lewis and Clark and was described by Glass as a "musical steamroller" signifying the tremendous resolve and energy required of Lewis and Clark for their remarkable expedition.  It is scored for piano, single woodwinds, brass, strings and percussion.  The movement opens in the key of G minor with a driving molto allegro theme in the orchestra in the irregular meter of 6+4/8 with the piano providing the underlying rhythmic drive.  This energetic section is followed by a piano segue into a slower contrasting section in 4/4 time beginning with a piano ostinato.  This section gradually increases in musical complexity as more and more instruments are added to the musical texture each with their own rhythmic identity. The opening molto allegro section then returns in the right hand of the piano with the violins in 5/4 time and then is ingeniously combined with the ostinato of the slower 4/4 section played by the left hand of the piano and the violas and cellos.  The pianist therefore has the interesting rhythmic challenge of playing an intense polymeter with the left hand in 4/4 time the right hand in 5/4 simultaneously.  This rhythmic tension is finally resolved as the movement reaches its climax at the fortissimo statement of the opening theme in the piano this time with everyone in the triumphant meter of 4/4.  A coda follows with the return of the slower tempo  punctuated by virtuoso double octaves in the piano.  The movement ends pensively with piano alone. Particularly challenging for the pianist is the fact that throughout the entire energetic experience of this opening movement, the piano gets only four bars of rest.   Although nothing compared to the expedition of Lewis and Clark over the Bitterroot Mountains, it is an athletic feat nonetheless.

The second movement "Sacagawea" is scored for strings only and features a duet between the piano and the Native American flute performed here by the renown  Native American flutist R. Carlos Nakai.  The movement  is based on Sacagawea,  Shoshone Indian, mother, and indispensable companion to Lewis and Clark.  The opening theme in the flute is a musical representation of the name ‘Sacagawea.’ This lyrical contemplative theme in the brooding key of F Sharp minor gives way to a faster section exploiting the B major/minor triad which accompanies a traditional Shoshone theme.  These two distinct and rather disparate thematic ideas are then combined in a developmental middle section.  The mood is one of dark, lyrical contemplation mixed with the more festive traditional Shoshone theme.  The return of the Sacagawea theme begins with rather heavy, angst-laden syncopated chords in the piano.   But as the return progresses, the chords are gradually replaced by the calming effect of undulating triplets.   The movement ends with quiet resignation and resolution in A major.  

The third and final movement entitled "The Land" is a gloriously expansive theme and variations reflecting the great vastness of the land explored by Lewis and Clark.  And this expansiveness refers not only to the vast area involved, but the expanse of time over which the land has evolved.  As Glass commented in our final working session on the concerto in July of 2004, "I wanted this final movement to reflect also the expanse of time - what the land was before the expedition and what it became after."  The movement begins with an extended introduction in the orchestra followed by the initial statement of the theme in the piano alone.  This stately theme derived both from the closing measures of the first movement and the opening theme of the Sacagawea  movement  is characterized by large, opulent chords animated by unusual inner lines creating a Bach-like relationship between the vertical chord structures and the inner voices.  Six variations follow in a unique type of canon where Glass orchestrates the piano part of the previous variation while the pianist plays the new variation.   Fascinating sonic interplay results as overlapping harmonies and counterpoint characterize the remarkable interaction between the piano and the orchestra.   Variations two and three feature the use of extended trills and scales respectively while variation four explores a neo-romantic Brahmsian texture in the piano.   Variation five includes the return of the original form of the theme with varied rhythmic counterpoint in the piano.   The sixth and final variation culminates in virtuoso piano passagework and a dramatic restatement of the opening theme.   Following this variation is a solo cadenza  I composed based closely on the opening solo theme in the piano.   The cadenza is followed by a repeat of variation six, and the work concludes with a pensive coda reminiscent of the ending of the first movement.

The world premier performance of Glass’s Piano Concerto No.2 (After Lewis and Clark)took place in Lincoln, Nebraska on September 18th 2004 with the Omaha Symphony at the Lied Center for Performing Arts .    Additional performances included two more performances with the Omaha Symphony  on September 24 and 25 at the Orpheum Theater in Omaha as well as performances with the Pro-Arte Chamber Orchestra of Boston on November 28th, 2004, the Cabrillo Contemporary Music Festival with Marin Alsop conducting on August 6, 2005,  and the Northwest Chamber Orchestra in Seattle on September  25th, 2005.

As with all of our previous collaborations, working with Philip Glass on this new concerto has been a tremendously exhilarating and musical rewarding experience for me.  I look forward to the next musical chapter wherever it may lead.

Notes by Paul Barnes

Barnes and Glass embrace after the premier
Barnes and Glass embrace after the premier performance of Piano Concerto No.2

standing ovation
Standing ovation for the premier performance

Philip Glass
     Philip Glass is one of the most widely performed contemporary American composers, showing a great affinity for film in his work. His motion picture scores include Koyaanisqatsi, Misima, Powaqqatsi, Nagoyqatsi, The Thin Blue Line, A Brief History of Time, and Candyman.

 Critically acclaimed film scores include Martin Scorsese's Kundun (Oscar® and Golden Globe nominations, winner of L.A. Film Critics Association Award), Stephen Daldry's The Hours (Golden Globe and Oscar® nominations) and the original music for Peter Weir's The Truman Show, which won a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score in 1999. In addition, he composed new scores to be performed live with such classics as Tod Browning's Dracula and Jean Cocteau's Orphée, La Belle et la Bête and Les Enfants Terribles. One of his recent touring projects is "Philip on Film," a culmination of 25 years of his work in film.

 Born in Baltimore, Glass studied flute and violin as a child.  He began majoring in mathematics and philosophy at the University of Chicago at age 15 and graduated at 19. Determined to become a composer, he moved to New York where he attended the Julliard School of Music, then spent two years studying intensively under Nadia Boulanger in Paris. While in Paris, he discovered Ravi Shankar and the techniques of Indian music, which had a profound effect on him.  By 1974, he had composed a large collection of music, some of it for the Mabou Mines Theater Company and a large portion for his own Philip Glass Ensemble.  This period culminated in "Music in Twelve Parts," a three-hour summation of Glass' new music, and reached its apogee in 1976 with the Philip Glass/Robert Wilson opera "Einstein on the Beach," the four-hour epic now seen as a landmark in 20th-century musical theater.

 In addition to "Einstein on the Beach," Glass has collaborated with Robert Wilson on several other projects including 'the CIVIL wars" (Rome Section), a multi-composer epic written for the 1984 Olympic Games, "White Raven," an opera commissioned by Portugal to celebrate its history of discovery, which premiered at Expo 98 in Lisbon, and "Monsters of Grace," a digital 3-D opera.  Glass' other operas include "Satyagraha," "Akhnaten," "The Making of the Representative for Planet 8" (libretto by Doris Lessing), "The Fall of the House of Usher," "Hydrogen Jukebox" (libretto by Allen Ginsberg) and "The Voyage" (libretto by David Henry Hwang).  The latter received its world premiere at the Metropolitan Opera.

 He has written songs with lyrics by David Byrne, Paul Simon, Laurie Anderson and Suzanne Vega. Among his orchestral works are "Itaipu," "Concerto Fantasy for Two Timpanists and Orchestra," "Concerto for Cello and Orchestra," "Symphony No. 2," "Symphony No. 3," the "Low" and "Heroes" Symphonies (both based on the music of David Bowie and Brian Eno) and "Symphony No. 5 -- Requiem," "Bardo and Nirmanakaya," a large-scale work for chorus, voice and orchestra. His most recent premieres have included "Symphony No. 6" (Plutonian Ode), with text by Allen Ginseberg, commissioned by Carnegie Hall in honor of Glass' 65th birthday and the opera "Galileo, Galilei," commissioned by Chicago's Goodman Theater.