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Orange County commissions Glass

Some of the background music for a KCRW-FM documentary on the construction of the Walt Disney Concert Hall was by Philip Glass. It may have sounded appropriate to the producers -- sparkling metallic modern concert hall reflected in sparkling metallic modern music. But few composers seem less likely to be heard in Disney than Glass, unless perhaps L.A. Philharmonic Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen revives the children’s opera hour he once did at the Ojai Festival with some Finnish friends. That included a hilarious sendup of “Einstein at the Beach.” Even the prospect of that Glass/Robert Wilson classic’s coming to the Music Center, as was once all but promised, is highly unlikely. The planned “Einstein” revival to be jointly produced by Los Angeles Opera and UCLA Live proved too expensive.

But for Glass addicts who need the big stuff -- and for whom soundtracks (like the terrific one accompanying the new documentary “The Fog of War”) or the occasional UCLA appearance by the composer’s ensemble aren’t enough -- help is on the way in Orange County. The Pacific Symphony, which performed Glass’ massive millennial Fifth Symphony three years ago, has commissioned a new Glass symphony, his eighth. The premiere of the work for orchestra, chorus and vocal soloists is scheduled for May 2005, and music director Carl St.Clair will conduct.

Segerstrom Hall may not be Disney, but the Orange County Performing Arts Center is building a new hall for the orchestra that will open in 2006, and permission would appear secured for the use of Glass’ music on any documentary about the project.

-- Mark Swed

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