Published Nov 27, 2016"There is no Nobel Prize for Music, so this award is significant to me." As Philip Glass graced the National Arts Centre Stage Saturday night (November 26) to accept the 11th Glenn Gould Prize, that simple statement lent the prestigious recognition added gravitas. Presented every two or three years since 1987, the prize represents more than just artistic acknowledgement; it commends those dedicated to "improving the human condition through music and communication." Former recipients have included Oscar Peterson, Yo-Yo Ma and Leonard Cohen.
Opening the evening's ceremonies with a performance of the honouree's 2003 minimal composition "Ètude no. 2," New York classical pianist Simone Dinnerstein, best known for her take on the Goldberg Variations, artfully represented both Glass and Gould. After the 79-year-old took to the stage to humbly accept his award from the evening's host, British vocalist Petula Clark (who would later treat the audience to her rendition of Philip Glass and Mick Jagger's "Streets of Berlin"), the 64-piece National Arts Centre Orchestra delivered Glass's 2005 "Symphony No. 8" in three movements, masterfully demonstrating his unpredictable style of composition.
Following a brief intermission, Dinnerstein returned to perform Glass's uncharacteristically fluid "Ètude no. 6," proceeded by "Heavy Sleep," an original piece from modern composer Timo Andres, who was chosen by the inductee to receive the "City of Toronto Glenn Gould Protégé Prize." Then, after Israeli-born cellist Matt Haimovitz offered the audience his "Overture for solo cello," written by Glass, the NAC Orchestra returned to close the evening out with Movement 5 from Philip's 2011 repetition-heavy "Symphony No. 10."
As Philip Glass (who, disappointingly, did not take the stage to perform), stood from his balcony seat, the 2,000 person crowd nonetheless showered him with an impassioned standing ovation, respectfully honouring the iconic composer with the same respect and gratitude that he has spent his career giving to music — and to the world in general.