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Symphonic Tribute to David Bowie Headlines Glastonbury Festival This Weekend

David Bowie

David Bowie

The Glastonbury Festival, a five day arts festival held in the English countryside, has announced that it will honor recently deceased pop star David Bowie with a classical tribute on Saturday, June 25, 2016. Conductor Charles Hazlewood will lead a performance of Philip Glass’s Symphony No. 4, “Heroes,” inspired by Bowie’s album of the same name. The tribute is fitting since Bowie performed at the first festival in 1971.

Glass said, according to “When Charles told me of his plan to take my ‘Heroes Symphony’ to Glastonbury, I was delighted. It’s very exciting to think of it playing – at the midnight hour – out across the parkland, a true celebration of Bowie. I am so very pleased members of the British Paraorchestra and Chris Levine’s epic light performance will be part of it. What a spectacular collaboration. This is sound and vision Bowie-style.” Listen to an excerpt of the symphony below.

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“Heroes” isn’t the only Bowie-inspired symphony Glass composed, however.  His Symphony No. 1, “Low,” composed in 1992, is based on Bowie’s album Low. In his own notes to the work, Glass wrote:

“The record consisted of a number of songs and instrumentals and used techniques which were similar to procedures used by composers working in new and experimental music. As such, this record was widely appreciated by musicians working both in the field of “pop” music and in experimental music and was a landmark work of that period.

“I’ve taken themes from three of the instrumentals on the record and, combining them with material of my own, have used them as the basis of three movements of the Symphony. Movement one comes from ‘Subterraneans,’ movement two from ‘Some Are’ and movement three from ‘Warszawa.’

“My approach was to treat the themes very much as if they were my own and allow their transformations to follow my own compositional bent when possible. In practice, however, Bowie and Eno’s music certainly influenced how I worked, leading me to sometimes surprising musical conclusions. In the end I think I arrived at something of a real collaboration between my music and theirs.”

What Bowie albums would you want to hear played by a symphony orchestra? Tell us in the comments.



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