Theatre in Wales

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Philip Glass and Godfrey Reggio’s QATSI Trilogy UK premiere at Wales Millennium Centre this autumn     

This autumn, WMC presents the UK premiere of a powerful partnership between one of the world’s most dynamic musicians, Philip Glass and the critically acclaimed, innovative film maker Godfrey Reggio.
Over three nights Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay will present for the first time in the UK the complete groundbreaking and inspiring trilogy KOYAANISQATSI – Life Out of Balance, POWAQQATSI – Life in Transformation and NAQOYQATSI - Life as War, which has never before been seen in the UK. The films will be shown on a specifically constructed screen in the Donald Gordon Theatre while composer Philip Glass and his ensemble will perform live musical accompaniment from the stage under conductor Michael Riesman. The resulting spectacular - QATSI TRILOGY LIVE - is a musical and cinematic experience that has had a profound effect on audiences worldwide, and promises to be one of the leading arts events of the year.
In 1975, Godfrey Reggio, a man who had spent 14 years in silence and prayer as a member of a contemplative religious order and then devoted his life to community service, latched onto an idea for a film that would create an entirely new motion picture style. His idea was to grab images from real life - emotional, raw, honest images - and present them in a non-verbal, non-linear fashion, forging a kind of concert cinema.

During filmmaking, Reggio invited the daring experimental composer Philip Glass - well known to UK audiences for his body of contemporary orchestral works, film scores including that for Stephen Daldry’s The Hours and his operas’ Einstein on the Beach and The Sound of a Voice - to create a score for his first film KOYAANISQATSI, which in 1982 was released to critical acclaim. It sparked a continuing collaboration between the two artists.

Tickets for each performance range from £10 - £35, for further information visit the WMC website where you can book on-line or call the ticket and information office on 08700 402000.


KOYAANISQATSI – life out of balance
Reggio's debut as a film director and producer, it is the first film of the QATSI trilogy. The title is a Hopi Indian word meaning "life out of balance." Created between 1975 and 1982, the film is an apocalyptic vision of the collision of two different worlds - urban life and technology versus the environment. The musical score was composed by Philip Glass.

Godfrey Reggio describes the film:
“KOYAANISQATSI is not so much about something, nor does it have a specific meaning or value. KOYAANISQATSI is, after all, an animated object, an object in moving time, the meaning of which is up to the viewer. Art has no intrinsic meaning. This is its power, its mystery, and hence, its attraction. Art is free. It stimulates the viewer to insert their own meaning, their own value.
The film's role is to provoke, to raise questions that only the audience can answer. This is the highest value of any work of art, not predetermined meaning, but meaning gleaned from the experience of the encounter. The encounter is my interest, not the meaning”.
Philip Glass describes the music:
“The score for KOYAANISQATSI grew out of the instrumental style typical of the ensemble of keyboards, winds, and voice for whom I had been composing for some years. The movement of the film from the organic images of the American Southwest to the hi-tech accelerated life of modern North American cities was reflected in my version of a modern synthesized music.

POWAQQATSI – life in transformation

The overall focus of this second film in the series is on natives of the Third World - the emerging, land-based cultures of Asia, India, Africa, the Middle East and South America, and how they express themselves through work and traditions. What it has to say about these cultures is an eyeful and then some, sculpted to allow for varied interpretations.
Where KOYAANISQATSI dealt with the imbalance between nature and modern society, POWAQQATSI is a celebration of the human-scale endeavour the craftsmanship, spiritual worship, labour and creativity that defines a particular culture. It's also a celebration of rareness - the delicate beauty in the eyes of an Indian child, the richness of a tapestry woven in Kathmandu - and yet an observation of how these societies move to a universal drumbeat.
POWAQQATSI is also about contrasting ways of life, and in part how the lure of mechanization and technology and the growth of mega-cities are having a negative effect on small-scale cultures.
The title POWAQQATSI is a Hopi Indian conjunctive -- the word Powaqa, which refers to a negative sorcerer who lives at the expense of others, and Qatsi -i.e., life.
Composer Philip Glass, went to Peru, Brazil and West Africa to research and develop the score. It is a departure from his earlier works in the use of many indigenous instruments as well as a Hispanic children's choir, and the integration of African, Latin, Indian and Middle Eastern rhythms. Over 90 musicians and singers were involved in the recording of the score.
Philip Glass comments on the piece:
With POWAQQATSI, we see the indigenous communities of the Southern Hemisphere impacted by rapid transformation through its encounters with the Northern industrialized world. Accordingly, one hears echoes of India, Africa, and South America in this 'world music' score. The use of percussion instruments from around the world further enhance this impression.

NAQOYQATSI - life as war
More important than empires, more powerful than world religions, more decisive than great battles, more impactful than cataclysmic earth changes, NAQOYQATSI chronicles the most significant event of the last five thousand years: the transition from the natural milieu, old nature, to the "new" nature, the technological milieu.
Nature has held earthly unity through the mystery of diversity. New nature achieves this unity through the awesome power of technological homogenization. NAQOYQATSI is a reflection on this singular event, where our subject is the medium itself, the wonderland of technology. The medium is our story. In this scenario human beings do not use technology as a tool (the popular point-of-view), but rather we live technology as a way of life. Technology is the big force and like oxygen it is always there, a necessity that we cannot live without. Because its appetite is seemly infinite, it is consuming the finite world of nature. It is in this sense that technology is NAQOYQATSI, a sanctioned aggression against the force of life itself - war life, a total - war beyond the wars of the battlefield.
NAQOYQATSI takes us on an epical journey into a land that is nowhere, yet everywhere; the land where the image itself is our location, where the real gives way to the virtual. As the gods of old become dethroned, a new pantheon of light appears in the integrated circuit of the computer. Its truth becomes the truth.
Extremes of promise and spectacle, tragedy and startling hope fuse in a digital tidal wave of image and music. In a poetic nanosecond, NAQOYQATSI give utterance to a new world coming, a new world here.
Philip Glass comments about the music:
“With this film, the "civilized violence" in the narrative of the film goes beyond anything seen in the two preceding films. In this case, I chose a contrasting language for the music, composing music for a large (acoustic) symphonic ensemble featuring a solo cello throughout. My instinct was to balance the quite startling effect of the synthetically composed images with a sound world of "natural" timbres. Furthermore, the solo cello – played superbly by YoYo Ma - quickly emerges as the "voice" of the music, lending the score an overall human dimension.
The orchestra provides some kind of entrance, like a doorway, into the film. I feared that if the piece were too abstract people wouldn't connect with it. For that reason, I went with a very acoustic, symphonic piece that could be played by a real human orchestra”.

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Philip Glass is a graduate of the University of Chicago and the Juilliard School. In the early 1960s, Glass spent two years of intensive study in Paris with Nadia Boulanger and while there, earned money by transcribing Ravi Shankar's Indian music into Western notation. Upon his return to New York, he applied these eastern techniques to his own music.
By 1974, Glass had a number of significant and innovative projects, creating a large collection of new music for his performing group, The Philip Glass Ensemble, and for the Mabou Mines Theatre Company, which he co-founded. This period culminated in Music in Twelve Parts, followed by the followed by the landmark opera, Einstein on the Beach, created with Robert Wilson in 1976. Since Einstein, Glass has expanded his repertoire to include music for opera, dance, theatre, chamber ensemble, orchestra, and film. His score for Martin Scorsese's Kundun received an Academy Award nomination while his score for Peter Weir's The Truman Show won him a Golden Globe. His film score for Stephen Daldry's The Hours received Golden Globe, Grammy, and Academy Award nominations, along with winning a BAFTA in Film Music from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.

In 2003, Glass premiered the opera The Sound of a Voice with David Henry Hwang, created the score to Errol Morris' Academy Award winning documentary The Fog of War, and released the CD Etudes for Piano Vol. I, No. 1-10 on the Orange Mountain Music label. In 2004 Glass premiered the new work Orion – a collaboration between Glass and six other international artists opening in Athens as part of the cultural celebration of the 2004 Olympics in Greece and his Piano Concerto No. 2 (After Lewis and Clark) with the Omaha Symphony Orchestra. Upcoming in 2005 is his Symphony No. 7 is one of the most recent Glass's works with the National Symphony Orchestra and the opera Waiting for the Barbarians, based on the book by John Coetzee.

Godfrey Reggio is an inventor of a film style which creates poetic images of extraordinary emotional impact for audiences worldwide. Reggio is prominent in the film world for his QATSI trilogy, essays of visual images and sound which chronicle the destructive impact of the modern world on the environment.

Born in New Orleans in 1940 and raised in Louisiana, Reggio spent 14 years in a Roman Catholic religious order of men (the Christian Brothers) - living in community, dedicated to prayer, study, and teaching. Based in New Mexico during the 1960’s, Reggio taught school, lectured, and co-founded Young Citizens for Action, a community organization project of juvenile street gangs. Following this, Reggio co-founded La Clinica de la Gente, a Santa Fe community medical clinic, and La Gente, a community organizing project in the barrios of Santa Fe.
In 1972, he co-founded the Institute for Regional Education in Santa Fe, a non-profit foundation focused on media development, the arts, community organization and research. In 1974 and 1975, with funding from the American Civil Liberties Union, Reggio co-organized a multi- media public interest campaign on the invasion of privacy and the use of technology to control behaviour.

About WMC

WMC is undoubtedly amongst the most vibrant arts developments in Europe today and is quickly taking its place alongside the leading performing arts venues of the world.

WMC is a furnace of creativity, where creative work is conceived, developed and produced on a daily basis by the diverse resident arts companies that have their home in the Centre. In addition to creating their own work, they contribute to all aspects of the Centre’s program.

The creation of WMC was supported by a grant of up to £37 million from the Welsh Assembly Government, a £30.7 million Lottery grant from the Millennium Commission and a £9.8 million grant from the Arts Council of Wales Capital Lottery Fund. £10 million was kindly donated by successful South African businessman, Donald Gordon. The main auditorium is named after him for his generous support.

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Thursday, November 24, 2005back



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