The Annenberg Center Presents #GLASSFEST, a Three-Week Festival Celebrating Composer Philip Glass

February 6, 2020

(Philadelphia – February 6, 2020) — The Annenberg Center celebrates the career and impact of Philip Glass, one of our nation’s most significant modern composers, with a three-week festival, #GLASSFEST, February 21 – March 14. Visit for ticket information. 


The Annenberg Center first presented the composer with The Philip Glass Ensemble in the 1990s. Through frequent appearances and a long-term commitment to showcasing new music, the Annenberg Center championed Glass and familiarized him to Philadelphia audiences. The three-week #GLASSFEST includes The Crossing choir performing Knee Plays, works by Philip Glass and David Byrne (February 21-22, 2020); the Philadelphia premiere of the five-hour entirety of Glass’ groundbreaking Music in Twelve Parts, performed by The Philip Glass Ensemble (February 29, 2020); Glass Reflections performed by pianist Jenny Lin in the Egypt Upper Gallery at the Penn Museum (March 5, 2020); and the world premiere of theatrical work, The White Lama: The Improbable Legacy of Theos Bernard (March 13-14, 2020) by multi-disciplinary theatre artist and filmmaker Nikki Appino, featuring a score that will be performed by Glass himself and co-composer Tenzin Choegyal. 

The Annenberg Center’s #GLASSFEST opens on February 21-22 with GrammyⓇ Award-winning new-music choir, The Crossing, called “America’s most astonishing choir” by The New York Times, in the premiere of Knee Plays, a newly staged theatrical production. The program offers a rare opportunity to hear Knee Plays from Philip Glass’s Einstein on the Beach and David Byrne’s New Orleans-inspired contribution to Robert Wilson’s largescale project, the CIVIL warS, connected on one program. The production was conceived and led by Donald Nally, conductor of The Crossing, and will be narrated by Philadelphia actor Dito van Reigersberg. These performances are presented as part of the Annenberg Center’s season residency with The Crossing.

Click here for bios and program notes.

Click here for photographs of The Crossing.

On February 29, the Annenberg Center welcomes The Philip Glass Ensemble back to Philadelphia for the first time in 21 years to perform the local premiere of Glass’ groundbreaking Music in Twelve Parts in its entirety. Composed between 1971 and 1974, Music in Twelve Parts is a masterpiece of minimalism built on Glass’ exploration on repetition. Both a massive theoretical exercise and a deeply engrossing work of art, a complete performance of this seminal piece is a rare, coveted experience for Glass fans and all those who enjoy new music. Music in Twelve Parts runs five hours, with two intermissions and a dinner break. A catered buffet dinner will be offered for an additional charge. (Please note that Philip Glass does not perform as part of this concert.)

Click here for bios and program notes. (Please note, Sam Sadigursky will replace Jon Gibson for this performance.)

Click here for photographs of The Philip Glass Ensemble.

Known for her charismatic stage presence and “remarkable technical command” (The New York Times), pianist Jenny Lin makes her Annenberg Center Presents debut on March 5 with her Glass Reflections program. Lin juxtaposes Philip Glass’ piano etudes with challenging works by Debussy, Liszt, Schubert and more, displaying the true universality of his music. Having toured previously with Glass himself, Lin brings a technical brilliance and virtuosic facility to Glass’ lyrical and rhythmically demanding music. This performance takes place in the newly-renovated Egypt Upper Gallery at the Penn Museum.

Click here for bio and program notes.

Click here for photographs of Jenny Lin.

Theos Bernard was the first westerner to study at the secretive monasteries of Tibet. A national celebrity for his exploits at the time, he faded into obscurity after his mysterious disappearance in India, but not before he inspired a generation of spiritual seekers in the 50’s, 60’s and beyond. Conceived by multi-disciplinary theatre artist and filmmaker Nikki Appino, The White Lama: The Improbable Legacy of Theos Bernard is about the seeker in all of us. Part biography, part invocation, this experimental work which blends music, projected imagery and prose performed by Kevin Joyce, with a score played live by Tenzin Choegyal and Philip Glass, receives its world premiere March 13 and 14. Major support for The White Lama has been provided to Nikki Appino by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. The White Lama is co-commissioned by the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts and The Days and Nights Festival.

Click here for bios and program notes.

Click here for photographs of the making of The White Lama: The Improbable Legacy of Theos Bernard.

Click here for an interview with Nikki Appino about the making of The White Lama: The Improbable Legacy of Theos Bernard.

Philip Glass

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. By 1974, Glass had a number of innovative projects creating a large collection of new music for The Philip Glass Ensemble and for the Mabou Mines Theater Company. This period culminated in Music in Twelve Parts and the landmark opera Einstein on the Beach, for which he collaborated with Robert Wilson. Since Einstein, Glass has expanded his repertoire to include music for opera, dance, theater, chamber ensemble, orchestra and film. His scores have received Academy Award nominations (Kundun, The Hours, Notes on a Scandal) and a Golden Globe (The Truman Show). In the past few years, several new works were unveiled including an opera on the death of Walt Disney, The Perfect American (co-commissioned by Teatro Real, Madrid and the English National Opera), a new touring production of Einstein, the publication of Glass’s memoir, Words Without Music, by Liveright Books, and the premiere of the revised version of Glass’ opera Appomattox, in collaboration with librettist Christopher Hampton, by the Washington National Opera in November 2015.

Glass celebrated his 80th birthday on January 31, 2017 with the world premiere of Symphony No. 11 at Carnegie Hall. His 80th birthday season featured programming around the globe, including the U.S. premieres of operas The Trial and The Perfect American, and world premieres of several new works, including Piano Concerto No. 3 and String Quartet No. 8. In 2015, Glass received the U.S. National Medal of Arts and the 11th Glenn Gould Prize. He was honored with the Richard and Barbara Debs Composer’s Chair from Carnegie Hall for the 2017-2018 season. Glass received the 41st Kennedy Center Honors in December 2018. In January 2019, the Los Angeles Philharmonic presented the world premiere of Glass’ Symphony No. 12, based on David Bowie’s album Lodger and a completion of three symphonies based on Bowie’s Berlin Trilogy. Glass continues to perform solo piano and chamber music evenings with world renowned musicians.