Impressions With Philip Glass

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Composer Talks Scoring REBIRTH

From Kundun to The Hours to The Fog of War, Philip Glass isn't the type of composer to wed himself to one cinematic genre. Like an actor, Glass noted in a phone interview, he imagines the emotional motivation of the characters, fictional or otherwise, when scoring a film. While working on REBIRTH, the feelings behind this documentary were more accessible for Glass, a longtime Downtown resident.

"There was no difficulty in imagining those emotions. They were immediate and firsthand," Glass said. "What I noticed was that people put photographs [of their missing loved ones] all over the city?the bottom line is that [the event] was about suffering?human suffering."

On Sept. 11, 2001, Glass was on tour in Brazil. Many of the musicians he works with, however, were based in Tribeca and had to leave their homes. "Just being able to talk [on the phone] with your family was difficult," Glass said of the hours and days after the event.

For REBIRTH, instead of creating musical motifs for each of the five subjects chronicled in the film, Glass' score focused on the passage of time since 9/11.

"The point is almost everybody experiences the same thing. In the first years, it's all about suffering and loss. Gradually that diminishes?to a place of renewal and living your life again. The rebirth happens to everybody," Glass noted. "So the music followed the timeline?of how people experienced it."

Glass hopes the film will be screened and exported widely throughout the world, especially to other regions with a history of recent trauma like Mumbai or South Africa. He points out that the documentary isn't ideologically or politically motivated, and that the politics surrounding the event aren't a focus of the work.

"My hope is that when people see this film, they understand that 9/11 was about people," he noted.

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