Oldcastle Theatre Company hosts world renowned composer

BENNINGTON — Philip Glass in concert in New York in Mumbai in Buenos Aires in Bennington?

Yes, that's correct: on Saturday, March 24, at 7:30 p.m. in Oldcastle Theatre Company, world-renowned composer Philip Glass will join his old friend and now Bennington resident since 2014, Maestro Thomas Lawrence Toscano, for an evening of performance and conversation.

Glass will perform several of his compositions on piano and then between the pieces will chat informally with Toscano about all things artistic.

The event, which has been sold out since last month and currently has a waiting list of aspiring attendees, has been billed by Oldcastle's artistic director and co-founder Eric Peterson as "the most significant cultural performance arts event in Bennington's history."

Peterson added that the concert is an opportunity to experience Glass' musicianship in an intimate setting while also listening in as two extraordinary composers chat. He said that Toscano was key to bringing Glass to town.

"Since moving to the area from New York, Thomas Lawrence Toscano has been working with Oldcastle developing and delivering our Vocal Performance Workshops," Peterson said. "He and Philip Glass have had a friendship and association that goes back many years. Maestro Toscano raised the possibility of bringing Glass to Bennington, and helped make it happen. Truly, having Glass here is both an honor, and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our arts community and those who love music, the arts, and culture."

The two conductors have been linked together for the better part of three decades. Glass and Toscano met in 1989 when they were introduced by Brazilian musician Tico Da Costa. Their friendship led to a series of collaborations beginning in 1991 when Toscano co-produced and conducted the first Philip Glass opera ever presented in Latin and South America.

In 1997 Glass was instrumental as chief artistic advisor in the creation of the Greenwich Village Philharmonic, where Toscano was the president and conductor. They also later partnered in a project at the Istituto Musicale Vincenzo Bellini in Italy, where Toscano's transcription of Glass' "Company" was arranged for the institution's prominent Clarinet Ensemble, and conducted by Toscano.

Toscano, speaking from WBTN's studio, where he hosts two programs, said that these and many more partnerships led to a rewarding and fruitful friendship in which he considers Glass "a vital mentor and collaborator, a great friend, and a very powerful part of my life."

"When I call him up and asked him for a favor, such as appearing at Oldcastle, he does it, and those are good friends to have," Toscano said. "This performance on Saturday will basically be half and half. He'll come out, we'll talk, he'll perform and we'll talk again, and the evening will continue back and forth like that."

Toscano continued to say that his conversations with Glass on Saturday night will be wide ranging, and not focused so much on the pieces Glass plays.

"We won't be talking about his performances," Toscano said. "We'll discuss many other things surrounding his creativity and our relationship. I'm also sure he will bring up subjects themselves because [Glass] is very interested in supporting the work I'm doing here with the Vocal Performance Workshop and in staging classical concert series."

Glass is also attracted, Toscano continued, to the work that WBTN is doing, as well as Toscano's recent establishment of Bennington Musical Arts, where he gives lessons in both voice and instruments.

Toscano headlines WBTN's "The Listening Shires," which is mostly dedicated to concert music and interviewing artists, a show on which Glass has also appeared, and on "Bennington Today" which focuses on local businesses, non-profits, government and service organizations.

"He's very excited about the fact that I'm now on the radio," Toscano said. "That's something he never imagined from me and didn't see coming."

Peterson agreed with Toscano, adding that the interaction between the two old friends on Saturday night will be the "talk of cultural Bennington for quite some time."

"The hour I spent listening to [Toscano] speaking with Philip Glass on WBTN was one of the most fascinating I've ever listened to, and it was right here in Bennington," Peterson said. "This same dynamic will be on stage during Glass' performance Saturday night. Those in attendance will have the memory of a lifetime."

"An Evening with Philip Glass hosted by Maestro Thomas Lawrence Toscano" will be at 7:30 p.m. on March 24 at Oldcastle Theatre Company, 331 Main St., Bennington. Seating begins at 7:00 p.m. Call for addition to waiting list: 802-447-0564

Reach award-winning freelance journalist Telly Halkias at tchalkias@aol.com or Twitter: @TellyHalkias


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