Michael Riesman and Ensemble Signal Celebrate Philip Glass

On Monday May 15, at 6pm, I attended a Pop Up! concert at the Miller Theater at Columbia University School of The Arts. This Pop Up! concert was in honor of Philip Glass’s film and opera music as interpreted by Michael Riesman. Arriving to the location was a long walk from the train station so it was a pleasant surprise when I found out they had a free open bar at this free Pop Up! concert event, it made for a very relaxing time after being tired from walking and then waiting on a long line to get inside. After getting settled into my seat i realized that there were chairs up on the stage right in front of the piano; turns out people could actually purchase tickets to sit right up front and center with the musicians. It definitely created a very intimate setting for the performance, just not for those who did not purchase those tickets as we could not see the musicians at all, it was all just a listening setting for us down below.

Michael Riesman was the pianist for this concert, along with Doug Perkins on percussion and Laura Radnofsky on cello who are part of Ensemble Signal. The trio performed pieces from a blend of Philip Glass’s film and opera music. These pieces came from The Hours (2002 film), Naqoyqatsi (2002 film), Dracula, La Belle et la Bete (1994 opera) and Satyagraha (1979 opera).

The music that Philip Glass composed for these films and operas were definitely minimalist, for most pieces it only used two out of the three available instruments and it was not a complex scoring, as far as i could hear. The very first piece only included piano and cello, the majority of the pieces were cello and percussion. All the pieces were calming, relaxing, and romantic, it also helped create a scene in my mind, although i had never heard or seen any of the films or operas these pieces were coming from, I was able to feel like i was watching scenes unfold right in front of me, it was quite an experience.

At the bottom i have attached two recordings i was able to get from the performance, the first one is Tissue No.1 performed with cello and percussion from Naqoyqatsi and the second recording is The Poet Acts from The Hours performed with piano and cello.

On stage seating at the Pop Up! concert honoring Philip Glass


  1. Emil Garcia says:

    Very nice! I wanted to attend this concert but couldn’t make it. How long was the performance?
    Also I couldn’t get the audio links to work. I really wanted to check it out 🙁

  2. The audio worked fine for me. I wonder if it is a browser compatibility issue. I used Chrome and it was fine.
    I’m curious, did people buy tickets to sit on stage? I thought the Pop-Up concerts were always free. I suspect they were just the first to arrive and so they got to sit on the stage. Usually, everyone sits on the stage for these events. I hope others will check them out in the future: free concerts uptown? What’s not to like about that!

  3. I read that there’s cello and piano performances along with cello and percussion and got excited to hear but the links don’t seem to work. I’m curious though with the cello playing with percussions, did you had a hard time hearing the cello? Were the percussion low in dynamic?

  4. tuan ngo says:

    I could imagine the atmosphere for this event and music. It seems like a laid back atmosphere because of violin playing technique. I could see why it has a bar because you can sip on some beverage while listening to the smoothness of the violin. The violin sustains notes and utilizing the legato technique. I would not expect sforzando to appear or heard. The two pieces you upload insinuate emotion because of the legato. I sense a monophonic because each of these instruments was playing one melody and was not accompanies by other instruments. When you attended this performance did it personally insinuate you any emotion? The music provided me with emotion connecting to my despair past especially the second clip you uploaded

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