Turn And Face The Strings: MIT to honor David Bowie with Philip Glass symphony concert


The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has announced an orchestral maneuver for the Duke.

On Friday, January 29, Kresge Auditorium will be the site of MIT Music and Theater Arts’ performance of two Philip Glass symphonies, specifically Symphonies Nos. 1 and 4. Those are patricularly noteworthy to mourning fans of David Bowie, as these two 1990s works are based on two of Bowie’s acclaimed “Berlin era” albums with collaborator Brian Eno, Low and “Heroes”.

To pay tribute, MIT has assembled an all-volunteer orchestra to honor to Bowie in the wake of his passing.


“This is a way for the musical community of Boston to channel our grief and express our gratitude to Bowie in a positive way,” notes conductor Evan Ziporyn in the press release. “The generosity of these top-notch musicians has been incredible, putting their time and talent toward this project on extremely short notice. It took less than a day to put an entire orchestra together, and that’s a real testament, both to Bowie’s impact and to the spirit of our community.”

Glass’ Bowie symphonies are some of the most accomplished and interesting pieces the classical American composer has ever worked on, and while it’s a shame they’re not as well-known (though the Aphex Twin remix helped to bring in a few listeners) as some of his other works, Bowie’s passing has brought them back to the stage.

Symphony No. 1, composed in 1992 and also known as the “Low” Symphony, features two flutes, a piccolo, two oboes, two clarinets, e-flat clarinet, bass clarinet, two bassoons, four horns, three trumpets, three trombones, a tuba, percussion, a harp, a piano and strings (which include eight first violins, six second violins, four violas, four cellos and two double basses). It symphony has three movements: Subterraneans, Some Are, and Warszawa.


The symphony for 1996’s “Heroes”, No. 4, is scored for two flutes, a piccolo, two oboes, two clarinets, bass clarinet, two bassoons, three horns, three trumpets, two trombones, a bass trombone, a tuba, percussion, a harp, a piano, a celesta and strings. The symphony has movements: Heroes, Abdulmajid, Sense of Doubt, Sons of the Silent Age, Neuköln, and V2 Schneider.

Perhaps the best part of the evening is that proceeds from ticket sales will be going to the MIT Cancer Research Fund, to help ensure that this damned scourge finally stops sickening and killing good folks well before their time.

An Orchestral Tribute to David Bowie:: Friday, January 29 at the Kresge Auditorium, 84 Massachusetts Ave. in Cambridge, MA :: 7 p.m., all ages, $15 :: Tickets :: Facebook event page :: Advance tickets