Watch Godfrey Reggio’s groundbreaking film Koyaanisqatsi, set to a score by Philip Glass, performed live by the Philip Glass Ensemble, in a hypnotic exploration of nature, urbanization, and a world out of balance.

Koyaanisqatsi marked Philip Glass’ first major film success. The film, directed by Godfrey Reggio, and its score, are considered to be one of the most influential combinations of music and cinema in the past century. Koyaanisqatsi features a collection of expertly photographed phenomena with no conventional plot. The footage focuses on nature, humanity, and the relationship between them, painting an apocalyptic vision of the collision of two different worlds — urban life and technology versus the environment.

The film will be screened with its musical score performed live by the Philip Glass Ensemble. Music critic Tim Page describes “The Grid”, the longest section of the music: “It begins simply enough, in a rather old-fashioned manner, the brass puttering along with near-Elgarian pomp. A few minutes on, however, one of Glass’s trademark bright, rapid arpeggiated passages for keyboard and woodwinds cuts fiercely into the action, and the music is transformed. For the rest of its twenty-one minutes and twenty-three seconds, The Grid might as well have been titled The Dervish, as it whirls, furiously and exhaustively, through hundreds of reiterations, all varied just enough to sustain the listener’s interest. Try playing this movement on a long drive someday and you will soon discover the true meaning of “highway hypnosis.”

NYU Abu Dhabi currently chairs the Universities Climate Network, which comprises UAE-based universities and higher education institutions to facilitate dialogues, workshops, public events, policy briefs, and youth participation in the lead up to and beyond COP28. Presented in support of COP28.

Presented as part of the lead-up to COP28


The Philip Glass Ensemble

The Philip Glass Ensemble (PGE) comprises the principal performers of the music of Philip Glass. In 1968, Glass founded the PGE in New York City as a laboratory for his music. Its purpose was to develop a performance practice to meet the unprecedented technical and artistic demands of his compositions. In pioneering this approach, the PGE became a creative wellspring for Glass, and its members remain inimitable interpreters of his work. The artists of the PGE recognize their unique position in the history of music of the past half-century, and passing on that legacy is part of their practice, with a deep dedication to educating the next generation of artists in the authentic practice of Philip Glass’ music.

The PGE debuted at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1969, and in its early years performed primarily in the galleries, artist lofts, and museums of SoHo’s then thriving artistic community. In the five decades since, the PGE has performed in world renowned music festivals and concert halls across five continents, and has made records with Sony, Nonesuch, and Orange Mountain Music. Many of Philip Glass’s most celebrated works were expressly composed for the PGE: its core concert pieces Music in Twelve Parts, Music in Similar Motion, and Music with Changing Parts; the opera and musical theater projects Einstein on the Beach, Hydrogen Jukebox, 1000 Airplanes on the Roof, Monsters of Grace; and the full-length dance works DANCE (Lucinda Childs) and A Descent Into the Maelström (Australian Dance Theater). The PGE is most widely acclaimed for its soundtracks to Godfrey Reggio’s trilogy of wordless films: Koyaanisqatsi, Powaqqatsi, and Naqoyqatsi. It is also featured in Glass’s operas La Belle et la Bête and The Photographer.

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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). Glass’s memoir Words Without Music was published by Liveright Books in 2015.

Glass received the Praemium Imperiale in 2012, the U.S. National Medal of the Arts from President Barack Obama in 2016, and 41st Kennedy Center Honors in 2018. Glass’s recent works include a circus opera Circus Days and Nights, Symphony No. 13, and Symphony No 14. Glass celebrated his 85th birthday in 2022 with a season of international programming.

The Philip Glass Ensemble Members:

Michael Riesman (music director, keyboard) is a composer, arranger, conductor, keyboardist, and record producer. He is the Music Director of the Philip Glass Ensemble, which he joined in 1974. He has conducted and performed on many recordings of works by Glass, including most of his film soundtracks. He has recorded five albums of piano arrangements of Glass film music: The Hours, Dracula, Philip Glass Soundtracks, Beauty and the Beast, and Philip Glass Soundtracks Vol. 2. He has conducted major ensembles including the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Toronto, Sydney, and BBC Symphony Orchestras, and has appeared as a piano soloist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Milwaukee Symphony. He has conducted and performed on albums by Paul Simon (Hearts and Bones) and David Bowie (BlackTie/White Noise). Riesman’s work Formal Abandon, a commission by choreographer Lucinda Childs, is available on iTunes.

Lisa Bielawa (voice, keyboard) is a Rome Prize winner in Musical Composition and recipient of the 2017 Music Award from the American Academy of Arts & Letters. She was named a William Randolph Hearst Visiting Artist Fellow at the American Antiquarian Society for 2018 and was Artist-in-Residence at New York’s Kaufman Music Center for the 2020-2021 season. In 1997, Bielawa co-founded the MATA Festival. In 2022, Bielawa was selected for a residency with the Louisville Orchestra’s Creators Corps and temporarily relocated to Louisville to make new orchestral and community-based work. Bielawa’s music has premiered at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Rouen Opera, and Helsinki Music Center, among others. Orchestras that championed her music include The Knights, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, ROCO in Houston, and the Orlando Philharmonic. Premieres of her work have been commissioned and presented by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Radio France, Yerevan Concert Hall in Armenia, the Venice Architecture Biennale, and more. She received a 2018 Los Angeles Area Emmy nomination for her made-for-TV-and-online opera Vireo: The Spiritual Biography of a Witch’s Accuser. Vireo was released on CD/DVD in 2019 (Orange Mountain Music). Bielawa is also recorded on the Tzadik and BMOP/ sound labels, among others. Bielawa began touring as the vocalist with the Philip Glass Ensemble in 1992.

Dan Bora (audio, house mix) is a producer, engineer, and sound designer of albums, film scores, and live sound. Bora has worked with Marina Abramovic, Laurie Anderson, Anohni, Howard Shore, The Magnetic Fields, Nico Muhly, Michael Nyman, Sufjan Stevens and many others. His credits include Academy Award-winning Fog of War, the Academy Award-nominated The Illusionist, as well as the revival of Robert Wilson’s Einstein on the Beach, and the Life and Death of Marina Abramovic. Dan Bora’s live work has been praised as “deft,” “provocative and even poignant” (The New York Times).

Peter Hess (saxophones) is, in addition to the PGE, a member of Slavic Soul Party, Bang on a Can’s Asphalt Orchestra, and Barbez, and was a part of Balkan Beat Box for a decade. He appears on over 100 recordings and can often be heard coming out of your television. He performs all over the world, in concert halls, festivals, prisons, and dives. He’s appeared and/or recorded with Boston Modern Orchestra Project, David Sanborn, Alarm Will Sound, Omaha Symphony, David Byrne, American Composer’s Orchestra, Big Lazy, Guignol, Tony Visconti, Songs: Ohia, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, Tim Berne, Jabbo Ware, Jack McDuff, Dirty Projectors, Darcy Argue’s Secret Society, TV on the Radio, Spiritualized, Wu Tang Clan, ICE, the Hold Steady, Son Volt, AntiSocial Music, and dozens more. He is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and his work composing and arranging for winds and strings can be heard on many records, as well as HBO’s Bored to Death, PBS’s Make ‘em Laugh, the feature documentaries Art and Craft and Maineland: much of that arranging and studio work goes on in his own little studio Fort Saint Marks. He holds a deep love of the music of the Balkans, which he has researched and studied in Roma villages in southern Serbia. His own records (and collaborations with fellow PGE member Mick Rossi) can be found at, the label imprint he co-runs.

Ryan Kelly (stage audio) began his career at the renowned Legacy Recording Studios in New York City. Since then he has worked on live performances across five continents alongside artists including Paul Simon, Philip Glass Ensemble, Solange, Eighth Blackbird, Nico Muhly, Music and Son Lux. He began working with the Philip Glass Ensemble for the revival of Robert Wilson’s Einstein on the Beachand joined the Ensemble in 2014. Recent studio work has seen him producing film scores and recording albums with Beyoncé, Roomful of Teeth, Marc Ribot, and Booker T Jones ft. The Roots. His sound design credits include multiple shows with the Steven Petronio Company, Dream’d in a Dream with the Sean Curran Company, and The Dorothy Kwith Saint Genet ft Zac Pennington & Brian Lawlor.

Mick Rossi (keyboard) has long been defined by the inability to comfortably define his work, revealing a commitment to a strong classical foundation and rigorous approach to improvisation. Rooted in the New York Downtown scene, Rossi is celebrated as “one of the most lucid, original and creative minds of the New York scene,” “an exemplar of the cross-fertilization between jazz and classical music worlds,” and “Bartokian and energetic” (All About Jazz /The New York Times). He is simultaneously a member of the Philip Glass Ensemble and the Paul Simon Band as pianist and percussionist, showcasing not only technical proficiency but capable of divergent idiomatic disciplines. He is currently in residence at The New School and The Philip Glass Institute. Rossi can be heard on twelve recordings with Glass, and nine with Simon including Koyaanisqatsi Live with the New York Philharmonic, Einstein on the Beach and Austin City Limits respectively. Rossi has conducted for Glass, including Book of Longing (Sydney Opera House) and Dracula. New releases include Drive, Live At Barbes, Cut The Red Wire, Variant (film score), Songs From The Broken Land (“virtuosic, intense and humorous -a master improviser is at work” -All About Jazz),and his thirteenth solo album 160 (“A masterpiece difficult to label” -All About Jazz). Recent features include The Sydney Morning Herald (“A prodigiously gifted musician and composer”) and Keyboard Magazine (“Pyrotechnics with Paul Simon”).

Sam Sadigursky (soprano saxophone, flute) has been a member of the Philip Glass Ensemble since 2020. He continues to make a mark as both a leader and sideman across a broad spectrum of musical landscapes. His series of four albums of original music based on poetry and text for New Amsterdam Records, entitled The Words Project, have been acclaimed internationally. Following the 2015 release of his album Follow the Stick, he has appeared annually on the Downbeat Magazine Critics Poll. His latest work, a three album set of original music with accordionist Nathan Koci called The Solomon Diaries, was released in early 2022 on Adhyaropa Records, along with Figures/Broken Pieces, a set of original piano music released later that year. Sam has toured and recorded with artists as diverse as Brad Mehldau, Fred Hersch, Lucia Pulido, Gabriel Kahane, Tom Jones, Edmar Castaneda, Katrina Lenk, Linda Oh, The Mingus Orchestra, Rufus Reid, Jamie Baum Septet+, David Yazbek, Ljova, Pablo Mayor’s Folklore Urbano, La Cumbiamba eNeYe, and is featured on three Grammy-nominated albums with Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society as well as Taylor Eigsti’s 2021 Grammy winning album A Tree Falls. As a composer, he has also written for film and modern dance and has published four books of original etudes for clarinet and saxophone. He is the recipient of numerous grants from organizations such as Chamber Music America, ASCAP, The Jerome Foundation, and the New York Mills Cultural Center. He appears on over fifty albums as a sideman, and from 2017-2019 was the onstage clarinetist for the Grammy, Tony and Emmy Award winning show The Band’s Visit on Broadway.

Andrew Sterman (flute, piccolo, saxophone) joined the Philip Glass Ensemble since 1992, and has a highly personal presence in the music community (The New York Times: “beautiful, sensitive, and high-energy playing,” Wall Street Journal: “Powerful, standout moment”, National Post Canada: “Searing”, London Observer: “Virtuosic”). He has performed or recorded with a stunning array of artists, including Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan, Tony Bennett, Bruce Springsteen, Freddie Hubbard, Dizzy Gillespie, Fred Hersch, Rashied Ali, and countless more. He has performed in dozens of Broadway shows, often as an onstage soloist, and recorded on many significant film scores. As a composer Sterman has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts resulting in two commissions. His album The Path To Peace was called, “A major conceptual work, whose exquisite ebb and flow merits listening by a worldwide audience” (All About Jazz: New York), and “A wonderful and inspiring album” (Philip Glass). Of his Wet Paint album: “Questing, devoid of self-indulgence, emotionally flexible” (Jazz Times), “emotive lyricism, inventively architected, superb compositional pen”(JazzReview). Sterman is a noted teacher, and designer of the Wellness for Performing Artists course at the New School where he is on the faculty. He also teaches qigong and the use of food for healing, and is author of the two-volume book, Welcoming Food: Diet as Medicine for the Home Cook and Other Healers (2020, Classical Wellness Press, NYC) and teaches both music and food practice internationally as well as in New York City.