Philip Glass Ensemble

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The Philip Glass Ensemble is a musical group founded by composer Philip Glass in 1968 to serve as a performance outlet for his experimental minimalist music. The Ensemble's instrumentation became a hallmark of Glass's early minimalist style. After Glass wrote his first opera, Einstein on the Beach, for the Ensemble in 1976, he began to compose for other instrumentation more frequently, but he still retains the core ensemble instrumentation.

While the Ensemble's instrumentation has varied over the years, it has generally consisted of amplified woodwinds (typically saxophones, flutes, and bass clarinet) keyboard synthesizers, and solo soprano voice (singing solfege). The Philip Glass Ensemble continues to perform and record, under the musical direction of keyboardist Michael Riesman.

In 2011 individuals from the ensemble performed a series of concerts in an installation at the Museum of Modern Art in the Temple of Dendur exhibit. The group continues to perform around the world and will continue to present Glass's works. From 2012 until late 2015 the ensemble has presented, along with many other performers, a revival of Einstein on the Beach which opened in Montpellier, France in 2012. The production has played London, Reggio Emilia, Toronto, Brooklyn, Berkeley, Paris, Amsterdam, L.A. and other international cities. The revival production of EoB had it's final performance in South Korea in October of 2015.

In 2013 the ensemble began to perform Glass's opera, "La Belle et Le Bête" again. The opera is set to the visuals of the 1946 Jean Cocteau film, with the help of four vocalists. In early September of 2014 the ensemble performed with Steve Reich and Musicians at the Brooklyn Academy of Music's "Next Wave Festival." It had been over thirty years since Glass and Reich had shared a stage.


  • Michael Riesman, keyboards
  • Philip Glass, keyboards
  • Jon Gibson, woodwinds
  • Dan Dryden, audio engineer
  • Eleanor Sandresky, keyboards
  • Nelson Padgett, keyboards
  • Ted Baker, keyboards
  • Lisa Bielawa, voice
  • Andrew Sterman, woodwinds
  • Mick Rossi, percussion, keyboards
  • Frank Cassara, percussion
  • David Crowell, woodwinds
  • Dan Bora, audio engineer

Featured Vocalists in "La Belle et Le Bête":

  • Gregory Purnhagen, baritone
  • Peter Stewart, bass
  • Marie Mascari, soprano
  • Hai-Ting Chin, mezzo-soprano
  • Alexandra Montano, mezzo-soprano (deceased)
  • Janice Felty, mezzo-soprano (still active in the opera world)
  • Anna-Maria Martinez, soprano (still active in the opera world)

Former Ensemble Members:

  • Stephen Erb, audio engineer (retired)
  • Martin Goldray, keyboards (retired)
  • Richard Peck, woodwinds (retired)
  • Jack Kripl, woodwinds (retired)
  • Richard Landry, woodwinds (retired)
  • Joan La Barbara, voice (retired)
  • Iris Hiskey, voice (retired)
  • Dora Ohrenstein, voice (retired)
  • Kurt Munkacsi, audio engineer (now producer)