Philip Glass’s Occupy Wall Street Participation Was Very Stage-Managed

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Philip Glass attends BAM 2011 Next Wave Gala at BAM Harvey Theater on December 6, 2011 in New York City.
Glass. Photo: Robin Marchant/Getty Images

When Philip Glass joined a crowd of Occupy Wall Street protestors last Thursday at Lincoln Center, it wasn't on a whim. "It looked spontaneous, and it was supposed to, but those things are very well planned," the composer revealed to Daily Intel last night at BAM's Next Wave Festival gala. When Glass realized there was a kinship between his opera Satyagraha (or Truth Force) — which concerns the early life of Gandhi and is about "social change and non-violence" — and the Occupy cause, he hooked up with Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson to plan a reading after the opera concluded its run at the Met.

Just a few minutes after taking his bow at the curtain call, Glass came outside — where demonstrators were shouting, "The opera is your life!" and, "Join us!" to exiting operagoers — to make his cameo, in which he participated in the call-and-response style of the People's Mic with an excerpt from the "New Castle March" section of his work:

When righteousness
Withers away
And evil
Rules the Land
We come into being
Age after age
And take visible shape
And Move
A man among men
For the protection
Of good
Thrusting back evil
And setting virtue
On her seat again

"For the first time in a long time, the streets of New York and the stage of the opera house were the same," Glass said of his participation.

Glass hopes to do more to support OWS in the near future. "I personally think between now and the election, that could be a significant voice," he said. "You know, these elections can be won by one or two votes. It starts with the kids, and older people are getting involved with it — people who want to see real change. There are going to be a lot of voices in the election, and this is going to be one of them."