‘Book of Longing’ leaves feeling of longing

Stanford Lively Arts kicked off its 2007-08 season Tuesday night in Memorial Auditorium with the West Coast premiere of “Book of Longing,” a composition by Philip Glass based on poetry by Leonard Cohen. Both artists attended the highly anticipated program.

The 100-minute performance offered up a sometimes funny, sometimes profound, sometimes perplexing mix of music, singing, spoken word and imagery focusing on Cohen’s themes of love, lust, disappointment and reflections on life.

Glass conducted and played keyboards; his ensemble of musicians playing saxophone, oboe, cello, bass and keyboards created some gorgeous instrumental solos (the highlight of the performance), while the vocalists’ efficiently spanned classical and new music in their interpretations of the nearly two dozen “songs” that make up the piece. The prologue and epilogue featured compelling voiceovers by Cohen himself.

Illustrations by Cohen, mostly portraits, projected at the back of the stage made for a dense melange of sounds and sights that didn’t truly come together as a cohesive unit after seeing and hearing it just one time.

While individual moments of the work spurred myriad thoughts and memories, the piece also raised lots of questions, and, in the end, a feeling of a need for resolution.

artsentertainmentOther Arts

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Although The City has been shut down and largely empty, people have enjoyed gathering in places such as Dolores Park. <ins>(Al Saracevic/The Examiner)</ins>
Come back to San Francisco: The City needs you now

Time to get out of the house, people. The City’s been lonely… Continue reading

A surveillance camera outside Macy’s at Union Square on Tuesday, July 28, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Is the tide turning against surveillance cameras in SF?

Crime-fighting camera networks are springing up in commercial areas all around San… Continue reading

San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott speaks alongside Mayor London Breed at a news conference about 2019 crime statistics at SFPD headquarters on Jan. 21, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
What the media gets wrong about crime in San Francisco

By Lincoln Mitchell Special to The Examiner Seemingly every day now, you… Continue reading

Vice President Kamala Harris is under fire for her comments in Guatemala earlier this week. (Examiner file photo.)
SF immigration advocates slam Kamala Harris’ ‘betrayal’ to her past

Kamala Harris’ comments earlier this week discouraging Central Americans from traveling to… Continue reading

Youth activists with the Sunrise Movement march along a rural road during their two-week trek from Paradise to San Francisco to call attention to an increase in deadly wildfires as a result of climate change on June 2, 2021. (Photo by Brooke Anderson)
Weeks-long climate march culminates on the Golden Gate Bridge

Lola’s alarm goes off most mornings before dawn. The 17-year-old high school… Continue reading

Most Read