Our “In the Spirit” benefit concert at Manhattan’s Town Hall October 24 was a beautiful, moving occasion. Under the artistic direction of composer Philip Glass, it celebrated the Institute’s 10th anniversary by presenting virtuoso musicians from Africa, China, South Asia, the Middle East and the West to an audience of over 1000 people who shared an intense experience and felt like a community. In his interview on WNYC’s “Leonard Lopate Show,” Glass describes his concept for the concert: it had to be global, embracing and bridging diverse cultural and spiritual traditions, reflecting the Garrison Institute’s inclusive, syncretic approach. He chose the name “In the Spirit” in honor of the late Lex Hixon, American Sufi author, poet, spiritual teacher and longtime host of the “In the Spirit” radio program on WBAI.
Glass’s WNYC interview about the concert was a kind of intellectual/aesthetic smorgasbord, reflecting on his apprenticeship to Ravi Shankar before Shankar met the Beatles, how Glass continues to learn from world musicians, how the myth of Orion (punished by Zeus with daytime blindness but left with nighttime vision) symbolizes the blindness and insight of artists, how Sufi ecstatic qawwali music shares a call-and-response structure with gospel music, and how the Garrison Institute connects diverse contemplative traditions and ideas and brings them to bear on social change.