Musicians in Glass Houses

Well, that's what you'll see if all the instruments make it to their destination in one piece. Getting instruments transported safely from one gig to another makes the Glass Orchestra a tough band to take on tour. Although they have played in places as far away as Thailand, a performance outside their home of Toronto is rare. "One time while we were on tour in Taiwan, we were convinced that we had shipped the glass by air cargo," recalls Hodge. "And as we were standing around waiting for our luggage, out came a bunch of boxes with all our stuff in them. We had to do a lot of running around to department stores to get replacements."

(Capturing the pure, piercing sound of glass exactly right on a recording has been even more difficult. In 1989, after several years of preparation, the orchestra was finally able to harness the radical frequency ranges of glass and release the CD Human.)

This Friday expect to witness two sets, each lasting approximately a half-hour. Some of the works performed by the ensemble are written down, but most are improvised on the spot. "When we write our compositions, we just work through phrases and sounds we like," Hodge explains. "Often the score becomes more verbal. The piece rarely comes out exactly the same twice. It's almost like playing free jazz."

Just don't attend expecting to hear tinkly versions of familiar tunes. "We try to stay away from pop," notes Hodge. "It's just not what we do. We were all pretty much raised listening to and performing classical music. You wouldn't go to a symphony concert and ask the great violinist Yehudi Menhuin to play 'Feelings,' would you?"

The Glass Orchestra performs at 8:00 p.m. on Friday, March 20, at the Ambrosino Gallery, 3095 SW 39th Ave.; 445-2211. Tickets cost $20.

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