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It has been described in The New York Times as everything from "apocalyptic" to "strangely celebratory," and tonight and tomorrow it will be playing at Irvine Auditorium. The Annenberg Center and Relache -- an ensemble for contemporary music -- will present Koyaanisqatsi -- Live, a live production of Godfrey Reggio's 1983 film. The acclaimed work normally features recorded orchestration and images to emphasize the beauty of nature. But tonight, an 11-piece ensemble will perform the score by composer Philip Glass, adding a new dimension to the sensory experience. "The film and music together are very dynamic; [live performance] brings it to another emotional level," Glass said in a telephone interview Friday. "We've rediscovered a genre that's been forgotten since before the talkies of the thirties, [when] there were lots of symphonic arrangements to accompany movies." Presently on tour throughout the northeast, the ensemble has performed Koyaanisqatsi live together approximately 50 times. Since the first concert in 1987, the film's popularity has steadily increased. "The film was ahead of its time, really," the composer added. "I think [director] Godfrey was a real prophet." The musician added that the movie's relavence has increased with the growth of environmental concerns. "When people first saw it, I think they thought Godfrey was some kind of aging hippie," Glass said. "[But after] eight years of public discussion about the ozone layer, the ecosystem, the Amazon being destroyed, I think people are extremely tuned into the subject matter now," Glass said. "I thought at first that it was too abstract a movie, and I was proved wrong." Koyaanisqatsi, a Hopi Indian word for "life out of balance," is the the first in Reggio's expressive trilogy. Next year, Glass expects to tour Powaqqatsi, the second film -- which was released in 1988. Translated as "sorcerer life," the production reveals the life-force behind man's actions as individuals and a society. Reggio and Glass are still in search of funding for the third film, to be titled Naqoyaqqatsi, or "Life is war." Glass said the team is exploring several options abroad. "America just generally has never been heavy on funding the arts, and what little we have is disappearing," said Glass. "Americans don't want to put money into it because it doesn't have a fast enough economic turnover." The abstract nature of the film hasn't attracted widespread mainstream success, but it does tie in with this year's "New Music at Annenberg" series. Judy Weiss, Annenberg's marketing director, defined the series as highlighting "anything experimental and modern, but not necessarily related." "The opportunity to hear the music live, or to see the film for the first time, will introduce either [type of fan] to something new," Weiss said. In addition to Koyaanisqatsi, Annenberg will present performance artist Diamanda Galas in April and a saxophone opera by Julius Hemphill in June. Koyaanisqatsi -- Live will be presented at Irvine Auditorium tonight and tomorrow at 8 p.m. For more information, call the Annenberg Center Box Office at 898-6791.

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