Until 27 January 2027

Philip Glass: Symphony No. 3

A train emerges from the darkness. Passengers rest, quietly look out the windows, and dream their own worlds into existence. The landscape outside twists, turns and renews. Slowly, the hum of the urban world starts to appear.

In this 15-minute music video, the pulsing throb of the final movements of Philip Glass’s Symphony No. 3 subsumes the rhythm of the train-tracks. Press play and join Scottish Ensemble and senior players from the National Youth Orchestras of Scotland on a train ride fuelled by musical steam.

This film was created in Covid-19 secure, socially-distanced conditions in autumn 2020, and will be available to view until January 2023, for free.

As part of our year-round work with young people, we support the next generation of pre-professional string players to explore new ways to perform and share the classical repertoire. This collaboration with NYOS gave seven young players the opportunity to experience the process of creating a short film and to be part of our cutting-edge digital work – which looks to find a new filmic language for classical music.

  • Philip Glass
    Symphony No. 3

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Director's Note

By Sven Werner

This project has been a real joy for me. Being a serious Philip Glass fan myself I was delighted when this commission was brought to my attention. I spent several days listening to the two movements of Symphony No 3, allowing myself to enter that meditative poetic trance-like state Glass’s music so beautifully evokes sometimes and letting images wash over me.

Movement III eventually turned into a mysterious train journey in my head, the steady slow building hypnotic pulse propelling us through the night but where to, that was still the question. Scottish Ensemble mentioned how this performance was the first time they all emerged from several months of lockdown and come together as musicians again and so the dynamic frenetic energy of Movement IV transpired into a journey towards people – after crossing solitary desolate and seemingly endless landscapes, the morning sun lights a train that arrives in the city, the music spreading through the windows across the streets and turning heads triggering surprised smiles and nods.

The musicians welcomed the ideas and there was real excitement from the start. A beautiful process unfolded between the film crew and Scottish Ensemble, in particular with its Artistic Director Jonathan Morton, who helped guide us through the various musical dynamics within the movements making sure we know where to put our attention at various points in the piece. Everyone on the team was flexible and in good spirits, even after having to manoeuvre heavy instruments in and out of a narrow train set, wearing masks and complying to a 2 metre distancing policy. My biggest challenge was not to let myself sink into the wonderfully performed music every time they started playing on set and focus on the filming instead.

Scottish Ensemble

  • Violin
    Jonathan Morton, Kate Suthers, Daniel Pioro, Liza Johnson, Donald Grant, Joanne Green, Laura Ghiro
  • Viola
    Jane Atkins, Andrew Berridge
  • Cello
    Alison Lawrance, Robert Anderson
  • Bass
    Diane Clark


  • Violin
    Briona Mannion, Daniel Stroud, Sagnick Mukherjee
  • Viola
    Gordon Cervoni, Eilidh Randall
  • Cello
    Freya Ruuskanen
  • Bass
    Manuel D’Amico

Production Team

  • Director/Animation
    Sven Werner
  • Executive Producer
    John Archer for Hopscotch Films
  • Producer
    David Brown for Hopscotch Films
  • Music Director
    Jonathan Morton
  • Director of Photography
    Alan C. McLaughlin
  • Sound Design/Engineer
    Jonathan Green
  • Audio Production Assistant
    Sam McErlean
  • Editor
    Lucy Armitage
  • Production Assistant
    Kenni Campbell
  • Gaffer
    Graham Colvan
  • Digital Imaging Technician
    Derek Gereg
  • Set Construction
    Allan McQuade, Neil Rutherford, Ursule Kerbedyte
  • Filmed at
    16 Nicholson Street Gallery, Glasgow
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