HMC Concert Series: The HMC American Gamelan, “Lou Harrison- A Birthday Tribute”

November 12, 2017 Add to Calendar

7 p.m.


Shanahan Center, Drinkward Recital Hall
320 E. Foothill Blvd.
Claremont, CA 91711


Julia Hong


Drinkward Recital Hall, 320 East Foothill Boulevard, Claremont

Harvey Mudd College presents
The HMC American Gamelan, "Lou Harrison: A Birthday Tribute"

Pianist Aron Kallay and cellist Maggie Parkins join the bells and gongs of the HMC American Gamelan to honor the centennial of composer Lou Harrison.

Ladrang Epikuros for gamelan (1981) by Lou Harrison
Sikala-Niskala for piano and gamelan (1998) by Bill Alves
Gending Cavafy for gamelan (1980) by Lou Harrison
Solo for Tenor Bells (1972) by Lou Harrison
A Little Gamelan for Katherine Litz (1952) by Lou Harrison
A Glyph for prepared piano (1951) by Lou Harrison
Concerto for piano and Javanese gamelan, movement 2 (1987) by Lou Harrison
Elegy for Lou Harrison for cello and gamelan (2003) by Bill Alves

This program is one of a series honoring the centennial of Lou Harrison (1917-2003), one of the great American composers of the twentieth century and a pioneer in the art of cultural hybrids and alternate tunings. As a young man in California he studied with Henry Cowell and Arnold Schoenberg and with his friend John Cage established the first concert series devoted to new music for percussion. In 1943, Harrison moved to New York, where he made a name for himself as a composer, critic, and conductor, premiering the Third Symphony of Charles Ives. However, to escape the stress and noise of the city, he moved back to California in 1953, where his relative isolation was the perfect environment to study his new interests, Asian music and just intonation. In the 1960s he traveled to Asia, studying Korean and Chinese music. In the 1970s, he began studying and performing Javanese gamelan music, and in the last decades of his life, the world began to catch up with Lou Harrison, who by the time of his death was recorded on dozens of CDs and was the subject of many festivals and tributes. In 2001 he was the guest of honor at the MicroFest conference here in Claremont.

Lou Harrison was first entranced with the bell-like tones of the Javanese gamelan orchestra as a young man in the 1930s and this infatuation continued as he studied Asian music in the 1950s and 60s. Unwilling to wait until he had access to such instruments, Harrison and his partner Bill Colvig built their own version of a gamelan, which they called an "American Gamelan" in the early 1970s. Finally, in the summer of 1974, he had the opportunity to study and play a traditional Javanese gamelan in Berkeley California, and soon after he met one of the great Javanese masters of this music, Ki K. P. H. Wasitodiningrat, familiarly known as Pak Cokro. It was Pak Cokro who first encouraged Harrison that he write for the Javanese gamelan, and Harrison soon began turning out a large body of works for the ensemble. In these works he often reflected the ideal meeting of East and West by including Western instruments in concerto or concerto-like forms. By the 1980s he would say that if he had his way, he would never compose for any other medium, although he would when commissions began to follow his increasing fame.

The HMC American Gamelan at MicroFest, the Southern California festival of microtonal music, on May 6, 2012