Bill Alves & friends salute Lou Harrison, the quintessential California composer, on his 100th birthday.
Alves, the co-author of the upcoming Lou Harrison biography Lou Harrison: American Music Maverik, brings his unique Indoneisan gamelan insutrments to Boston Court to celebrate the centennial of the American master of non-Western music.
Lou Harrison lived his first nine years in Portland, Oregon, where he was born in May 14, 1917. Residences since then include Central California, Los Angeles, New York City (ten years), North Carolina, the San Francisco Bay region, Oaxaca, New Zealand, and the Monterey Bay region where he lives now. His studies were with Howard Cooper, Henry Cowell, Arnold Schoenberg, and Virgil Thomson. He is the recipient of several grants and awards, including Guggenheim and Rockefeller Fellowships. Mr. Harrison has established himself as one of the most original and important American composers of the 20th century.
As Mr. Harrison likes to point out, American composers must often do other things to support themselves. Among these he has been a record salesman, an animal nurse, a journalist, a florist, a forestry firefighter, and dance accompanist. He is a poet, painter, calligrapher, and type face designer in addition to being a composer. He has helped to introduce the Indonesian gamelan to the United States and, with William Colvig, has constructed two large gamelans now in use at San Jose State University and Mills College.
Ned Rorem has said, "Lou Harrison's compositions demonstrate a variety of means and techniques. In general he is a melodist. Rhythm has a significant place in his work, too. Harmony is unimportant, although tonality is. He is one of the first American composers to successfully create a workable marriage between Eastern and Western forms."
Lou Harrison passed away Sunday evening, February 2, 2003, on his way to attend a festival of his music at Ohio State University at Columbus.
Bill Alves is a composer, writer, and video artist based in Southern California. He has written extensively for conventional acoustic instruments, non-Western instruments (especially Indonesian gamelan) and electronic media, often integrated with abstract animation. CDs of his audio works include The Terrain of Possibilities (EMF) and Imbal-Imbalan (Spectral Harmonies), and a dvd of his video works, Celestial Dance is published by the Kinetica Video Library. He is the author of the book Music of the Peoples of the World, the third edition of which was released by Cengage/Schirmer in Spring 2012. Other writings have appeared in Organised Sound, Perspectives of New Music, Computer Music Journal, SEAMUS Journal, 1/1, and elsewhere. In 1993-94 he was a Fulbright Senior Scholar Fellow in Indonesia, where he studied the gamelan orchestra music of Java and Bali. He currently directs the HMC American Gamelan, an ensemble of specially tuned Javanese instruments dedicated to the performance of new, non-traditional music. He is one of the organizers of MicroFest, the annual Southern California festival of new music in alternate tunings. He teaches at Harvey Mudd College of the Claremont Colleges in Southern California.