|Lou Harrison in 1940|
The San Francisco Bay area, where Harrison grew up, was the center of an arts renaissance during the Great Depression, as federal and other support nourished a thriving counterculture. The 20-year-old Harrison soon got a job composing for theater and dance at Mills College in Oakland, where he would be called upon to provide new works at a rate that astonished his good friend and fellow experimenter John Cage. Encouraged by Cowell, Harrison used these productions to try out new ideas in melody, modes, rhythm, and percussion. Percussion music especially attracted Harrison and Cage, for whom it became at once a source of new sounds and a way to get their music played without having to depend on the conservative classical music establishment. Together, they scoured hardware stores, Chinatown shops, and junkyards to build up a shared orchestra to use both in their dance scores and a groundbreaking series of percussion-only concerts.
|Lou Harrison (playing gong), John Cage |
and their percussion ensemble in 1940
|Louise Kloepper in 1938|
|The Varied Trio ensemble: Shalini Vijayan, violin, |
Aron Kallay, piano, Yuri Inoo, percussion
|Pianist Sarah Cahill|
The virtues of clarity and simplicity echo throughout the rest of his career, and this concert will also feature late works, including his entrancing Varied Trio, the namesake of the LA ensemble, and his Summerfield Set, a keyboard suite that still echoes with reverberations of the young Californian’s music four decades earlier.