Harrison House Music, Arts & Ecology is a residency and performance program for international artists and thinkers based in the late composer Lou Harrison’s desert retreat in Joshua Tree, California. It awards great minds with the time to create and share their very best work in an historic and inspiring setting.
Tucked away in the vast desert landscape near the border of Joshua Tree National Park, the majestic composers’ cave Harrison built for himself and his friends inspires artists and audiences though this innovative program.
At the age of eighty-four, despite the death of William Colvig, his life partner of thirty-five years, Harrison built his dream home, a straw bale artist retreat in the desert. The structure features a vaulted great room proportionately designed as a superb and intimate sound environment for music which many call his last and finest instrument. Today Harrison House stands as a monument to Lou Harrison’s lifetime of experimentalism, activism, concern for the environment, and to his lifetime commitment to encouraging creativity in others.
As Lou Harrison’s close associate and a producer, director and performer of over 40 years, Eva Soltes was uniquely poised to conceive and carry out a program inspired by his creation. Upon the composer’s passing, Eva purchased the building from Lou’s longtime friend and former partner Remy Charlip who inherited it. She has decorated and furnished the house with Harrison’s own possessions and art that she inherited from him. In 2006 the Harrison House program was launched with a music performance by Terry Riley intended to honor Lou. It has since evolved into Harrison House Music, Arts & Ecology. Eva designs each residency and public offering to optimize the creative experience for both artists and audiences. An accomplished filmmaker and photographer, she also documents each program.
While Harrison’s official archive is housed at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Eva has amassed an extensive collection of video, photos documentation of his life and work, drawings and writings by the composer some of which can be seen in her documentary film, Lou Harrison: A World of Music. Her archive is likely one of the largest collections of media documentation on a single composer and sets a new precedent in documenting “treasured” artists.
Harrison House continues to expand into a complex guided by Soltes and with contributions from many artists and craft people.