On May 14, 2017, Harrison House hosted an unprecedented 24-hour live interactive streaming celebration honoring the residency’s namesake composer on his 100th birthday. A global day of art and conservation held on the Harrison House campus in Joshua Tree, California from midnight to midnight hosted an eclectic mix of musicians, artists, ecologists and friends from across the country. Inside and out, compelling musical performances interspersed with film screenings, tree plantings, musings and minglings, highlighting Lou’s original compositions, passions and indelible artistic legacy:
“MADE OF GIRDERS FROM THE OAKLAND BAY BRIDGE BY BAY AREA SCULPTOR MARK BULWINKLE, THE GATE HAD ITS DEDICATION JUST THAT MORNING, BECOMING AN INSTANT LANDMARK…”
– MARK SWED, LOS ANGELES TIMES
WE ARE THRILLED TO ANNOUNCE the official installation of Harrison House’s repurposed Bay Bridge steel “Centennial Art Gate,” designed by Mark Bulwinkle, Bay Area artist and longtime friend of Lou, in collaboration with Eva Soltes. Made from the steel sourced from the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge demolition, the project was awarded to the Harrison House as part of “The Bay Bridge Steel Program for Creative Reuse in Civic and Public Art Projects.” Designed exclusively for the Harrison House in commemoration of Lou’s 100th, Harrison House is offering a unique donation opportunity for supporters: Have your name engraved on the Centennial Entry Gate plaque in perpetuity.
William & Sasha Anawalt
Joseph & Mary Fiore
Mark Saltzman & Walter Hubert
Kurz Family Foundation
Sukey Lilienthal & David Roe
Steve Gorn & Barbara Bash
Gary & Kirsten Cook
Helen & Raj Desai
Patti Noel Deuter
Roy E. Hoyer
Margaret Fisher & Robert Hughes
Louise R. Ledeen
Lawrence B. London
Tandy Beal & Jonathan Scoville
Harvey L. Smith
Glamping @ The Aerie
Joshua Tree Astronomy Arts Theater
Joshua Tree Coffee Company
Joshua Tree Health Foods
Joshua Tree Mountain Vista Vacation Rental
Joshua Tree Music Festival
Joshua Tree Workshops
Mojave Desert Land Trust
The Raven House
December 9 &10, 2016:
San Francisco Symphony Sound Box Lou Harrison Centennial Concert
Eva Soltes, Harrison House Director, served as the Music Consultant/Filmmaker, providing visuals for the San Francisco Symphony’s two day celebration concert for Lou Harrisons’ centennial. The smashing success was an incredible launch to Lou’s Centennial year:
San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Classical Voice
The Mercury News
For info: •SF SoundBox•
June 13, 2017:
Los Angeles Philharmonic and The Industry presentation
of Lou Harrison’s opera Young Caesar at Disney Hall, Los Angeles
Eva Soltes, Harrison House Director, was the Dramaturge of this production. Lou Harrison first conceived Young Caesar as a puppet opera in 1972, and continued adding to it for three decades, turning it into a staged production that he never lived to see. During the 1980s he composed choral pieces for the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus production. And in the late 1990’s he was commissioned by the Lincoln Center Festival to write arias for a production that never came to fruition. After Harrison’s death, Nicole Paiement conducted a version with students from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and UC Santa Cruz. The full opera’s was honored with its first professional production performed by The Los Angeles Philharmonic/ The Industry, directed by Yuval Sharon and conducted by Marc Lowenstein. This newly commissioned version of the opera by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and The Industry was in association with Harrison House Music, Arts & Ecology.
For info: • LAPHIL •
—The New Yorker Magazine
More than sixty years ago composer, environmentalist, and gay icon Lou Harrison (1917 – 2003) quietly began his own musical revolution. With superb craftsmanship, he combined a reverence for world cultures, a passionate belief in social equity and a love of melody and beauty in all its forms, to create his own world of music.
In over 300 compositions for western, eastern, and custom-made instruments, Lou Harrison wrote for symphony orchestra, ballet, small chamber ensembles and soloists. He was a musical innovator, and a visionary in the truest sense, tirelessly knocking on the door of possibility. Michael Tilson Thomas acknowledged Harrison’s mastery by commissioning him to compose Parade for M.T.T., the first piece of music Tilson Thomas conducted as Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony. Performers such as Keith Jarrett, Yo-Yo Ma, The Mark Morris Dance Group, and Dennis Russell Davies also premiered Harrison’s music.
Beyond his myriad musical accomplishments, Harrison’s outspoken, lifelong involvement in political activism—ranging from pre-Stonewall gay rights and early civil rights, to pacifism and countless environmental causes—garnered him icon status in many communities. He was recognized with countless awards including membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Humanitarian of the Year by the American Humanist Association, the Michael Callen Medal of Achievement from the Gay/Lesbian American Music Awards (GLAMA), and Musical America’s 2002 Composer of the Year.
Born in Portland, Oregon in 1917, Lou Harrison’s earliest musical training took place in the San Francisco of the 1920’s, where he often heard Chinese Opera. By the mid 1930’s Harrison’s teacher and mentor Henry Cowell introduced him to John Cage. They formed a life-long friendship and together scoured San Francisco’s Chinatown in search of percussion instruments for their music ensemble. By the 1940’s Harrison, Cage, Merce Cunningham, and Henry Cowell all relocated to New York. A turbulent decade saw Harrison achieve success as a composer and music critic, under the wing of Virgil Thomson, conductor and teacher at the legendary Black Mountain College.
Lou Harrison returned to the west coast In 1953, and settled permanently in the coastal town of Aptos, California. There he isolated himself from the pressures of having a career in music, and indulged in the pleasures of following his own artistic dreams. Inspired by the writings of Harry Partch, Harrison experimented freely with different tuning systems. The hauntingly beautiful sounds of the Indonesian gamelan led him to create, with his life-partner William Colvig , “An American Gamelan,” a custom-built collection of tuned percussion instruments.