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Saturday, April 15, 2017 8:00 pm Littlefield Concert Hall


Presented by the Mills Performing Group and Thingamajigs

Program includes:
Lou Harrison


Music by Lou Harrison
Performers: Margaret Fisher, Stassa Morgan-Shank


Jahla in the form of a Ductia to please Leopold Stokowski on his 90th Birthday
Performers: Elvyn Blair, Margaret Fisher, Robert Hughes, Claudia Naganuma, Bob Saito, Brenda Stine, Toyoji Tomita

Lou Harrison:
From the Varied Trio
Rondeau in Honor of Fragonard
From the Grand Duo
David Abel: violin, Julie Steinberg: piano

Edward Schocker:
Hymn for Lou & Bill
Dylan Bolles: Bamboo flute
Soo Yeon Jyuh: Haegeum

Stephen Parris:
New Work for Pipa and Javanese Gamelan
Sophia Shen: pipa
Gamelan Encinal directed by Stephen Parris
(Commissioned by Thingamajigs as part of "Harrison 100 / Thingamajigs 20 project” -a project that celebrates Lou Harrison’s centennial and Thingamajigs 20th anniversary.)

Henry Cowell:
Persian Set for Chamber Orchestra

Lou Harrison:
Suite for Violin, Piano, and Small Orchestra

Mills Performing Group
Steed Cowart: conductor, Hrabba Atladottir: solo violin, Kate Campbell: solo piano, Stacey Pelinka: flute, Bethanne Walker: flute, Jesse Barrett: oboe, Sophie Huet: clarinet, Travis John Andrews: tar, Meredith Clark: harp, William Winant: percussion, George Hayes: violin, Mia Bella D’Augelli: violin, Hannah Addario-Berry: cello, Crystal Pascucci: cello, Kristin Zoernig: contra bass, Regina Schaffer: celesta, Brett Carson: tack piano

Lou Harrison (1917–2003) studied composition with Henry Cowell and Arnold Schoenberg. He had a long personal and artistic association with John Cage dating back as far as the 1930s and 1940s when the two composers performed and taught at various times at Mills College. Harrison collaborated with many choreographers, including Bonnie Bird, Carol Beals, Tina Flade, Marian van Tuyl, and Lester Horton. In 1937 he was engaged by Mills College as a dance accompanist and also taught courses in composition for the dance at its summer sessions. In 1943 Harrison moved to New York where he and Virgil Thomson worked as music critics for the Herald Tribune for which he wrote more than three hundred reviews. Harrison was editor for New Music Editions, a seminal collection of scores documenting early twentieth-century American experimentalist music. In 1946 he conducted the first complete performance of Charles Ives’ Third Symphony, thirty-eight years after it was composed. He was offerred a teaching position at Black Mountain College in 1951. Harrison returned to California in 1953, where he began to focus on non-Western musical traditions; many of his works from that point on mixed traditional Western instruments with instruments from around the world. His compositions  employed Chinese, Korean and Indonesian instruments as well as Western instruments and those of his own construction. He also has had a life-long interest in tuning systems, especially just intonation. Harrison met his partner Bill Colvig (1917–2000) in 1967. Colvig was an amateur musician, who was a skilled electrician and worked with Harrison on his instrument-building projects and tuning experiments. In 1980 Harrison returned to teach once again at Mills where he held the Darius Milhud Chair in Composition (1980) and the Mary Woods Bennnet Chair (1981–83). At Mills, with the help of percussionist William Winant and Bill Colvig, he built the gamelan Si Darius and Si Madeleine in honor of the French composer Darius Milhaud and his wife Madeleine Milhaud, both of whom served on the Mills College faculty. Mills presented Harrision with an honarary doctoratei n 1988 and in 1990 he was Mills’ first Jean MacDuff Vaux composer in residence.

From his earliest years in San Francisco, Harrison was an outspoken advocate of multiculturalism, ecological responsibility and pacifism in both his writings and musical compositions and was also politically active in the gay rights movement. His musical output is both rich and varied. During the second World War, he composed percussion music and helped organize performances of similar works by Cage, Russell, Roldán, and many others. He wrote symphonies, chamber works, and music using both Eastern and Western instrumentation. Harrison was a polymath—he was an instrumnent  builder, worked as a dancer and a dance critic, painted, wrote poetry, studied calligraphy, signing, and Esperanto. Harrision composed in a wide variety of musical styles throughout his career, but a common factor was his melodic gift—an expression of the profound humanism at the core of his aesthetic and social philosophy.

The musical community at Mills College was blessed with a special relationship with Lou on both artistic and personal levels. His work has inspired generations of Mills faculty and students. He was also our very dear friend and we can not imagine a more appropriate expression of our gratitude and love than tonight’s concert of Lou’s wonderful music in honor of what would have been his 100th birthday.


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Keywords: Mills College

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