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Lou Harrison: Drums Along the Pacific
featuring performances by David Abel, Dennis Russell davies, Leta Miller, Geraldine Walther, William Winant, Jennifer Cass, Joel Davel, Scott Evans, Carla Fabrizio, David Johnson, Daniel Kennedy, Todd Manley, Sam Ospovat, David Rosenthal, Gordon Smith, Julie Steinberg and Robert Strizich
New Albion Records (NA 122)

"During the last two years an extraordinary interest in percussion music has developed on the Pacific coast," wrote Henry Cowell in "Drums Along the Pacific" (1940). "In Seattle, San Francisco, Oakland and Los Angeles, orchestras have been formed to play music for percussion instruments alone.. . directed
chiefly by two young Western composers, John Cage and Lou Harrison, who have concocted innumerable creations. . . and have induced others.. . to write for them." What Cowell omitted from this account was his own influence: his writings and teachings provided the impetus for the percussion works of both composers.

The story of Harrison and Cage's meeting and subsequent collaboration is inextricably linked to the history of percussion music. In 1938 Cage came to San Francisco to meet Harrison, on Cowell's advice. Within minutes, the two composers had discovered common interests in percussion and dance. Harrison soon began to introduce Cage to his circle of friends, among them dancer Bonnie Bird, who had offered Harrison a position in Seattle accompanying her classes at the Cornish School. But Harrison was happily ensconced at Mills College, playing piano and percussion for dancer Tina Flade. Instead he recommended Cage, who moved to Seattle, attracted by Bird's tales about a closet full of percussion instruments. During his two years there, Cage solicited works from composers around the country, including Harrison, who wrote Fifth Simfony and Counterdance in the Spring for the Seattle ensemble...
— Leta Miller

© 2002 John Fago
Lou Harrison (May 14, 1917- Feb 2, 2003) grew up on the West Coast. In 1926 his family moved from Portland, Oregon, to Northern California, where they
lived in nine different cities during the next eight years. After graduating from Burlingame High School in December 1934, Harrison enrolled at San Francisco State College (now University), but studied there only two years until he was enticed into other endeavors, including the job at Mills.

In Spring 1935, Harrison enrolled in Cowell's course, "Music of the Peoples of the World," at the University of California Extension in San Francisco. Cowell taught that most of the world's music consisted of a melodic line with rhythmic accompaniment, noting that Western composers had neglected the possibilities of rhythm and melody to worship instead at the altar of harmony. Harrison was fascinated. In Fall 1935 he approached Cowell for private composition lessons. Cowell taught him to work with small germinal cells — both melodic and rhythmic — interweaving them in complex patterns. He also urged Harrison to explore new instrumental resources. "Henry encouraged us to forage through
junkyards," Harrison recalls... (excerpted from Leta Miller's notes for the CD)

  I'll buy it!  
Track list of Drums Along the Pacific: Music by Lou Harrison

1 Threnody for Carlos Chavez (1978)
(Geraldine Walther, viola)

2 Simfony # 13 (1941)
(William Winant Percussion Group)
Music for Violin with Various Instruments (1967, revised 1969)
(David Abel, violin)
3 I Allegro, Vigoroso 3:38
4 II Largo 4:15
5 III Allegro Moderato 3:16
6 Fugue (1942)
(William Winant Percussion Group)
7 Song of Quetzalcóatl (1941)
(William Winant Percussion Group)
8 Canticle # 3 (1942)
(Dennis Russell Davies, conductor, Leta Miller, ocarina, Robert Strizich, guitar)
9 Solo to Anthony Cirone (1972)
(William Winant, tenor bells)