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Lou Harrison MP3

The wayback machine that is the Other Minds catalog at the Internet Archive (aka archive.org) has set its dial to May 14, 1977, when a concert at St. John’s Presbyterian Church in Berkeley, California, celebrated the 60th birthday of composer Lou Harrison, who would have turned 90 this year (MP3). The recording was originally broadcast on Los Angeles radio KPFK, and was the inaugural show of the Imaginary Landscape radio series, cohosted by composer Carl Stone, then 24 years old, and Leni Isaacs. The nearly two-hour segment includes biographical information and several Harrison performances including, as identified in the archive.org descriptive text, “Song of Quetzalcoatl,” “Double Music” (composed by Harrison and John Cage, whose own “Imaginary Landscape” lent its name to the radio series), “Suite for Cello and Harp,” “Happy Birthday,” “Canticle No. 1,” “Fugue,” “In Praise of Johnny Appleseed,” “Cinna” and “Schoenbergiana.”

The concert was produced by composers Paul Dresher, Peter Garland and Rae Imamura. “Quetzalcoatl,” “Double Music” and “Appleseed” (the latter in its 1976 revision of the original 1942 score) are of particular interest, feats that they are of loose percussion counterpoint. The dreamy “Cinna” (1954-55), considered one of the first pieces written for prepared piano (in this case a retuned tack piano), was performed by Imamura; as with all the pieces heard here, it’s given a brief and informative musicological introduction by the show’s hosts. “Cinna” can also be heard, thanks to archive.org, in a rendition performed by Linda Burman-Hall at an 85th birthday celebration for Harrison in February 2002, a year before he passed away (MP3).

By Marc Weidenbaum

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  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media

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