“In the middle of the last century, Lou Harrison and John Cage were trying to find other music outside the classical tradition. They found everyday objects had interesting sounds; for example, if you rub a wineglass a certain way, it creates a very beautiful drone,” explained Foster Reed, president of New Albion Records, based in Tivoli, which is producing the concert.
Harrison’s gamelan mainly consists of different objects from the manufactured postwar era, such as springs, brake drums, tongued and toothed gears, car doors and oxygen and propane tanks, along with goblets and other resonant glass artifacts. (Harrison named his percussive ensemble a gamelan, because that’s what the word means in Indonesian.) His American gamelan resides today at the University of Santa Cruz, but percussionist Richard Cook created a modern version of the original, which was shipped from his home in Colorado to Boston, where it resides with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project. It’s that gamelan that will be deployed at the Bard concert.
Each of the six players – one of whom is William Winant, a world-famous percussionist who is flying in from California – will play an array of instruments. One piece, Suite for Violin and American Gamelan, features the gamelan accompanied by violinist Krista Bennian Feeney, while La Koro Sutro incorporates a more monumental sound, contributed by the 100 voices of the Riverside Choral Society, a harp and pump organ accompanying the gamelan. Patrick Gardner conducts both pieces. The third piece, Solo to Anthony Cirone, which had been lost until its recent discovery by New Albion as part of a recording project, will be performed by Winant.
Harrison’s methods were outside-the-box, but that did not detract from the accessibility of his compositions, which Reed describes as “remarkably melodic. It makes people smile in their sleep and whistle out of nowhere. It’s extraordinary beautiful, in the sense that Mozart’s music is beautiful.”
The concert begins at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $45 to $15; to reserve, call the Bard box office at (845) 758-7900 or visit www.fishercenter.bard.edu. For more information on Harrison, visit www.newalbioncom.