Welcome to the Lou Harrison Listening Room. You can comment on American Mavericks excerpts and join the conversation! Just click on the gray ‘comment bar’ beneath a sound visualization below. This will give you a link to the track on soundcloud.com. You can login using facebook, or create a soundcloud account, to comment on the track.
Concerto for Organ and Percussion Orchestra
Program Notes: About Harrison’s Organ Concerto
Lou Harrison admired the great shattering sounds of Indonesian gamelan music, and here he translates them into a concerto. This is how he introduced the work at Mavericks 2000:
“Ingrained in Harrison’s personality was a love of musical merriment, of hummable song and rollicking dance.” – Alex Ross
The “musical merriment” begins immediately. As you listen to the opening, consider Harrison’s point that the pitched percussion provides a kind of “middle ground” between the organ and the non-pitched percussion. Where are these relationships most prominent? most interesting?
The middle movements are more atmospheric. In the second, marked “Siciliana in the Form of a Double Canon,” a canon between soprano and tenor voices is layered with a canon between alto and bass voices.
The third movement is longer and more meditative. Listen to the dialogue among the instruments about two-thirds of the way through.
The fourth movement again presents a canon for organ solo. There is also a gamelan-like sound created through melody, texture, and timbre.
In the last movement, Harrison returns to the exuberance of the beginning.
Lou Harrison immersed himself in the study of non-western musical traditions. What do you think is the most prominent result of that study in this concerto?