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Lou Harrison at 100 Years: The Seattle Connection

  • Chapel Performance Space at Good Shepherd Center 4649 Sunnyside Ave N Seattle, WA (map)

Gamelan Pacifica presents

Featuring Gamelan Pacifica and Pacific Rims Percussion Quartet

with guest artists Heather Bentley, viola and violin . Jennifer Caine Provine, violin . Paul Taub, flute . Bonnie Whiting, percussion . Maria Scherer Wilson, cello

Wayward Music Series at the Chapel Performance Space
Tickets $5–15:

Gamelan Pacifica honors the centenary of the great American composer Lou Harrison, widely considered one of America’s most original musical innovators. This rare chance to experience a live performance of Harrison’s works for gamelan and percussion will feature Gamelan Pacifica, Pacific Rims Percussion Quartet, and special guests. Featured pieces include Harrison’s Concerto for Violin and Percussion Orchestra with Jennifer Caine Provine on violin, and Threnody for Carlos Chavez for viola and gamelan, with Heather Bentley on viola.

Gamelan Pacifica celebrates a long history of involvement with Harrison and his music, dating back to 1980 when the group first gave a concert of his music for gamelan during his residency at Cornish College of the Arts. Their recording Scenes from Cavafy (2010) includes premiere recordings of major works by Harrison, including Concerto for Piano and Javanese Gamelan and A Soedjatmoko Set. Their most recent recording, Nourishment (2015), includes Harrison’s Double Concerto for Violin, Cello and Gamelan.

Harrison is unabashedly androgynous in his way of approaching creativity. He has a vital connection to the feminine as well as to the masculine. The female part is apparent in the sense of beingness. But at the same time, Lou is very male, too, ferociously active and assertive, rhythmic, pulsing, and aggressive.
— Janice Giteck, Composer

Gamelan Performers: Maggie Brown; Michael Dorrity; Stephen Fandrich; Ted Gill; Austin Larkin; Deena Manis; Anna McDermott; Richard Robinson; Stephanie Shadbolt; Matt Shoemaker; Jesse Snyder; Astrid Vinje; Jarrad Powell, Director.

Lou Harrison, considered one of America’s most original composers and musical innovators, was a polymath who engaged in painting, calligraphy, type design, and poetry. He was a leading figure, along with his friend John Cage, in a movement called Drums Along the Pacific that saw the development of percussion ensemble music in the 1930s and 1940s. That exploration provided new sonic resources for young composers and changed the course of American concert music. Harrison made a deep study of both European music and various non-western music, including music of China, Korea, and Indonesia. The latter lead him to begin to explore instrument building as a way of activating gamelan-like sounds in his music. Eventually he became a pioneer of gamelan building and composition for gamelan. He is aligned with other American “maverick” composers like Charles Ives, Edgard Varese, Carl Ruggles, Alan Hovhaness, Henry Cowell, and John Cage, who paved the way for the innovative American music of the 20th century. Harrison also actively championed political causes ranging from pacifism to environmentalism and gay rights. His music includes extensive chamber music, orchestral works, works for percussion, gamelan, as well as vocal music and two operas. He was an instrumental innovator, experimenting with percussion, tack piano, and gamelan, as well as non-western instruments. Read more about Harrison and centennial celebrations around the world:

Gamelan Pacifica is among the finest ensembles devoted to the performance of music for gamelan in the U.S. Formed in 1980, it has performed extensively in the Pacific Northwest, as well as Canada and throughout the U.S. Gamelan Pacifica is an active and adventurous ensemble, with a reputation for creating diverse productions merging traditional and contemporary musical forms with dance, theater, puppetry, and visual media. They have been guest performers at The Smithsonian Institute's Festival of Indonesia, New Music Across America Festival, Vancouver New Music Society, On the Boards, Walker Art Center, Performing Arts Chicago, and many others. In the Northwest they perform regularly and have appeared at the University of Washington, Seattle University, Town Hall, Cornish College of the Arts, the Seattle Art Museum, Evergreen State College, Centrum, Bumbershoot Festival, Arts in Nature Festival, University of Oregon, Whidbey Institute, CenterStage, and others. Visiting artists have included some of the most notable artists of Indonesia, including Heri Purwanto, Sutrisno Hartana, Wayan Sinti, Didik Nini Thowok, Sri Djoko Rahardja, I Made Sidia, Endo Suanda, Dedek Wahyudi, Goenawan Mohamad, and Tony Prabowo. Gamelan Pacifica's recordings, Trance Gong, Scenes from Cavafy, and Nourishment, have received international acclaim. Gamelan Pacifica is directed by noted composer and Cornish College of the Arts Professor Jarrad Powell. In addition to sponsoring the Javanese gamelan ensemble, Gamelan Pacifica is a well-respected non-profit arts organization that supports various programs and special projects relating to music and dance, with a special emphasis on cross-cultural and interdisciplinary collaboration. Gamelan Pacifica has been the recipient of numerous grants, including support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation and Arts International. Gamelan Pacifica is currentIy supported in part by sustaining funds from the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture and 4Culture.

Pacific Rims Percussion Quartet, formed in 1996, is comprised of Gunnar Folsom, Paul Hansen, Matthew Kocmieroski and Robert Tucker, leading players in new, chamber, and orchestral music, dance, theater, and film in the Pacific Northwest.  Performing music from the 1930s to the present, from Cage to Xenakis to Takemitsu to Reich to Roldan, as well as producing their own concerts, they have appeared with Sonora, Seattle Chamber Players, and Seattle Creative Orchestra, and on series such as Methow Valley Chamber Music Festival, Seattle Chamber Music Society, Cornish Music Series, numerous appearances at the Seattle Asian Art Museum and at St. James Cathedral, where they helped celebrate Messiaen’s 100th birthday. Educational performances have included the Seattle Symphony’s “Tiny Tots” series, Seattle Public Schools, and Imperials Percussion Festival, as well as working and performing with percussion students at Musicworks Northwest and student composers and choreographers at Cornish College of the Arts, resulting in the premiere of many new works.

Heather Bentley has adopted Seattle as her hometown. With chamber music at the center of her musical life, she performs with Trio Pardalote and runs the chamber series Club Shostakovich. She has served as Principal Violist with the Northwest Sinfonietta since 2002, and has appeared as a guest artist at Olympic Music Festival, Second City Chamber Series in Tacoma, Seattle Symphony Chamber Music Series and Seattle Modern Orchestra. Also a composer, her electro-acoustic semi-improvised opera The Ballad of Ishtar premiered in 2015 at the Good Shepherd Center, and she was commissioned by the Northwest Sinfonietta to create a new work in 2017, to be choreographed by Donald Byrd of Spectrum Dance Theater. Heather is a passionate practitioner of the art of improvisation, and is thrilled to have collaborated with inspiring artists like Butch Morris, Wayne Horvitz, Renee Baker, Jacob Zimmerman, Beth Fleenor and Jessica Lurie. As a violinist, she is Concertmaster of the improvising string orchestra Scrape, featuring original music by jazz great Jim Knapp and other living composers. She is a co-founder and principal violist of the North Corner Chamber Orchestra (NOCCO), Seattle's conductorless orchestra. 

Jennifer Caine was a first-prize winner of the Yamaha Music Foundation of Europe Competition and recipient of several awards and grants including the Royal College of Music’s Isolde Menges Prize for solo Bach, Oxford University's Polonsky Foundation Grant and Joan Conway Scholarship in Performance, Harvard University's John Knowles Paine Traveling Fellowship, and the Frank Huntington Beebe Grant for Musicians. She has concertized throughout the U.S. and Europe in venues including the Phillips Collection, Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, and the Glinka Philharmonic Hall in St. Petersburg, where she performed Beethoven's Triple Concerto with the St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic. Jennifer is the violinist of the Volta Piano Trio (formerly Icicle Creek Piano Trio), with whom she has performed extensively throughout the Northwest and abroad, been heard on national radio stations, and recorded two discs on the Con Brio label to critical acclaim. As assistant director and resident violinist at the Icicle Creek Music Center from 2007-2010, she performed on the Canyon Wren Series and coached for and directed educational programs. Jennifer regularly appears on several Northwest chamber music series, including Simple Measures, Walla Walla Chamber Music Festival, and Icicle Creek International Chamber Music Festival, and performs frequently with Seattle Symphony. She has also written freelance reviews for Strings Magazine's In Print column. Jennifer is a graduate of Harvard University with a Bachelor of Arts in Music and Slavic Languages and Literatures, and holds Masters Degrees from the Royal College of Music and Oxford University.

Paul Taub has been a leading performer of chamber and contemporary music in the Pacific Northwest since his arrival in Seattle in 1979. Professor of Music at Cornish College of the Arts, he is a founding member and Executive Director of Seattle Chamber Players and a founder of the IWO Flute Quartet. Active in musical projects with composers of the former republics of the Soviet Union, Paul has toured in Russia four times and has also performed in Greece, France, Estonia, Poland, Ukraine, Costa Rica and at universities and colleges all over the U.S. and Canada. His teachers include Marcel Moyse, Samuel Baron, Michel Debost and Robert Aitken. Paul has given premieres of works by many of today’s leading composers, including Henry Brant, John Cage, George Crumb, Janice Giteck, Sofia Gubaidulina, Toru Takemitsu, Peteris Vasks and dozens of others. His program of 10 commissioned solo pieces celebrating his 20th year in Seattle was presented at Benaroya Hall in May, 1999. Oo-ee, the CD of this repertoire, is available on the Periplum label, and his CD Edge contains music from Eastern Europe. Paul has also recorded for New Albion, New World, Mode, CRI and other labels. He has served on the Board of Directors of Chamber Music America and is currently Secretary of the Board of Directors of the National Flute Association.

Bonnie Whiting performs and commissions new experimental music for percussion. She seeks out projects involving non-traditional notation, interdisciplinary performance, improvisation, and the speaking percussionist. Her work includes a series of concerts at the John Cage Centennial Festival in Washington DC, and performance as a soloist in Tan Dun's Water Passion under the baton of the composer himself. In 2011, she joined red fish blue fish percussion group in premiering the staged version of George Crumb’s Winds of Destiny directed by Peter Sellars and featuring Dawn Upshaw for Ojai Festival. Whiting has collaborated with many of today's leading new music groups, including eighth blackbird, the International Contemporary Ensemble, as on-stage percussionist for Andriessen’s epic music theatre work De Materie, Bang on a Can, and Ensemble Dal Niente. During the summer, she is a member of the Walden Players, ensemble in residence at the Walden School in Dublin, NH. She was a member of the Lucerne Festival Academy Orchestra in Switzerland under the direction of Pierre Boulez, and has performed throughout Europe as well as Canada and Panama. Bonnie has worked with composers Jerome Kitzke, Randall Woolf, John Luther Adams, Michael Pisaro, and Frederic Rzewski, and she champions the music of her peers. She currently leads the percussion department at the University of Washington.

Maria Scherer Wilson is a classically trained experimental cellist, sound healer, and Reiki Master. She was born in Iowa, grew up in Colorado, and matured in Indiana. Maria graduated from the University of Evansville with a Bachelor of Music in Music Education, under the tutelage of Dr. Pablo Mahave-Veglia, and began her professional career with the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2001 she was granted a full scholarship to the University of Texas at Austin to study with Professor Phyllis Young. After earning her Master of Music in Violoncello Performance, Maria relocated to Hollywood where she performed with String Theory, Cat Power and Seth MacFarlane. In 2006, she met the lovely Florence Henderson, and toured her one-woman show “All the Lives of Me.” Maria has recorded for Coca-Cola commercials, independent films, and many bands/artists (The Head and the Heart, John Zorn/Eyvind Kang, Recess Monkey). In 2009, Maria transitioned to Seattle, and has since collaborated with Jherek Bischoff, Paul Kikuchi, Ahamefule J. Oluo, Led to Sea, Scrape, Jason Webley, Degenerate Art Ensemble, Karin Stevens Dance, B’shnorkestra and Dance Theater of Harlem. In 2016, Maria became a Reiki Master, and now practices sound and energy healing at her studio in West Seattle, while maintaining a fulfilling life of music, gardening, meditation and yoga. 

Image: Lou Harrison, film still from “The Universal Language,” directed by Sam Green

Cherish, Conserve, Consider, Create.
— Lou Harrison