Lou Harrison lived his first nine years in Portland, Oregon where he was born on May 14, 1917. Residencies since then include San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City (ten years), North Carolina, Oaxaca, New Zealand, and the Monterey Bay region where he has made his permanent home for the past forty years. He has studied with Henry Cowell, Arnold Schoenberg, Howard Cooper, and Virgil Thomson. Among grants and awards received: American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, Guggenheim Fellowships, Rockefeller Fellowship, Fromm Foundation, Phoebe Ketchum Thorne, and Betty Freeman. Residencies for teaching and composing include Reed College, University of Hawaii, Black Mountain College, University of New Mexico, The Music Academy of Basel, The Mozart Academy in the Czeck Republic, and Dartington Hall in England. Mr. Harrison has taught at San Jose State University, Mills College (from which he received an Honorary Doctorate), Cabrillo College, Greenwich House Music School and, on a Fulbright scholarship, at the four main Universities of New Zealand for six months. Commissions for compositions have been received from Lester Horton, Jean Erdman, Merce Cunningham, Cabrillo Music Festival, the Mark Morris Company, Louisville Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, and many others. Major performances of his work have been held in San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, NYC, Philadelphia, Bonn, Amsterdam, Stuttgart; Tokyo, Sapporo, Indonesia, Korea, Basel, and so on.
In addition to teaching and composing Lou has worked as a music critic, an animal nurse, florist, dance accompaniest, and forestry firefighter. He is also a calligraphist and poet (his poetry anthology "Joys and Perplexities" is printed in one of his original fonts), painter, and writer. In 1993, his book "Music Primer" was republished in Tokyo in both English and Japanese. Lou has helped introduce the Indonesian Gamelan to the United States and, with William Colvig, has constructed two large gamelan now in use at San Jose State University and Mills College.
Among major performances of Mr. Harrison's work in 1995 are his "Suite for Cello and Harp" by the Oakland Ballet for Remy Charlip's "Ludwig and Lou", and the joyful "Parade for MTT" which opened the San Francisco Symphony season celebrating the inaguration of director Michael Tilson Thomas. The Brooklyn Philharmonic under the direction of Dennis Russell Davis, will present Lou's "New First Suite for Strings" in November. In their free time, Lou and Bill enjoy the company of friends, hosting a gamelan "club" and a sign language class. They are currently designing a straw bale house for a high desert getaway.