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Lou Harrison - The Perilous Chapel

1997 | New Albion Records

Lou Harrison - The Perilous Chapel

In the late thirties of this century and the early forties I was, as have been many Californians, enamored of Mexico. At about this time a small book of reproductions from Mexican codices, all in color, came into my possession, and I immediately wanted to do something about the life of the culture-hero Quetzalcoatl which was there depicted. It was also a period in which one or two films were made in which the camera explored a painting in detail with musical accompaniment. Thus I immediately thought of such a thing in connection with the Mexican codices. I did not have any access to film at the time, but went ahead enthusiastically to the composition of a score. This must have been a hint to Eric Marin a few years ago, for in the excellent film about me and Bill, "Cherish, Conserve, Consider, Create", he made a passage in which part of the score is used with still photos of Mexican architecture and people. I still think that a complete film could be made based on my original idea, but in any event the score, which is played with fair frequency, I like to think reminds audiences of the extraordinary and often very beautiful civilization of Mexico and its pre-Columbian history. We first performed the work in San Francisco, and I believe that that was in the concert that John Cage and I gave in the California Hall - the concert which was concluded by the "Double Music" which he and I composed together and which resulted in the first public recording of one of my works for percussion ensemble.

– Lou Harrison

Included Works
  • Harrison: Perilous Chapel (1948)
    David Tanenbaum, guitar; William Winant, percussion, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players; John Duykers, tenor