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‘Gay icon’ composer gets documented by his neighbour

He never quite made it as a household name but Lou Harrison was, according to a new documentary, ‘ a towering figure in 20th century avant-garde music… a gay icon… poet, painter, bon vivant and mentor.’ The documentary has been made by a lady who lived across the road and now guards his home as a shrine. Eva Soltes’s film premieres next Monday in Santa Cruz. Details here. And catch this musical tribute from MTT.

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  1. That really was worth hearing. Thanks….

  2. Scott MacClelland says:

    Lou Harrison was a founder of the Cabrillo Music Festival which plays all new music, currently and for the last two decades under the direction of Marin Alsop. The festival and Marin have become a worldwide magnet for new music and its composers, to say nothing of the sell-out audiences who come to Santa Cruz and San Juan Bautista every summer. Lou brought Asian music to the West Coast and composed a great body of original music in the musical languages of China and Indonesia. He is very much a household name in the Western US and as original a voice as any in the second half of the 20th century. Like many of the best pioneers, his numerous styles are virtually impossible to imitate. Though he made his home in Aptos (next to Santa Cruz) he suffered from respiratory distress in the damp coastal air and built himself a desert house near Joshua Tree Nat’l Park with a long barrel vault made from hay bales. Alas, he never had a chance to live there; it is now a museum run by Eva Soltes, who made the film you cite. It was a great pleasure to have known Lou, a self-styled “gladular optimist” whose knowledge of music and its history ran as deep as anyone I ever encountered, and whose wit was a unique as his music.

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