photo of hobo markings by Infrogmation

Harry Partch (1901–1974), while one of America's best-known maverick composers, is also one of the least performed—mainly due to the one-of-a-kind instruments he created in order to generate the sounds his music demanded. The instruments themselves are difficult to transport, and they require performers with specialized knowledge of how Partch intended them to be used.

This week during a symposium and festival, co-hosted by New England Conservatory and Northeastern University, many of Partch's instruments will travel from New Jersey to NEC's Jordan Hall, with the help of their custodian, Dean Drummond. Visitors will be able to examine them and hear them used in concert. Scholars will gather to explore the continuing impact of Partch’s work, with a combination of academic conference sessions, interactive workshops, and concert performances housed at both NEC and Northeastern.

11:00am symposium session 2
Graham Raulerson " 'A tone … is not a hermit': Hobo political philosophy and Genesis of a Music"
Rather than debate Partch's status as a "hobo composer" based on the duration of Partch's own itinerancy, Raulerson looks to a Partch manifesto for evidence of hobo-derived philosophy.
Read a detailed abstract.

11:45am symposium session 2
Andrew Granade "Harry Partch As the Strangest Kind of Hobo"
Granade's timeline approach uncovers the volatile nature of Partch’s use of the hobo mystique and his reaction to it.
Read a detailed abstract.

Harry Partch is best known as a radically individualistic musical experimentalist, an emblematic “American maverick.” Seeking to create a music close to human speech, he found himself “seduced into carpentry” to create an orchestra of unique instruments and a substantial corpus of instrumental, vocal and dramatic works. His 25-year career cut across composition, music theory, and instrument building, and its conscious links to music making outside of Europe have attracted the attention of a diverse following of listeners, musicians and scholars.

Date: September 20, 2012 - 11:00:AM
Price: Free
Location: Keller Room

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