This session is held in 354 Ryder Hall, on the Northeastern University campus, and near the Ruggles Orange Line station. Campus map.
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.
3:30pm symposium session 5
Thomas McGeary "Harry Partch and World Music"
Partch had a mythic, primitivist vision of a "world historical music," for which he at times used the terms monophony or corporeality. He saw much of Western music as a falling away from this musical ideal.
Read a detailed abstract.
4:15pm media presentation
preview screening of Jon Roy's Bitter Music
"Bitter Music seeks to illuminate the path that Partch took in his life and the experiences that made him who he ultimately became: an enigmatic genius. I realized early on that there wasn’t an in-depth film on Harry Partch that answered enough or raised enough questions. So I set out to make the film I wanted to see. The film is the culmination of several years of research on Partch: not only my own, but also the research of Bob Gilmore and Philip Blackburn and the help of the Harry Partch Foundation, Jon Szanto, Danlee Mitchell, and John Schneider."
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.
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