New Partch Programs 20/21


 PROGRAM 1   “The Long Departed Lover”

An intimate concert featuring the Seventeen Lyrics by Li Po (1930-33), composed on poems of the 6th century by the Chinese poet Li Po, nowadays known as Li Bai, for voice and Adapted Viola. Those poems were a source of inspiration for Harry Partch, but one can still read them with contemporary eyes: to flee from your country and to be torn by homesickness, the sadness of the immigrant, finding solace in drinking and hopeless love are the ingredients of a melancholic universe.
For Partch the songs represented a creative highpoint in his life in which he defined his new composing ideas. There was no turning back:  everything he had written before was burnt in a pot belly stove.

We present this program with 2, 3 or 4 musicians,  and several variations are possible:

 Seventeen Lyrics by Li Po (1930-33)  and Two Psalms with male voice, female voice or both, and with adapted viola
– Addition of other instruments. With diamond marimba and adapted guitar II: Three Intrusions: The Rose, The Crane, The Waterfall. With chromelodeon: Two Psalms- The Lord is my Shepherd, By the Rivers of Babylon.
-Addition of contemporary ‘New Li Po Songs’, written especially for the ensemble in our recent project ‘Rose Petal Jam’.

PROGRAM 2 “Lecture 1942”

This program is inspired by a lecture that Harry Partch presented on November 3, 1942, at the Eastman School of Music in New York. An acetate recording, brought to light in 2012, shows us a mesmerising,  well spoken and charming Partch, lecturing for a crowd of young people, and effortlessly performing his own works in between.  He explains how he came to his theory of 43 tones in the octave and gives examples on the Chromelodeon, a retuned organ. He also talks about colours,  Speech Music, poetry, Ancient Greece, the Renaissance, and Shakespeare. Scordatura brings this lecture to life as a remake with sound fragments and musicians reading parts of it, while in between the music is played, as well as pieces that refer to topics in the lecture. This program is a great introduction to Harry Partch, and at the same time very interesting for composers and trained new music listeners.

We present this program with 4 musicians: male and female singer, Adapted Viola, Adapted Guitar I,  Chromelodeon, Kithara. Pieces: Letter from Hobo Pablo (1943), Progressions Within One Octave (1942), Dark Brother (1942), San Francisco: A Setting of the Cries of Two Newsboys on a Street Corner (1943), Psalms : The Lord is my shepherd, By the Rivers of Babylon (1932-43). From the Seventeen Lyrics by Li Po: A Dream/ I am a Peach Tree (1932- 33), Barstow—Eight Hitchhikers’ Inscriptions (1942)

PROGRAM 3 “US Highball”

Harry Partch became homeless during the Depression years in America, as many young men.  These hobo years are prominent in his composition US Highball, a musical roadmovie with as under title A Musical Account of a Transcontinental Hobo Trip. We present the piece with film material by Partch himself.

Besides US Higball we propose  ‘San Francisco’ , material from his diary Bitter Music, a testimony of his hobo time, and the classic hobo piece Barstow- Eight Hitchhiker Inscriptions from a Highway Railing at Barstow, California.

From November 2020 we have the possibility to present a new work by Kate Moore with this program. This new work explores ‘freedom’ in an opposite way: in the persona of  Isabella di Morra, a female poet who was kept prison in a castle by her brothers, her only freedom was her voice in writing poetry.

–4 to 5 musicians with film (optional) and Adapted Viola, Adapted Guitars, Kithara, Chromelodeon. Also possibly Mazda Marimba,  Harmonic Canon, Diamond Marimba.

PROGRAM 4 James Joyce: Around Finnegan”

James Joyce’s key work Finnegan’s Wake, with the characters Isobel and Annah the Allmaziful, inspired Harry Partch as well as John Cage to make compositions.  Scordatura combines these two legendary composers, the piece Finnegan’s Wake by Partch next to Cage’s Finnegan/Joyce pieces. We added a song by Syd Barrett on a Joyce text and a melody by Mr Joyce himself, to end with Harry Partch’s spectacular Ulysses Departs from the Edge of the World.

–6 musicians with Adapted Viola, Adapted Guitars, Diamond Marimba, Chromelodeon, Mazda Marimba, Kithara, Harmonic Canon, Boobams, Cloud Chamber Bowls etc.

More info on request! Contact us…

About Scordatura ensemble:

 ‘The Partch-fest at Café OTO last night was the most joyous thing. I proclaim it my Gig of the Year, even if it is only June. Such profound and emotional music; such committed and joyful performances…’
 Facebook, 2018

 ‘I was very pleased indeed to have discovered the work of Harry Partch and the excellent Scordatura Ensemble. Loved every minute of the concert. Great fun! […] I have to confess to not being much acquainted with Harry Partch myself before this concert. I would now consider myself a fan. A joyous voyage of discovery. ‘ 
ArtsTalk Magazine, 2018


Amsterdam-based ensemble performing music using new tuning systems and microtonality

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