April 24, 2015

Five-Tone Kit: Janet Delaney & Lou Harrison

This brief, five-part series — named after a section of composer Lou Harrison’s (1917-2003) Rhymes With Silver — pairs an image of San Francisco from the SFMOMA Collection with a piece of music also created in or indebted to the Bay Area at large.


Janet Delaney, Mercantile Building, c. 1903, with a view toward the Moscone Center construction site, 1980 (printed 1988)

Janet Delaney, Mercantile Building, c. 1903, with a view toward the Moscone Center construction site, 1980 (printed 1988)

Lou Harrison, Varied Trio (1987)

Today’s (inaugural) post sets an image by Janet Delaney of the Mercantile Building (3rd and Mission) in San Francisco with Lou Harrison‘s Varied Trio (1987).

Janet Delaney’s South of Market series, of which “Mercantile Building” is a part, captures San Francisco’s SoMa neighborhood well before the first tech boom (ca. 1999) radically transformed the city. Based in Berkeley, Delaney speaks to localized memory and urban temporality; her aptly titled and more recent SoMa Now series serves as both counterpoint and evidence of this ongoing engagement.

Lou Harrison’s Varied Trio, meanwhile, is a five-part work for violin, piano and percussion. A fitting example of Harrison’s propensity to mesh Western and non-Western musics, its mood is slips between somber and playful arrangements. As such, it may demonstrate a kind of analog for the vibrancy and complexity of Harrison’s life.

Comments (1)

  • quico antonio lostaunau says:

    I recall Lou Harrison and his partner from the Center For World Music, Berkeley, CA. Steve Reich and many great dancers and musicians from India and Southeast Asia were also on the faculty.

    What a joy to hear one of Lou’s pieces. It was uplifting. GRACIAS!

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