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Harrison’s ability to combine wide-ranging influences in extended compositions while projecting a sense of cohesion and individuality is the essence of his skill. Reviewers have consistently highlighted the successful eclecticism of many of his works. Large-scale compositions, such as the Suite for Symphonic Strings (1960), the Elegiac, Third, and Fourth Symphonies (1975, 1982, and 1990), and the Piano Concerto (1985) embrace radically divergent styles ranging from Ruggles-inspired dissonant counterpoint and Medieval dances to solemn evocations of Korean court music. The trick—or, Harrison might say, the game—is to forge from these various influences a personal style, to dismantle his compositional toys and reassemble the pieces into a new one that mirrors its lineage while boasting of a distinctive character all its own.
   An excellent example of the process is Homage to Pacifica, composed shortly after the Gulf War in 1991 for the dedication of the new headquarters of the Pacifica Foundation, parent company to Harrison’s favorite "electronic gadfly,"161 radio station KPFA. To Harrison the war was a grim reminder of his earlier political statements, such as France 1917–Spain 1937 and his Peace Pieces of the 1960s. For Homage, he chose an anti-imperialist text by Mark Twain on the Philippine War for one movement and wrote a Horatian ode on the "untied snakes of America" for another. Still another movement consists of a percussive speaking chorus comprising a litany of Native American tribal names. The finale adds a note of hope with a text attributed to Chief Seattle (Chief of the Duwamish, Suquamish, and other Puget Sound tribes) on the interconnectedness of all life-forms: "Where is man without the beasts? If the beasts were gone, men would die from a great loneliness of spirit...."162 The work’s instrumentation calls for an eclectic mix, bringing together musicians who probably never before joined forces, nor are likely to do so again: chorus, solo voice, narrator, Javanese gamelan in just intonation (with both slendro and pelog instruments), bassoon, harp, psaltery, and one percussionist. During the work’s gamelan prelude, Jody Diamond (Pak Cokro’s assistant and one of Harrison’s former gamelan teachers) improvised a vocal part in Indonesian style, using, with Harrison’s enthusiastic endorsement, the call letters of the Pacifica radio stations interwoven with the theme of "We Shall Overcome." Harrison balanced the vocal movements with an instrumental tribute "to the divine Mr. Handel" (in a mode and instrumentation the Baroque master would never have imagined) and introspective interludes on unaccompanied bassoon. The Chief Seattle text that concludes the work on a note of optimism is set to a bright gamelan accompaniment. Homage to Pacifica is not a traditional gamelan work, nor an imitation of Handelian style, nor a Native American song. And yet in a sense it is all of these, with a Harrisonian twist.
   In assessing Harrison’s more than 300 works, Homage to Pacifica does not emerge as a major composition. Yet the piece is indicative of his composition process, similar to that we have seen in the Grand Duo and the Varied Trio. Whatever the underlying influences, the final product bears a personal stamp: there are the long-breathed, modally inspired melodies—at their best, expansive almost to the point of timelessness. These are often contrasted with exuberant dance movements and even, at times, angry protests in dissonant counterpoint. Instrumental color is of primary importance, and Harrison achieves it not only by his skill in traditional orchestration, but also by his use of extended techniques, his imitation of non-Western sounds with Western instrumental combinations, and his unique mixtures of instruments from various cultures. He combines compositional processes and forms from various cultures as well. ("Alban Berg on an Indonesian jaunt," commented one reviewer of his Concerto for Violin with Percussion Orchestra of 1959).163
   Harrison’s compositions are in a sense an extension of his political philosophy, a type of joining-hands-around-the-world to create, in the words of one commentator, a "musical Esperanto."164 His life has been marked by his in-depth studies: percussion, serialism, just intonation, instrument-building, Korean and Chinese music, gamelan, Esperanto—which he combines in fanciful ways. Harrison’s life of cross-cultural synthesis is summarized in the words of Chief Seattle that close Homage to Pacifica, "All things are connected. This we know."

   161 Ralph Engleman, Public Radio and Television in America: A Political History (Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications, 1996), 45.
   162 The text quoted by Harrison is from a letter of 1854 to President Franklin Pierce (probably written by Henry Smith) purportedly conveying Seattle’s words (David M. Buerge, "The Man We Call Seattle," in Washingtonians: A Biographical Portrait of the State, ed. David Brewster and David Buerge [Seattle: Sasquatch Books, 1998]).
   163 Tim Page, "Concert: New Music Consort," New York Times, Jan. 20, 1984.
   164 John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune, Aug. 7, 1989.

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