Introducing Julie Harris

Hello everyone-

I could tell you about my various careers as clarinetist, pianist, and composer, when I performed up and down the Eastern seaboard of the United States and had my music premiered around the world.  But I'd rather tell you about two things that changed my life and have continued to define my musical world.

About twenty-five years ago I was standing in line at Lowes, when a 90 year old composer came on the wide screen t.v. above the check out counter.  He was practically in tears, as he heard his music played for the first time.  He had been composing all his life, but had never had a piece performed.  For his 90th birthday his family hired an orchestra to play some of his pieces.  There I was at Lowes, the tears streaming down my face, folks in line urging me to move on, when I made a promise to myself - Every deserving composer in my world would have his/her music performed.  I would devote myself to the composers and performers and to bringing their music to life and to a wider audience.

A few years later I bought Olivier Messiaen's book "The Technique of My Musical Language" which became my prized possession.  I spent all my waking hours poring over this book, written by one of the most generous and original composers of the 20th century.  Word got out about this rather strange woman who was always studying Messiaen on the village green, and talking about Messiaen to anyone who would listen, and giving Messiaen CDs to everyone she knew.  The next thing I knew the most incredibly talented and eager students were knocking on my door. 

Now, twenty years later, my composition studio is the most joyous and creative place imaginable.  Here's an example.  We were working on ear training and music dictation.  The point was to think of a piece that "everybody knows" and write it down.  The three students were brothers, aged 6, 8 and 10.  They are violinists and violists as well as composers.  I suggested "Mary Had a Little Lamb".  They had never heard of it.  "How about 'Are You Sleeping, Brother John'?"  Blank looks.  I tried every nursery rhyme, jazz standard, hymn, campfire song I could think of.  They didn't know any of them.  "Well, what is a song that everyone knows?"  I asked.  "The Bach Double," said the 10 year old.  "Everybody knows that."  And the three brothers started singing it, in parts, then grabbed pencils and staff paper and started transcribing it.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vesrqFeq9rU

Welcome to my world, where music and magic and magnificence are always weaving new tapestries!

Here's an article about writing a piece for a Composers Forum competition several years ago:
http://musicwiz.club/julie-harris-la-premiere/

And here's more about my studio: 
https://harmonia.club/

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Replies

  • Ray, you weren't involved in a "small way", you were involved in a "huge way".  In fact, you were the very life and soul of that production and we'll never forgot what a great job you did.

    For those who don't know what we're talking about, several years ago one of my students wrote a choral piece called "June", which was recorded by a newly created Virtual Choir.   CF members in Finland and Berkeley CA sang some of the parts, and my students and local university singers sang other parts.  Ray was our sound engineer. He took individual lines, sent to him as separate files from singers all over the world, mixed them with a Finale background into a unified whole.  We presented this recording at a public concert as our very first international performance premiere. It was a fabulous project!

    You can hear it in the attached mp3 and see the score also attached.

    Thanks again, Ray!

    -- Julie

    Biggles said:

    Yes Julie and it was an absolute pleasure for me being involved in a small way by mixing a piece written and performed by your student. More power to you going forward.

    Ray

    June+Complete.pdf

    June - sung by the VA VirtualChoir.mp3

    Introducing Julie Harris
    Hello everyone- I could tell you about my various careers as clarinetist, pianist, and composer, when I performed up and down the Eastern seaboard of…
  • Hi Julie,

    Thanks for joining us. You're quite the story teller. I enjoyed your piece The Singing Lesson immensely. I look forward to your continued presence here.

  • Such delightful news about you and the Composers Forum! It was a thrill for me when one of your contests provided me the opportunity to hear a small piece of mine played. It's good to "see" you!

  • A few years later I bought Olivier Messiaen's book "The Technique of My Musical Language" which became my prized possession.  I spent all my waking hours poring over this book, written by one of the most generous and original composers of the 20th century....... Word got out about this rather strange woman who was always studying Messiaen on the village green, and talking about Messiaen to anyone.......


    Hi Strange woman...

    What is your favourite Messiaen work? Some of mine are the Vingt Regards,  Poemes pour Mi, Turangalila, Les Offrandes oubliees...etc, etc. Have you discovered Dutilleux yet?

    From a strange man....:-)

  • Thanks, Steve.  I hope we will all continue to make this Forum a very special place!

    Steve Chandler said:

    Hi Julie,

    Thanks for joining us. You're quite the story teller. I enjoyed your piece The Singing Lesson immensely. I look forward to your continued presence here.

  • Janet!

    I remember your piece well - a fanfare for horn that was very exciting.  The audience loved it!  Wasn't it modal?  It's been about four years or more so I don't know if I'm remembering correctly, but I remember how much we all enjoyed hearing it.

    It's really good to "see" you again, too.  Here we all are, after all these years.  ;-)

    Janet Spangenberg said:

    Such delightful news about you and the Composers Forum! It was a thrill for me when one of your contests provided me the opportunity to hear a small piece of mine played. It's good to "see" you!

  • Hello fellow "strange" one!  It's so good to meet another Messiaen lover. 

    I guess my favorite has to be Poemes Pour Mi - especially the version with Dawn Upshaw and Gilbert Kalish.  "Le Collier" is one of the most played pieces in my studio.  Even the little kids eat up the polytonality, especially when they see the two superimposed keys of E major and Eb major.  Who would have thought "dissonance" could be so beautiful?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHHW5jaaH1g

    I also love Turangalila, although I can never remember how to spell it (!) and Visions of the Amen.  But I think even more than those, I love his opera St Francoise - especially the sermon to the birds and the angel and the voice of God - and Vingt Regards and his last piece, Éclairs sur l'au-delà.

    I love the way he returned to the Poemes Pour Mi harmonies in the Eclairs, as if his musical life had gone full circle.  I also love the fact that even while he was dying he shared with all of us the music he was already hearing from the hereafter.  Another thing I love is that after all his explorations of unique and new harmonies, he returned to a C major chord for the voice of God in St Francoise.  My students love this story, and are totally intrigued by the Ondes Martentot.

    Uh oh, you've opened the floodgates.  Let me stop now before I get too carried away.

    Oh, and yes, I know a few flute pieces by Dutilleux - what else would you recommend?

    See you later, Mike!



    Mike Hewer said:

    A few years later I bought Olivier Messiaen's book "The Technique of My Musical Language" which became my prized possession.  I spent all my waking hours poring over this book, written by one of the most generous and original composers of the 20th century....... Word got out about this rather strange woman who was always studying Messiaen on the village green, and talking about Messiaen to anyone.......


    Hi Strange woman...

    What is your favourite Messiaen work? Some of mine are the Vingt Regards,  Poemes pour Mi, Turangalila, Les Offrandes oubliees...etc, etc. Have you discovered Dutilleux yet?

    From a strange man....:-)

  • Thank you, Dave.  Your note means a lot.  ;-)  I look forward to many future collaborations.

    Dave Dexter said:

    Oho! So Julie's sharing the captain's chair here. Well - based on an admittedly relatively recent awareness of you, and this post alone, there couldn't be many better choices.
    Introducing Julie Harris
    Hello everyone- I could tell you about my various careers as clarinetist, pianist, and composer, when I performed up and down the Eastern seaboard of…
  • Hi Jule -

    Thank you for helping to revive this forum. Your expertise and work in support of serious music is admirable and also appreciated.

    I also am happy to see that you are a Messiaen fan. We all love the great old masters; can you list some other composers of "new" or "dissonant" music that you would recommend for us?

  • HI Julie--

    Thanks so much for sharing!

    --and many thanks, along with Gav, for reviving this forum. You're both doing a GREAT job:)

    Thanks Bob https://soundcloud.com/bob-morabito

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