Michael Harrison

Composer, United States

Michael Harrison is a composer and a pianist who forges a new approach to composition through tunings that extend the ancient concept of just intonation, a form of pure tuning constructed from musical intervals of perfect mathematical proportions. Harrison’s awards include Guggenheim and NYFA Fellowships. His work, Revelation, was named one of the Best Classical Recordings of 2007 by The New York Times and The Boston Globe. Other acclaimed works include Just Constellations for Grammy-winning vocal group, Roomful of Teeth (called “glacially beautiful” and “luminous” by Alex Ross in The New Yorker) and his album, Time Loops, with cellist, Maya Beiser (selected for NPR’s Top 10 Classical Albums of 2012).

Michael Harrison at piano, 2019 © Chris Edwards and McColl Center

A Major Work for Piano in Just Intonation

“Just intonation” is an ancient form of tuning constructed from musical intervals of perfect mathematical proportions and is considered the universal foundation for harmony. Although just intonation is the common thread that connects music to math, science, art, and architecture, few contemporary composers work with this system. Michael Harrison’s project is to compose a new major work for piano. As the sequel to his most critically acclaimed work, Revelation, the new piece will explore different compositional, pianistic, and technical approaches to working with just intonation.