A biography of the composer Lou Harrison (1917-2003) was published last year on the centennial of his birth, and though I knew he was an interesting character, I wasn't quite prepared for how interesting. The biography, written by a pair of percussionists from Portland and Claremont respectively, is dense with intelligent musical analysis (which you can skip if incomprehensible) and fascinating stories about Harrison's interactions with everyone from his teachers Henry Cowell and Arnold Schoenberg (now that's a hat trick) to his friends John Cage and Virgil Thomson.
That means you won't be able to see Sarah with her flaming red hair matched by a flaming red dress or the amazing mixture of instruments that Winant had brought that included the gamelan Harrison and Colvig had bought on their first trip to Indonesia, and porcelain bowls "from Lou's kitchen." You also don't get to see the beautiful young percussion troupe that Winant brought along or the Alexander String Quartet who premiered Harrison's exquisite 1978 String Quartet Set, or violinist Kate Stenberg joining Winant and Cahill in the 1986 Varied Trio. The chance to hear these original instruments with original performers with such original music was extraordinary, and won't last much longer because time marches on. The concert was sort of a ramshackle affair, but that felt oddly appropriate for San Francisco's prototype gay hippie genius.