Michael Harrison

Michael Harrison, composer and pianist, has been called “an American Maverick” by Philip Glass. Through his expertise in “just intonation” tunings, Indian ragas and rhythmic cycles, he has created “a new harmonic world…of vibrant sound” (The New York Times).

In the 1980s, between his studies at the University of Oregon, Harrison traveled to New York City where he worked closely with La Monte Young preparing all of the specialized tunings and scores for Young’s 6½-hour work, The Well-Tuned Piano. In 1986, Harrison designed and created the “harmonic piano,” an extensively modified grand piano with the ability to play 24 notes per octave. Kyle Gann from The Village Voice hailed the harmonic piano as “an indisputable landmark in the history of Western tuning,” and the instrument is described in detail in the second edition of the Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments. Revelation, Harrison’s first recording for Cantaloupe Music, was chosen by The New York Times, The Boston Globe and Time Out New York as one of the Best Classical Recordings of the year, and received awards from the Classical Recording Foundation and IBLA Foundation.

Harrison is a disciple of the late Pandit Pran Nath, with whom he studied classical Indian vocals since 1979, and has performed solo, and with Terry Riley, as a vocalist, pianist, and on tamboura in numerous concerts and trips to India. Since 1999, he has continued his studies and performs with master Indian vocalist Ustad Mashkoor Ali Khan. He is the co-founder and president of the American Academy of Indian Classical Music, has taught graduate seminars at the Manhattan School of Music, and was on the faculty of the Bang on a Can Summer Institute at MASSMoCA.