music for harp

Karen Gottlieb

Innova 927


Karen Gottlieb, harp

Tod Brody, flute

Dan Reiter, cello

William Winant & Daniel Kennedy, percussion


Lou Harrison

Suite for Cello and Harp (1949)

        1  Chorale  1:43

        2  Pastorale  3:12

        3  Interlude  1:14

        4  Aria  5:30

        5  Chorale  1:50


6   Wayne Peterson

Colloquy for Flute and Harp (1999)  12:00


7   John Cage

In a Landscape (1949)  7:23


8   Dan Reiter

Sonata for Flute and Harp (1982)  11:56


Lou Harrison

Music for Harp with Percussion (1967-1977)

        9  Serenade  2:04

        10            Jahla  2:03

        11            Sonata in Ishartum  1:57

        12            Beverly’s Troubadour Music  1:30

        13            Music for Bill and Me  4:29

        14            Avalokiteshvara  2:11

        15            Serenade  2:23



This album is a tribute to four mid-20th century new music composers of the San Francisco Bay Area. In particular, the compositions reflect tonal qualities, beautiful melodies and ethnic rhythms from various cultures of Southeast Asia, India, “The Silk Road”, and Europe. 


I was raised by artistic parents — my father a classical musician, scholar and ethnomusicologist and my mother an architect. We lived for several years in India and Europe where I was exposed to a variety of musical styles and traditions. Our home was frequented by artists and musicians from Paul Hindemith & Darius Milhaud to Ravi Shankar & Zakir Hussain. My father Robert Gottlieb had a distinguished career as an ethnomusicologist, primarily in India and Southeast Asia. In 2005 my father received the ChhandayanJyotsna Award’ from the Indian government for his contribution to the preservation of Indian Classical Music and North Indian Tabla Drumming. He had a profound effect on my insight and appreciation of music recorded on this CD. The pieces are some of my favorites.


For over thirty years I have been performing with new music ensembles in the San Francisco Bay Area. I am fortunate to have worked and recorded with many important and influential 20th century composers. In particular, I had a wonderful and inspiring friendship with Lou Harrison which began in 1980. I have performed & recorded his orchestral, chamber and choral works, including the 3rd & 4th Symphonies and “La Koro Sutra”. I recorded “Music for Harp” in 1994 as the sound track for the film “Building A Dream”. It was also included by producer Eva Soltes in her documentary, “Lou Harrison: A World of Music.”


My mother, Lois Davidson Gottlieb, spent several years living and working as an apprentice with Frank Lloyd Wright at both Taliesin East and West. One of her final architectural projects was a magnificent home for my brother & sister-in-law Mark & Sharon Gottlieb, built of recycled materials (such as laminated wood and ice block) which she chronicled and produced with Eva Soltis in the documentary film “Building a Dream”.  She met Lou Harrison during that time and felt his music perfectly complemented her contemporary architectural style. About the film and my recording, Lou Harrison wrote: “It is a splendidly done documentary of exemplary building and I am delighted that Karen so beautifully recorded my music to accompany it.” After Lou’s death in 2003, Eva Soltis acquired the Lou Harrison ‘Straw Bale House’ in Joshua Tree, California. Aided by my mother’s architectural designs, Eva renovated the house and grounds and established a center for music, art and ecology residencies.


This album is dedicated to my harp teacher Pamela Vokolek, who encouraged my love of new music, and to my mother, Lois Davidson Gottlieb, who always believed in me. A special thank you to Paul Glass for his assistance preparing the written material. Finally, my husband, David Klein, deserves my eternal gratitude for his stellar support, encouragement and editorial advice. 

          — Karen Gottlieb, May 2015, San Francisco, California.


Lou Harrison (1917-2003) was an American composer celebrated for his inventive scores which integrated Native American and Asian influences. They are distinguished for their superb craftsmanship and emphasis on melody and rhythm at the expense of traditional harmony.


Born in Portland, Oregon, he moved at an early age with his family to California. In the San Francisco area the young Harrison absorbed music of diverse cultures which throughout his life informed and inspired his imagination. He studied with Henry Cowell and became friends with John Cage, with whom he composed numerous works for percussion. In Los Angeles Lou studied atonal theory with Arnold Schoenberg. He then moved to New York City where he thrived not only as a composer of symphony and opera, but also as a music critic (mentored by Virgil Thomson), and as an author, publishing a study of Carl Ruggles. During this period Lou met Charles Ives and conducted the premier of the elder composer’s Third Symphony; the work eventually won the Pulitzer Prize. But despite his success the rigors of life in New York proved oppressive to his sensibility. He left the city in 1947, first for Black Mountain College, where he developed an interest in Asian music; and then for Aptos, California, where he settled. Lou pursued his innovative methods which displayed original tunings and tonality for just intonation orchestra and chorus. After attending the 1961 East-West Music Encounter, a conference in Tokyo, his knowledge and appreciation of Asian music blossomed. In 1975 influenced by the Javanese gamelan orchestras, Lou began scoring many works using gamelan, western instruments and custom-made ones to create a wonderful blend of Pacific Rim & Asian style music – ‘East Meets West’ – in a reverence of world cultures. Overall Lou’s music is joyous with a love of melody and beauty in all its forms. Recognized and honored by his peers, he was named Musical America’s composer of the year 2002. Lou Harrison passed away in 2003 en route to a festival dedicated to his career.


Suite for Cello & Harp

The Suite For Cello And Harp (1949) was inspired by the cave paintings in Lascaux, France. The Suite forms a cycle, beginning and ending with a beautiful meditative chorale evoking an old man “plowing in the ancient manner behind the immemorial ox.” The second movement “Pastorale” depicts the “willowed, rivered landscape of the Dordogne Valley” where the caves are located. The impressionistic fourth movement “Aria” features a chromatically based melodic line over an ostinato part for harp (which is an adaptation from Harrison’s “Symphony on G”).


Music for Harp

Composed separately (and transcribed for guitar) the pieces of this collection were created by Lou for the troubadour harp without pedals. In 1967 he bought one of the first troubadour harps produced by Lyon & Healy Harps.  With great reverence and fond memories Lou’s harp now resides in my music studio. 


Lou suggested that the harp be tuned in specific modes or intonations for a “special resonance.” These tunings employed the so-called modes of Pythagorean, intense diatonic tunings written by Ptolemy; and Korean mode titled “The Delightful” and Just Intonation. After much consideration I respectfully chose ‘well-tempered’ tunings for this CD. These pieces reflect Lou’s growing interest in Indonesian and Asian music which highly influenced his compositions for the remainder of his life.


Serenade (1952) was initially composed for guitar and first appeared in a letter from Lou to a friend. For some forty years the piece remained unpublished; photocopies (displaying Lou’s graceful calligraphy) were circulated within the community of guitarists. Lou specified that “the harp may play this piece too, one octave lower than where written, of course.” 


During this period, Lou began writing a kind of world music. He said, “I am interested in a trans-ethnic, a planetary music.” Without a hint of harmony the piece has an irregular rhythm and perfect melody with Indian and Asian influences establishing a unique identity apart from the dense textures of East Coast Modernism. One of his most lovely pieces, it appears twice on this CD. The complete Music for Harp was recorded in 1994 and the final Serenade was re-recorded in 2014. 


Jahla – in the Form of Ductia to Pleasure Leopold Stokowski on his Ninetieth Birthday (1972). The word Jahla is borrowed from North Indian music which signifies a main melody mixed with drone notes, creating a sense of perpetual motion. The Ductia, a light and brisk medieval dance, is accompanied in this piece by finger cymbals and a tambourine in an ostinato pattern.

Sonata in Ishartum (1974) was initially composed for two troubadour harps. Ishartum signifies a mode discovered on a tuning tablet (18th century BCE) for a Babylonian harp.


Beverly’s Troubadour Piece was written, Lou stated, “when several of us one night in 1967 in Aptos composed pieces for our friend Beverly Bellows to play on a new troubadour harp which Bill and I had just acquired.” Here finger cymbals, rattle tambourine and bongos add their charm, conjuring up Indonesian dance through bold rhythmic statements and strong melodic lines.


Music for Bill and Me (1966,67) was composed by Lou for Bill Colvig, his companion of many years and colleague in the art of making instruments. Bill Colvig passed away in 1999.


Avalokiteshvara (1964) is named in honor of the bodhisattva of compassion who vowed to aid the suffering of all beings. The piece conveys an Asian ambience given its Korean mode “The Delightful,” and specially tuned water bowls. A similarity to Jahla may be noted from a drone effect with doubling of octaves that imply a perpetual dance. 


Wayne Peterson (b.1927)

Wayne Peterson was awarded the 1992 Pulitzer Prize in Music, crowning a distinguished career which began in 1958 with a commissioned premier and recording by the Minnesota Orchestra under Antal Dorati. More honors include: fellowships and commissions from the Guggenheim, Koussevitzsky, Fromm, Meet The Composer, and Djerassi Foundations, and an award of excellence from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Peterson has catalogued more than sixty compositions for orchestra, chorus and chamber ensembles.


Professor Emeritus of Music at San Francisco State University, Wayne Peterson has been a guest professor in composition at Stanford University, Indiana University, the University of Minnesota, Brandeis, U.C. Santa Barbara and the Composer’s Conference in Wellesley, MA. He served on the nominating committee for the Pulitzer Prize in 1999 & 2000 and was a jury member for the First Seoul International Competition for Composers. His appreciation and knowledge of the harp were inspired by his work with Marcella DeCray.


Commissioned by flautist, Sue Kahn and harpist, Susan Jolles, Colloquy was completed in 1999 and is a riveting dialogue between the flute and harp. A sense of organic unity is achieved with frequently recurring motifs despite the absence of a preconceived structural plan. Numerous extended techniques, unique to the latter half of the 20th century, are employed in addition to traditional methods.


Colloquy begins with sustained, lyric passages which increasingly alternate with those of a more animated and fragmentary nature. Midway, a scherzo emerges and builds inexorably to an exciting climax. There follows a gradual reduction of tension and pace, which resolves with a delicate reference to the opening statement. This recording also appears on Peterson’s album, Peregrinations (Troy601).

John Cage (1912-1992)

Composer, writer, theorist, and artist, John Cage was one of the most significant cultural figures of the 20th century. A student of Henry Cowell and Arnold Schoenberg, Cage merged their insights with his investigations into chance. Revered for his innovative methods Cage early in his career experimented with instruments, altering their sound, to create music unique and original. Inspired by Eastern philosophy and religion, particularly Zen Buddhism, he often consulted the I-Ching to determine elements of his work. 


Actively involved in the visual and performing arts Cage created numerous works with choreographer and dancer Merce Cunningham; their partnership flourished for many years.


In a Landscape was scored in 1948 for dancer Louise Lippold. Lyrical and meditative the piece evokes an ethereal quality that seems to suspend time. With a debt to Erik Satie the patterns and rhythmic structure of 15 X 15 measures alternate between modes in B and G, adhering to the rhythmic structure of Lippold’s choreography. Cage intended the piece for harp or piano. It was originally premiered at Black Mountain College, a center for the creative ‘maverick’ spirits of the mid-20th century.


Dan Reiter,

cellist & composer.

Dan Reiter (b.1951) is the principal cellist with the Oakland East Bay Symphony, the Fremont Symphony, and the Festival Opera Orchestra. With these orchestras, he has performed the Schumann Cello Concerto, Strauss’s Don Quixote, and Three Meditations from ‘Mass’ by Leonard Bernstein. In 2012, Dan received an Irvine Grant to write for the OEBS, and on May 3rd 2013 had his world premiere of Mysterium, an orchestral work that explores the Kaballah.


In 1980, his Ricercar for three cellos, harp and dumbeck received critical acclaim in the Oakland Symphony’s Sound Spectrum Series. During this period he created music for clarinet, cello and bass. One of these works, Reiter’s Raga, was recast for clarinet, viola and cello, and performed by Earplay, a contemporary music ensemble, on tour in California in 2006. Dan has played with Earplay as an extra since the 1980’s.


Dan has studied Indian classical music with Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, and is both performer and arranger on two CDs with master Khan. There is found much influence from Indian music in Dan’s compositions, mostly in his works for cello and harp, such as Aubade and Windflow. In the 1980’s Dan formed The Pacific Arts Trio made up of flute, cello and harp. This trio performed and toured the Western United States and Alaska for ten years. During this time he created many arrangements and composed Phantasy Trio and his Sonata for Flute and Harp. The trio continues with the new principal flutist of OEBS Alice Lenaghan.


At the request of Angela Koregelos, Principal Flautist of the Oakland Symphony, The Sonata for Flute and Harp (1982) was composed for Ms. Koregelos and Natalie Cox, Principal Harpist of the Symphony.


The Sonata evokes the sounds and emotions of various duos such as Shakuhachi and Koto, Sarod and Tabla, Violin and Cymbalom. The language is that of chords spreading out from a center; simultaneously, melodies sound above and below a center. Reworked motifs from Afghanistan and India are heard, giving an impression of a Silk Road Journey.


Karen Gottlieb,


Karen Gottlieb has performed with the San Francisco Symphony for more than two decades as second harpist. She has toured extensively with the Symphony on its USA, European and Asian tours and has performed on their recordings and DVDs. In addition, Ms. Gottlieb is the Principal Harpist for The San Francisco Contemporary Music Players and performs regularly with other Northern California new music groups — Opera Parallèle, Earplay, Empyrean and Left Coast Ensembles. She has recorded regularly with the Skywalker Recording Symphony and substituted with the San Francisco Opera and Ballet orchestras. For twenty years she served as Principal Harpist with the California Symphony and performed as a member of the San Francisco Symphony “AIM” ensembles, including 4 Sounds, Strings & Things, THAT! Group and Silver & Gold, Plus.


Ms. Gottlieb received her Bachelor of Arts at the University of Washington, Seattle and her Masters in Performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music. She teaches harp at San Francisco State University, Mills College and privately. As a certified harp technician for Lyon & Healy and Salvi Harps, Ms. Gottlieb maintains and repairs harps locally, within the USA and abroad.


Tod Brody,


Tod Brody is principal flutist with San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, as well as Northern California new music groups Earplay, Eco Ensemble, and  Empyrean Ensemble, with an extensive career that has included performances of numerous world premieres and many recordings. He is also principal flutist of the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, the Sacramento Opera, and the California Musical Theater, and makes frequent appearances with the San Francisco Opera and San Francisco Ballet orchestras, and in other chamber and orchestral settings throughout the S.F.Bay Area.  He is on the faculty of the University of California, Davis, where he teaches flute and chamber music.


Tod has served as Executive Director of the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the American Composers Forum, and is currently Executive Director of Opera Parallèle, which presents 20th- and 21st-century operas in San Francisco.


William Winant,


Grammy nominated percussionist William Winant is internationally regarded as a leading performer of avant-garde music. Over the course of his career, Willie has collaborated with legends of 20th and 21st century music, from Iannis Xenakis to Steve Reich and Yo-Yo Ma, and from Merce Cunningham to Kronos Quartet and Sonic Youth. Composers who have written for Willie include John Cage, Lou Harrison, John Zorn, Peter Garland, Larry Polansky, Gordon Mumma, Alvin Lucier, Terry Riley, Fred Frith, Somei Satoh, and Wadada Leo Smith. He is a member of San Francisco Contemporary Music Players and is the percussionist with the avant-rock band Mr. Bungle, and performs locally with his own ensemble, William Winant Percussion Group.  A member of the instrumental faculty at the University of California at Berkeley and Mills College, and a Visiting Lecturer at University of California, Santa Cruz, Winant has made over two hundred recordings covering a wide variety of music, including the revered recording of Lou Harrison’s La Koro Sutro and the 2013 release of Five American Percussion Pieces.


Daniel Kennedy,


Described as a “subtly graceful soloist” and a “stellar performer” in the San Francisco Chronicle, Daniel has been dedicated to the performance of contemporary percussion repertoire for more than three decades.  He has been the founding member of several ensembles, including the California E.A.R. Unit, the Talujon Percussion Quartet, and Rootstock Percussion.  As a soloist, his concert appearances have included performances at Washington’s Kennedy Center, New York’s Merkin Concert Hall, the Los Angeles County Museum, San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and at numerous international music festivals. Recently, he appeared with Steve Reich and the contemporary music ensemble “Alarm Will Sound” at Stanford’s Bing Theater, performed in Italy with Berkeley’s ECO Ensemble, and toured with Gamelan Sekar Jaya in Bali, Indonesia.  Daniel has been a member of the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players since 1993, and is currently the Instructor of Percussion at Sacramento State University.




Robert Shumaker, recording engineer • Cover photo – Peter Neibert, Golden Gate Bridge at Sunrise with Fog • Tracks 9-14 recorded 1994 • Tracks 1-8, 15 recorded 2014

Innova is supported by an endowment from the McKnight Foundation. Philip Blackburn, director, design; Chris Campbell, operations director; Steve McPherson, publicist.