Harry Partch Festival

$25* ($10 students/seniors) *Or purchase general admission tickets for all three performances for $60 with promo code BUYALL3FOR$60
  • Harry Partch Instrumentarium, photo Steve Korn
  • Partch Instruments
  • Harry Partch instruments at the UW
    The Harry Partch Instrumentarium is in residence at the UW (Photo: Joanne De Pue)

Twentieth century American composer Harry Partch created an original musical world and hand-hewn instruments on which to perform his microtonal compositions, which continue to inspire and influence musicians and composers today. This festival celebrates the music and influence of this unique composer, whose collection of hand-made musical instruments are in long-term residence at the UW under the curatorship of composer and Partch scholar Charles Corey.   

Programs include premiers of new works composed for Partch’s instruments as well as rarely or never-before performed works from the composer’s archives. Other activities, including master classes, demos, and talks, complete this homage to a uniquely American artist. 

Program Details

Friday, May 11

2 pm, Lecture, Music Building Room 213: 
Charles Corey presents "Issues in Analysis and Realization of the Music of Harry Partch" 

7:30pm, Concert No. 1, Meany Theater
Works by Partch, Karpen, Knox, Schneider, Watras 

Greek Studies: Harry Partch 

Crystal Paths: Garth Knox 

On Listening to Lu Tzu: John Schneider 

String Masks: Melia Watras 


Ode: Richard Karpen

Saturday, May 12 

10:30 a.m., Concert 2, UW Tower Auditorium: 
Charles Corey presents the Complete Works for Adapted Guitar and Intoning Voice 

Barstow: Harry Partch 

December 1942: Harry Partch 

Come to Dust: Charles Corey 

U.S. Highball: Harry Partch 

2 pm, Symposium Session, Music Building Room 213

Andrew Granade: "Going Home: The Persistence of Partch's Hobo Persona" 

Paul West: "Pythagoras, Plato and Partch: Breaking the Chains of a Theoretical Art Form" 

Stephanie Liapis: "Castor & Pollux: a Movement Score" 

7:30pm, Concert 3, Meany Theater
Satire and Sincerity

Y.D. Fantasy: Harry Partch 

Pneuma:  Wei Yang 

The Rose, The Crane, The Waterfall: Harry Partch 

Commentaries on Creation: Paul West 

Dark Brother: Harry Partch

The Wind, The Street: Harry Partch

Ring Around the Moon: Harry Partch


The Wayward: Harry Partch 


Sunday, May 13

10:30 a.m, Concert 4, UW Tower Auditorium: 
Luke Fitzpatrick presents the Complete Works for Adapted Viola and Intoning Voice

Two Psalms: Harry Partch 

Seventeen Lyrics by Li Po: Harry Partch 

The Grave of Li Po: Luke Fitzpatrick 

The Potion Scene: Harry Partch 

2 p.m, Lecture-Recital, Meany Theater: 
Sarah Kolat presents a lecture-recital:
"Adapted Voice: Interpreting the Vocal Works of Harry Partch"

Y.D. Fantasy: Harry Partch

The Potion Scene:
Harry Partch

Two Settings from Finnegan's Wake:
Harry Partch 

7:30 p.m., Concert 5, Meany Theater 

Lover, Soldiers - War - Another War: Harry Partch

Harry Partch

Where All That's Solid Melts Into Air:
Jeff Bowen

Two Psalms:
Harry Partch

In Paradisum:
Charles Corey

Yonah's Dream:
Mathew Rosenblum

Luke Fitzpatrick

Cloud-Chamber Music:
Harry Partch


The Wayward:
Harry Partch 

 Tickets: $25* ($10 students/seniors)
*Or purchase general admission tickets for all three evening performances for $60 with promo code: "BUYALL3FOR$60"

Buy Tickets

Artist Bios

Charles Corey is an American composer holding degrees in Music Composition and Theory from the University of Pittsburgh (Ph.D.) and Montclair State University (M.A., B.Mus.).  Among his teachers are Robert Aldridge, Trevor Björklund, Patrick Burns, Dean Drummond, Eric Moe, Mathew Rosenblum and Amy Williams. His approach to composition exploits and subverts the relationships that exist between different tuning systems; the results of this process range from pieces that use standard tuning systems in unique ways to works that involve multiple tuning systems working in concert.  His compositions are known for their unexpected, evocative harmonies and their strong dramatic arcs.  His music has been played by a variety of performers including Cikada Ensemble, IonSound Project, Iktus Percussion, entelechron, and Relâche, and his writings have been published in several languages.

Faculty composer Richard Karpen. Photo: Steve Korn

Richard Karpen (b. New York, 1957) is a composer and researcher in multiple areas of music and the arts. His compositions for both electronic media and live performance are widely known, recorded, and performed internationally. Since the early 1980s he has also been in the forefront of the development of computer applications for music composition, interactive performance, and the sonic arts. He is also active as pianist.

Karpen is a Professor of Digital Arts and Experimental Media (DXARTS) and Music Composition at the University of Washington in Seattle. Also at the UW he was founding Director of DXARTS in 2001 and Director of the School of Music from 2009-2020. He has been the recipient of many awards, grants, and prizes, including those from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bourges Contest in France, and the Luigi Russolo Foundation in Italy. Karpen has composed works for many leading international soloists, such as soprano Judith Bettina, violists Garth Knox and Melia Watras, trombonist Stuart Dempster, flutists Laura Chislett and Jos Zwaanenberg, guitarist Stefan Östersjö, and ensembles such as The Six Tones, JACK Quartet, The Seattle Symphony, and the Harry Partch Ensemble. Karpen is a founding member, with Cuong Vu, of the experimental improvisation ensemble Indigo Mist. As a pianist, Karpen has performed and recorded with Cuong Vu, Bill Frisell, Ted Poor, Steve Rodby, and others. Karpen's compositions and performances have been recorded on a variety of labels including Wergo, Centaur, Neuma, Le Chant du Monde, DIFFUSION i MeDIA, Fleur du Son, Capstone, and RareNoise.

Hailed by Gramophone as “an artist of commanding and poetic personality” and by The Strad as “staggeringly virtuosic,” violist/composer Melia Watras has distinguished herself as one of her instrument’s leading voices. Watras has helped expand the viola repertoire, through composing, commissioning and debuting new works. Compositions written for Watras include Pulitzer Prize- winner Shulamit Ran’s solo viola piece Perfect Storm, duos by Garth Knox and Cuong Vu, and a viola concerto by Richard Karpen, which Watras premiered with conductor Ludovic Morlot and the Seattle Symphony. Upcoming highlights include the release of her seventh album, Firefly Songs, a collection of her own compositions, and world premieres of Watras works commissioned by the Avalon String Quartet and violinist Rachel Lee Priday.

Watras’s discography has received considerable attention from the press and the public. Schumann Resonances was described by the American Record Guide as “a rare balance of emotional strength and technical delicacy.” The Strad called 26 “a beautiful celebration of 21st century viola music.” Ispirare made numerous Best of 2015 lists, including the Chicago Reader’s (“Watras knocked the wind out of me with the dramatically dark beauty of this recording”). Short Stories was a Seattle Times Critics’ Pick, with the newspaper marveling at her “velocity that seems beyond the reach of human fingers.” Of her debut solo CD (Viola Solo), Strings praised her “stunning virtuosic talent” and called her second release (Prestidigitation) “astounding and both challenging and addictive to listen to.”

Watras’s compositions have been performed in New York City, Chicago, Seattle, Bloomington (IN), Denmark and Spain, by artists such as violist Atar Arad, singer Galia Arad, pianists Winston Choi and Cristina Valdés, violinists Manuel Guillén, Yura Lee and Michael Jinsoo Lim, cellist Sæunn Thorsteinsdóttir and percussionist Bonnie Whiting. Her music has been heard on National Public Radio’s Performance Today, and can be found on the albums Firefly Songs, Schumann Resonances and 26. Watras’s adaptation of John Corigliano’s Fancy on a Bach Air for viola is published by G. Schirmer, Inc. and can be heard on her Viola Solo album.

Watras is violist of the Seattle-based ensemble, Frequency, for whom she has composed. For twenty years, Watras concertized worldwide and recorded extensively as violist of the renowned Corigliano Quartet, which she co-founded. The ensemble appears on 13 albums, including their recording on the Naxos label, which was honored as one of the Ten Best Classical Recordings of the Year by The New Yorker.

Melia Watras was born in Honolulu, Hawaii and began her musical studies on the piano at age 5. Soon after, she turned to the viola and made her debut at 16, soloing with the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra. Her formal studies took her to Indiana University, where she studied with Atar Arad, earning Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees and the prestigious Performer’s Certificate. While at Indiana, Watras began her teaching career as Professor Arad’s Associate Instructor, and was a member of the faculty as a Visiting Lecturer. She went on to study chamber music at the Juilliard School while serving as a teaching assistant to the Juilliard String Quartet.

Watras serves as Professor of Viola at the University of Washington, where she holds the Adelaide D. Currie Cole Endowed Professorship and was previously awarded the Donald E. Petersen Endowed Fellowship and the Royalty Research Fund. Watras has given viola and chamber music classes at schools such as Indiana University, Cleveland Institute of Music, Strasbourg Conservatoire (France), and Chosun University (South Korea). She frequently returns to her alma mater, Indiana, to teach as a guest professor. She plays a viola made by Samuel Zygmuntowicz.

—November 2020

Luke Fitzpatrick

Luke Fitzpatrick is a violinist, composer and improvisor.  He is a founding member and artistic director of Inverted Space, a Seattle-based new music collective.  Recent solo performances include Earle Brown’s Centering with Inverted Space, Alfred Schnittke’s Moz-Art with the University of Washington Chamber Orchestra and Brian Ferneyhough’s Intermedio alla ciaccona in the presence of the composer.  His February 2016 performance of Steve Reich’s Violin Phase was performed with a live electronics system developed by Marcin Pączkowski.  Additionally, he has performed with Deltron 3030, The Penderecki String Quartet, inauthentica, The Parnassus Project, The Moth, The Argento Chamber Ensemble and the California EAR Unit.  His world premiere recording of Vera Ivanova's Quiet Light for solo violin was released on Ablaze Records in 2011.  Luke holds degrees from The University of Washington (DMA), California Institute of the Arts (MFA) and the University of Missouri-Kansas City (BM).  His principal teachers include Benny Kim, Mark Menzies, Lorenz Gamma and Ron Patterson.  He is currently Artist-in-Residence at the University of Washington.

Jeffrey Bowen
Jeffrey Bowen is a composer and guitarist currently based in Seattle, where he has taught courses in music theory at Cornish College of the Arts and the University of Washington, and is co-director of Seattle’s Inverted Space Ensemble. His compositions have been performed by Pascal Gallois, Maja Cerar, Beta Collide, Ensemble DissonArt, among other ensembles in the USA and Europe. In 2013 his orchestral work Stalasso was included the Seattle Symphony Orchestra’s New Music Works program, and he has recently presented work at the Darmstadt Summer Courses for New Music, the University of Nebraska’s New Music Festival, and the New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival. 
Jeff is active in Seattle as a performer on classical and electric guitars, playing new works and 20th-century repertoire with the Inverted Space Ensemble, Seattle Modern Orchestra, Universal Language Project, Seattle Metropolitan Chamber Orchestra, and most recently as a soloist with Tacoma's Luminosity Orchestra. After studying classical guitar with William Ash in St. Louis, he received a BA in Music from Stanford University, where he studied guitar performance with Charles Ferguson and composition with Jaroslaw Kapuscinski and Mark Applebaum. He recently completed a DMA in composition at UW under Joël-François Durand.