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Now in its eighth season, MicroFest will again bring to Southern California ears the beauty that lies "between the keys" of the piano in a series of five concerts of microtonal music running from May 9 to June 11, in Claremont, Pasadena, Los Angeles, and Woodland Hills. Among the highlights of the festival will be the first concert performance of composer Harry Partch's acclaimed musical diary of hobo life, "Bitter Music," at the REDCAT theater at Disney Hall on June 11.

"Partch single-handedly reintroduced the principles of pure tuning, or just intonation, in the twentieth century," says MicroFest founder John Schneider. "This long-lost journal of Partch's homeless wanderings during the Depression, from cleaning sewers to having tea with Irish poet W. B. Yeats, is an extraordinary musical portrait of an American pioneer, chronicling his occasionally hilarious and often heartbreaking struggles against all odds to forge a new music system outside the classical tradition," adds Schneider, who will be one of those performing the piece at Disney Hall. The performance will include include Partch's own drawings as well as his extraordinary instruments built to play in a 43-tone-per-octave scale.

Among the other exotic instruments to be featured at MicroFest will be a National steel guitar with frets in just intonation, which Schneider has commissioned for a new work by pioneer minimalist composer Terry Riley for a Pierce College Concert on May 29. Canadian composer Gayle Young will also be performing on instruments she has built-- a 23-tone-per-octave metallophone named the Columbine, and the Amaranth, a 24-tone-per-octave string instrument--also at REDCAT on May 12.

MicroFest will open with a May 9 concert at Pomona College featuring new works for the entrancing bell-like tones of the Harvey Mudd American Gamelan, a collection of Javanese gongs and metallophones tuned to just intonation. The Shadow Theater of Anaphoria will also present another of their beautiful dramas of light and sound from this perhaps mythical island of atmospheric music and rituals at the Pacific Asia Museum on May 15 and 16.

The MicroFest 2004 Festival is supported by the Garrett Fund of Harvey Mudd College, the Pomona College Music Department, Pierce College, California Institute for the Arts, and the North American Embassy of Anaphoria Island.

Past years