PARTCH Ensemble

Partch is the Grammy® winning and twice nominated ensemble that specializes in the music & instruments of the iconoclastic American Maverick composer Harry Partch who, between 1930 and 1972, created one of the most amazing bodies of sensually alluring and emotionally powerful music of the 20th century. Partch wrote music drama, dance theater, multi-media extravaganzas, vocal music and chamber music—all to be performed on the extraordinary orchestra of instruments that he designed and built himself.

Since their formation in 1991 to perform the music of Lou Harrison and Harry Partch, the group has gone on to commission and premiere works by Larry Polansky, Mamoru Fujieda, John Luther Adams, Mari Takano, Sasha Bogdonawitsch, James Tenney and others.  In 1995 they toured Japan under the auspices of the American Embassy’s prestigious Interlink Festival, giving three weeks of concerts and lectures on new music. They have performed for Chamber Music in Historic Sites, the LA County Museum of Art, UCLA’s Partch Centennial Celebration, Sacramento’s Festival of New American Music, Minnesota Public Radio’s American Mavericks, Mills College, UNM Albuquerque, the Getty Center, Repertory Dance Theatre RDT Salt Lake City, Carlsbad Music Festival, Jacaranda Music, the Guadalajara International Book Fair, Grand Performances, and the San Francisco Symphony. In 2004, they  made their Disney Hall/REDCAT debut premiering Harry Partch’s Bitter Music, and have returned every year since.

“Stunning…” – Los Angeles Times

“Marvelous to watch and to hear…” – LA Weekly

“Splendid musicians…a true garden of delights.” – Lou Harrison

“Funny, moving, inventive and insanely theatrical…an unforgettable performance.” – San Francisco Chronicle

“The ensemble that calls itself, simply, Partch – its weird and wonderful sonorities, truly unlike anything else on Earth or any neighboring celestial body, filled the air at REDCAT most enchantingly. Marvelous to watch and to hear, the physical beauty of their structure and the haunting resonance of their sounds, as they wandered among the labyrinthine designs of Partch’s 43-note octaves and the vagaries of their percussive adventures, re-created the living experience as it was when Partch and his gang were among us.” – Alan Rich, LA Weekly

“Every seat in REDCAT was taken, and the audience was the elusive devoted dream crowd that classical presenters lust after: young and old, hipsters, academics and nerds, all sharing a passion for Partch… The performances were stunning. Partch made a big point of the corporeality of performance. His instruments and tuning were intended to reach a listener physically, even erotically. He wanted performers who were physical presences. And he got them in the likes of Erin Barnes on the Diamond Marimba, whose performances were spectacular dances in themselves. The same could be said for David Johnson (cloud chamber bowls) and T.J. Troy (bass marimba).” – Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times

“The Artists’ Artists” — Artforum

“Outlandish” — NY Times


The Instruments

•  Adapted Viola (1930/2003)  •  Adapted Guitar I (1935/1990)  •  Kithara (1938/2004)  •  Kithara II (1954/2019)
•  Chromelodeon (1941/2009)  •  Adapted Guitar II (1945/2000)  •  Harmonic Canons Castor & Pollux (1945/2004-6)
•  Diamond Marimba (1946/2001)    •    Adapted Guitar III (1950/2006)   •   Bass Marimba (1950/2003)
•  Cloud Chamber Bowls (1950/2005)    •  Marimba Eroica (1951/2013)  •  Surrogate Kithara (1953/2010)
•  Spoils of War (1955/2011)  •  Boo (1955/2017)  • Gourd Tree (1964/2018)  •  Bloboy (1958/2019)  •  Janus II & III (2022)