"Chant, by Michael Harrison, was written in 2011 but this was its premiere. Here, too, harmonies were blocked out in unhurried chords while individual players broke out, here and there, with flurries of embellishments.

There were dissonances that went beyond those encountered in medieval music, but they always sounded like a natural outgrowth of the ancient modes. Through subtle alterations of timbre and volume, the members of the quartet achieved different degrees of density and buoyancy. In the course of the evening Christopher Otto and Ari Streisfeld took turns playing the first violin parts, and in "Chant" it was Mr. Streisfeld who was given the more soloistic phrases, which he shaped with a natural rubato and a smidgen of sweet vibrato."
- Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim, The New York Times

Click here for video streaming at METMEDIA
To view Chant forward to 8:25 (music begins at 9:30)

Click here for audio streaming at WQXR
To hear Chant forward to 8 minutes (music begins at 9:05)

Chant will receive its West Coast premiere at The Da Camera Society of Mount St. Mary's College in L.A. on February 10, 2013


Just Ancient Loops

(click on link to hear samples)

Film by Bill Morrison
Music by Michael Harrison
Cellos performed by Maya Beiser
Produced by Bill Morrison, Hypnotic Pictures 
Steve Acunto and Capolavori Productions   

Sundance Film Festival
Cellist Maya Beiser performs Just Ancient Loops with the film, presented by the  
Sundance Institute Film Music Program at the Sundance Film Festival Music Café

Film Festival Showings

International Film Festival Rotterdam  
Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival
The Walker Arts Center

About Bill Morrison

"One of the most adventurous American filmmakers"
- Variety

Over the past twenty years Bill Morrison has built a filmography of more than thirty projects that have been presented in theaters, museums, galleries and concert halls worldwide. His work often makes use of rare archival footage in which forgotten film imagery is reframed as part of our collective mythology. 

Morrison's films are in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, The Nederlands Filmmuseum, and The Library of Congress. He is a Guggenheim fellow and has received the Alpert Award for the Arts, an NEA Creativity Grant, a Creative Capital grant, and a fellowship from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts. His work with Ridge Theater has been recognized with two Bessie awards and an Obie Award.

Just Ancient Loops - Excerpt 1m30s

Just Ancient Loops excerpt:
"Views of Heaven in 24 frames per second"

Using archival footage, chemical processes and animation, Bill Morrison presents a unique view of the heavens inspired by the traditional notion of 'music of the spheres.' The cello becomes an 'Über-instrument,' laying down drones, building rhythmical grooves on top of each other, singing melismatic melodies, and reaching up to the stratosphere as the music evolves and builds into a massive, exhilarating climax.


"The cello is an ideal instrument for extensive multi-layering in performance-whether via pre-recorded tracks or live ensemble of multiple instruments-and arguably one of the performers who most expertly utilizes pre-recorded layers of sound is Maya Beiser. For the recording Time Loops she teams up with composer and pianist Michael Harrison to perform a number of Harrison's works inspired by "music from ancient Greece and the Renaissance, Indian ragas and Minimalism." All of his music is performed in just intonation, and the result is an ear-openingly clear, bright sound that fits the instrument beautifully and highlights the ecstatic, spiritual nature of the compositions.

The album begins with the three-movement Just Ancient Loops, which is by far the strongest and most engaging work on the disc. The first movement, titled "Genesis," opens with bubbling, virtuosic pizzicato lines over a steady drone. This is soon joined by soaring melodic lines juxtaposed with hunks of chordal material that take a loose chorus-verse song format. The layers gradually pile up on one another and are then stripped away to reveal more minimal textures with opening lines peeking out from the melodic forest, only to snowball again and again."
- Alexandra Gardner, New Music Box

"Michael Harrison's Just Ancient Loops, an appealing mix of live and recorded cello lines, raga-inspired drones and Minimalist rhythms performed by Maya Beiser, was enhanced by Bill Morrison's film, recorded on archival and decaying celluloid, and repurposed for Georges Méliès-style fantasy and sublimity."
- Steve Smith, The New York Times

"The Bang on a Can Marathon is always good for a spectacle or two. The day's glitziest work was Michael Harrison's Just Ancient Loops, which cellist Maya Beiser performed along with some 20 electronic versions of herself."
- Richard Gehr, The Village Voice

"...a masterpiece composed of multi-layered cello tracks... absolutely stunning."
- Sam Reising, I Care if You Listen