Michael Harrison, composer and pianist, graduated from the UO in 1983 with a Bachelor of Music degree.
During his time at the UO, Harrison interspersed his studies with trips to New York to apprentice under avant-garde composer La Monte Young, preparing the specialized tunings and scores for Young's 6½-hour work The Well-Tuned Piano. In 1987, Harrison became the only other person besides the composer to perform this extended work.
In 1986, Harrison designed and created the “harmonic piano,” an extensively modified grand piano with the ability to play twenty-four notes per octave, described in The Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments.
Harrison has performed his music throughout the United States and Europe. Recordings of his works have also been released on Cantaloupe Music, New Albion Records, Windham Hill Records, Important Records, and Fortuna Records.
National Public Radio named Time Loops, Harrison’s latest album with cellist Maya Beiser, one of its Top 10 Classical Albums of 2012. The feature work Just Ancient Loops (2012), a collaboration with filmmaker Bill Morrison, was premiered with live performances by Beiser at the Bang on a Can Marathon and Sundance Film Festival, and was screened at the American Film Institute Film Festival and film festivals throughout the world.
Harrison’s previous album Revelation: Music in Pure Intonation was chosen by The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and Time Out New York as one of the Best Classical Recordings of the Year, and received awards from the Classical Recording Foundation and IBLA Foundation.
Chapters in the books Grand Obsession by Perri Knize and Temperament by Stuart Isacoff are devoted to Harrison’s work.
Harrison is co-founder of Faust Harrison Pianos, the New York area's largest independent piano dealer and one of America's foremost Steinway rebuilders. He is also co-founder and president of the American Academy of Indian Classical Music.
Harrison has been on faculty at Manhattan School of Music’s Contemporary Performance Program and the Bang on a Can Summer Institute at MASSMoCA.