The Perilous Chapel

Composed by: Lou Harrison (1917-2003)
Arranged by: Felix Salazar

Lou Harrison’s The Perilous Chapel (1948) – an accompaniment for a dance production written for harp, cello, and flute – was described by choreographer Jean Erdman as “a psychological drama that expresses both the individual and group experience of a shattering awakening into a larger truth.” As chaos resolves in “Alleluia,” the main dancer becomes enlightened and shares this new wealth of knowledge with the others. Harrison described this epiphany as “a dance on the floor of heaven.” The shifting temperaments throughout the piece seem to coincide with Harrison’s emotional breakdown and awakening at this time.