Eva is close friend and collaborator of Lou Harrison, one of the great composers of the twentieth century, a pioneer in the use of alternate tunings, world music influences, and new instruments. He built the Harrison House here in Joshua as a retreat for fellow musicians. It is a straw bale “composer’s cave” that Lou Harrison completed in 2002 on the edge of Joshua Tree National Park. Of his chosen construction method Lou Harrison noted, “America grows enough straw in one year to satisfy all of its building needs.” The design, inspired by the great Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy, is a unique structure featuring a vaulted hall that measures 36′ X 12′ with a sixteen foot ceiling– proportions chosen by Harrison to create a superb and intimate sound environment for acoustic music. Harrison had one year to visit and enjoy his studio retreat where he worked on his final musical composition “Scenes from Nek Chand” for custom-made steel guitar. I talked to Eva about the residency program she now runs here and the impact the precious gift of time in the desert can have a great impact on the residents.
Eva Soltes and the Harrison house