Massachusetts-based composer John Harbison will serve as a music adviser with the Los Angeles Philharmonic during the 1985-86 season, The Times learned Friday.

The 46-year-old composer revealed, during a telephone interview from his Cambridge home, that he “will be in Los Angeles during the seven or eight weeks coinciding with the time Andre (Previn, the orchestra’s newly installed music director) is in town,” serving as an adviser on new music.

Harbison said the complicated arrangement, which extends through the 1986-87 season in Los Angeles, is actually the formal completion of his Meet the Composer-sponsored association with Previn that began two years ago during the conductor’s music directorship with the Pittsburgh Symphony.

According to Harbison and John Duffy, president of Meet the Composers Inc. in New York, the composer was in the midst of the third and final year of his Meet the Composer-sponsored residency in Pittsburgh in the spring of 1984, when it was announced that Previn would not renew his contract with the orchestra. After Previn was appointed as the music director in Los Angeles, Harbison said that Previn told him: “We should finish that third year in L.A.” Harbison said he plans to move to Los Angeles for the full season in 1986.


Although Philharmonic executive director Ernest Fleischmann refused to confirm Harbison’s appointment, stating that the orchestra was “still negotiating,” Harbison was introduced as the successor to the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s outgoing composer-in-residence William Kraft at a Meet the Composer press conference in New York on May 28. Kraft, too, confirmed that Harbison will be coming to Los Angeles.

Numerous works planned for Pittsburgh performances by Harbison and Previn will be heard here this coming season, including compositions by Jacob Druckman and Ellen Zwilich (whose “Celebration” will officially open Previn’s tenure with the orchestra).