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Present Music is ‘Made for Milwaukee’

Concert of original work at UWM’s Zelazo Center

Aug. 30, 2016
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Much thought went into the title of Present Music’s first concert in the 2016-2017 season, “Made for Milwaukee.” “Sure, Present Music was made in Milwaukee, but saying for, we’re talking about our connection with the community. We may go into the world and on tour, but we are community oriented. It’s for our town,” explains the ensemble’s founder-artistic director Kevin Stalheim.

Debuting in 1982, Present Music is marking the start of its 35th season of performing modern and postmodern music. “I’m obsessed with thinking about Present Music in past, present and future tenses. ‘Made for Milwaukee’ has a lot to do with the heart of who we have always been and will be,” Stalheim continues. The program consists of five works commissioned by Present Music, four had debuted in Milwaukee in years past and one is a world premiere. The earlier pieces are Kamran Ince’s Arches, Michael Torke’s Four Proverbs, Sean Friar’s Breaking Point and Jerome Kitzke’s Haunted America. The premiere will be a work by a young composer with roots in Wisconsin, Ryan Carter, On a better filtering algorithm.

Carter was inspired by Evgeny Morozov’s thought-provoking book, To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism, which critiques the mindless acceptance of new technology. “I’m thinking of how filtering algorithms—the automated selection of recommendations by software—are used in social media, and how this influences opinion,” Carter says. Filtering algorithm is scored for two violins, viola, cello and percussion. “The strings use a lot of extended techniques—meaning mostly that they use their bows in unusual ways,” Stalheim says. “It is very rhythmic and the instruments react off of each other until the end when things get peaceful and calm down.” 

As has usually been the practice at Present Music, music will be the central focus but not the only thing going on. “We’ll try to present other things that are made in and for Milwaukee,” Stalheim says. There will be video screenings reflecting on the city and Present Music’s history. “Thirty-five years,” Stalheim continues, “it’s a time to sit back and take a look at what we’ve done.”

Present Music performs at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 3, at UW-Milwaukee’s Helene Zelazo Center for the Performing Arts, 2419 E. Kenwood Blvd. For tickets, call 414-271-0711 or visit presentmusic.org

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