Conductor David Bloom to get by with a little help from his friends
The final concert of the Present Music season June 3 may be a collection of five pieces Milwaukee audiences have never heard, but for guest conductor David Bloom the concert, and a good deal of his career, is all about friendship.
Bloom spoke from New York recently, where he is a founding co-artistic director of the 21-member new-music ensemble Contemporaneous, and conductor of the Face the Music Philharmonic and High School Orchestra at the charter Special Music School (P. S. 859).
Talking about his path to conducting new music, Bloom said, “I started out playing piano and clarinet, but really what brought me to new music was composing.”
Bloom began composing when he was 13 and started studying composition at 17. It was also during his teens that he was drawn to conducting, he said.
“In college I wanted to hone my conducting skills and I wanted to help out my friends,” he said, “So I conducted my friends’ new music. I just happened to have a quite a few friends who were fantastic composers.”
To this day, he said, “The new music that really gets me going is music by my friends.”
So imagine his delight when his conversation more than a year ago with Present Music artistic director Kevin Stalheim included a request for ideas about what Bloom might like to program on the concert.
“At first I tried to think of works that probably wouldn’t have been heard in Milwaukee,” he said. But when he looked at Present Music’s past programs, he was surprised.
“It’s really incredible the kind of programming Present Music has done,” he said. So he turned to pieces he knows and loves, what he called, “my dream pieces to bring before this audience.”
“Kevin had the final say, of course,” Bloom said, “but he heard every one of my recommendations and went for them.”
The program contains five scheduled pieces, by Missy Mazzoli,Jeremy Podgursky,Andrew Norman, David Lang and Matthew Evans, and one unlisted encore, all of which were not only written by people Bloom knows and has worked with, but are also pieces he has conducted before.
(Milwaukee Opera Theatre and Wild Space Dance Company recently stagedMazzoli’s chamber opera, “Song From the Uproar: The Lives and Deaths of Isabelle Eberhardt.”)
“This is music that is near and dear to me — music I love a lot,” he said. “I have a background in getting all of these pieces off the ground and ready for an audience.”
Part of his delight in this program is actually delight in conducting the pieces again, which, according to Bloom, “happens far less often than I would like” in the constant quest for “new” in the new music world.
IF YOU GO
Present Music and guest conductor David Bloom will perform at 7:30 p.m. June 3 at Turner Hall Ballroom, 1040 N. 4th St. For tickets, visit www.presentmusic.org or call (414) 271-0711. A party will follow the concert, with music by Painted Caves.