Present Music to open 2016-17 season with ‘Made in Milwaukee’ concert

Posted on: June 3rd, 2016 by Webmaster

Present Music to open next season with ‘Made in Milwaukee’ concert

3:43 p.m.

Kevin Stalheim of Present Music

Kevin Stalheim of Present MusicJoo Photography

By Elaine Schmidt, Special to the Journal Sentinel

When you think of Present Music celebrating its 35th anniversary next season, you want to give artistic director Kevin Stalheim and the players a hearty, job-well-done, pat on the back.

But when you contemplate what it means to create concert after concert of new music, including many pieces that have only been played a few times, and some so new the composer is still making changes and tweaks during rehearsals, it makes you want to sit down and take a deep, calming breath.

When asked about cooking up 35 years of concert after concert of new music, Stalheim said, “I am constantly researching and reading. One thing leads to another, especially now with the internet. You read about one composer and that leads you to another composer.”

“I also never throw anything away — newspaper articles and things — when it comes to possibilities,” he said.

The 2016-’17 Present Music season will include commissioned music from Ryan Carter, Robert Honstein and Cory Smythe (yes, Smythe, internationally known as a pianist, also writes music). The as-yet unwritten pieces also are as-yet untitled.

The concerts are arranged around themes, with a “Made in Milwaukee” season opener Sept. 3 featuring pieces with local roots, including pieces by Milwaukee natives Michael Torke and Jerome Kitzke.

An Oct. 21 “Angst, Horror & Fun” concert at the Milwaukee Art Museum will feature the silent film “Nosferatu” with music by PM ensemble violinist Eric Segnitz and local composer John Tanner.

Present Music’s annual Thanksgiving concert Nov. 20 promises to be another variation on the group’s traditional musical-feast theme, mixing a premiere, the Bucks Native American Singing and Drumming Group, the Hearing Voices chorus, an ensemble of about 40 flutes, and more.

The “In the Chamber” concerts Feb. 16-18 will find group members playing music for small chamber ensembles in intimate locations around the city.

The big event of the Present Music season promises to be what Stalheim called a “monster concert” April 29 at the Milwaukee Public Museum.

Working with the theme “Time, Nature, Culture, Sound,” Stalheim said he is still working out details but is finding, “endlessly fascinating possibilities in positioning musicians throughout the museum and having audience members move throughout the space encountering performances tied to specific exhibits in some way.

The season will end next spring with a program entitled “Boundaries,” featuring the Smythe premiere and other works.

If some of the Present Music season’s program descriptions sound a bit vague, it’s part of the new-music appeal. Visit for subscription and single-ticket information, and for concert details as the ink dries on the season’s newest pieces.


Present Music concludes its current season with a 7:30 p.m. concert Fridayfeaturing guest conductor David Bloom at Turner Hall Ballroom, 1040 N. 4th St.

For tickets, visit or call (414) 271-0711. A party will follow the concert, with music by Painted Caves.