New Chamber Music in New Milwaukee Venue

Posted on: January 15th, 2019 by Tai Renfrow
Present Music’s February 21-22 Chamber concert will be in the new Jan Serr Studio (pictured)

Present Music announces its next concert of new chamber music by women and non-binary composers

In a concert devoted to performing a diverse and provocative sample of this century’s musical works created by women and non-binary composers, Milwaukee’s Present Music ensemble is once again calling attention to composers who are creating extraordinary new music that is rarely performed elsewhere. Present Music’s “In the New Chamber” concert features new (really new!) chamber music curated by Present Music ensemble member Eric Segnitz and performed in the new (really new!) Jan Serr Studio. The studio’s two-story window overlooking the busy streets ofthe East Side will serve as the backdrop to the 21st century,technology-rich program on February 21st and 22nd.

The concert is, in part, a reaction to the lack of access that women composers face. A recent article reported that almost 95% of classical music concerts worldwide scheduled through 2019 did not include the performance of a single work composed by a woman. And when looked at piece-by-piece, women composers account for only 2.3% of all music performed. Present Music’s performance history significantly surpasses this lack of recognition: in 2018, women composed nearly half of the works performed.

Segnitz explains, “part of the Present Music tradition has been founder Kevin Stalheim’s subtle activism…programming music that means something; a commitment to the environment, building community across socio-economic lines, addressing gender-equality issues… I programmed this concert to highlight and celebrate the fact that Kevin has always programmed works by women and other composers of a broad spectrum of backgrounds.”

The Program

The Present Music ensemble is excited to perform the works of living composers such as Jessie Montgomery, Alex Temple, and Sophie Lacaze for the first time and to feature emerging composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir and returning favorites, Jennifer Higdon and Caroline Shaw. Present Music Ensemble flutist, Jennifer Clippert, will perform Voices of Australia, a solo flute work by French composer Sophie Lacaze accompanied by the recorded voices of a New Year’s Eve celebration in the South Australian bush. Bird enthusiasts will want to listen closely to make out the six different native-Australian birds imitated by the flute!

Genderqueer composer Alex Temple describes her works as “reclaiming socially disapproved-of (‘cheesy’) sounds, playing with the boundary between funny and frightening, and investigating lost memories and secret histories.” In Willingly, Temple layers flute and piano with a digital track of the composer’s friends, colleagues, former students, and family members answering the musical question, “if you had told me ten years ago that someday I would willingly _______, I wouldn’t have believed you.”

The concert also features Cory Smythe’s performances of two works by Icelandic composer, Anna Thorvaldsdottir. Smythe, Present Music’s Grammy Award-winning pianist, specializes in performing works by Thorvaldsdottir and is featured on a recent recording of her works, Aequa, joined by the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE).

Originally commissioned for a dance company, Jessie Montgomery’s Voodoo Dolls,is part of a suite of dances representing different dolls. The piece, written for string quartet is influenced by West African drumming patterns and lyrical chant motives with highlights of improvisation.

Also appearing on the program is a brand-new arrangement of Bullanguera, written specially for Present Music by Argentinian composer Sonia Possetti.

Two Nights

INTIMATE RECEPTION & CONCERT | Thursday, February 21 beginning at 6:00pm

A complete evening of dinner, drinks, & the concert catered by Saz’s and sponsored by Jan Serr & John Shannon

CASUAL CONCERT | Friday, February 22 at 7:30pm

Enjoy the concert (drinks still available) in the relaxed, raw space of the Jan Serr Studio


Tickets to the Reception and Concert on Thursday February 21 are available for $100. A limited number remain available.

Tickets to the Concert on Friday February 22 are $25 for General Admission and $55 for Preferred Seating in the front. Students may purchase tickets to the concert on Friday February 22 for only $10 with a valid student ID. Tickets are available for purchase by phone and online, as well as at-the-door the day of the concert.Online ticket sales end 24 hours prior to each concert. To learn more and purchase tickets, go to or call 414-271-0711.

Curator Biography:

Eric Segnitz is a violinist, composer, and arranger from Milwaukee, WI. As a charter member of Kevin Stalheim’s New-Music ensemble, Present Music, Segnitz has had an expansive role. Over 38-year history of concerts, tours, and recordings, Segnitz has written countless arrangements, scored six for live performance by the Ensemble and served as a multi-instrumentalist, playing guitar, hardanger fiddle, and other instruments, beer bottles, and wine glasses. Segnitz also supports Present Music’s education initiatives, serving as the resident Composing Teacher with Present Music’s Creation Project, and creator and performer of educational shows under the MSO’s ACE program.

Segnitz is also involved in many other facets of musical life in Milwaukee, including years with the Milwaukee Symphony and Milwaukee Ballet, scoring plays for the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, publishing arrangements with Hal Leonard, and long associations with Milwaukee’s fine recording studios. In the realm of chamber music, he shepherded the 14-year Ben Johnston 10-string-quartet cycle for New World Records as producer and violinist with the critically acclaimed Kepler Quartet. Segnitz has appeared as the violin soloist in the world-premiere recordings of “In White” and “Partita in E” by Kamran Ince, and “Todo Buenos Aires” by Astor Piazzolla/John Adams. He has also produced several albums of folk music, and currently curates a Nordic fiddle festival every August in Door County WI.

More information on In the New Chamber can be found at