Connecting In The Chamber

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Present Music Ensemble Member Cory Smythe and Grammy Win!

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Urban Milwaukee Dial
Shepherd Express
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Milwaukee Magazine
Flickr (Opening Night and Villa Terrace)
February 19, 2015
7:30 pm
Anodyne Coffee Roasting Co.
224 W. Bruce St.
Milwaukee WI 53204
Tickets are $25. Students are 50% off.
February 20, 2015
11:00 am
Villa Terrace
2220 N. Terrace Ave.
Milwaukee WI 53202
Tickets are $25. Students are 50% off.
February 20, 2015
7:30 pm
Anodyne Coffee Roasting Co.
224 W. Bruce St.
Milwaukee WI 53204
Tickets are $35. Students are 50% off.
February 21, 2015
7:30 pm
in the home of John Shannon and Jan Serr

Milwaukee WI 53211
Tickets are $80 and MUST be purchased in advance.

Subscribe now and secure your tickets for the season!

This performance is not recommended for young children.


*PM Ensemble Member Cory Smythe Wins Grammy!*

Read the press release here.


Click here for notes on the musical selections.


Concert Description

Bruce Adolphe, Stravinsky, Nico Muhly, Ravel, Sofia Gubaidulina, Gesualdo, Harry Partch, John Zorn, Mozart and Kamran Ince all come together for a series of intimate concerts connecting the old to the new. (Program subject to change.)

“Adolphe’s music is wonderfully evocative. It excites the ear and the mind.”Chicago Sun Times

“What’s interesting about John is the way he has managed to confound ideas about genre and tradition in a very truthful way that opened things up for a lot of younger people.” - George E. Lewis, New York Times


Reflections on the Theme B-A-C-H by Sofia Gubaidulina

Fortuna Sepio Nos by Kamran Ince (will be recorded for PM's 10th CD album)

Motion by Nico Muhly

Scarbo (No. 3 from Gaspard de la nuit) by Maurice Ravel

Selections from Histoire du soldat by Igor Stravinsky

Two Studies on Ancient Greek Scales by Harry Partch

Novalis by John Zorn

O Gesualdo Divine Tormentor by Bruce Adolphe (based on the music of Gesualdo)

Excerpts from Piano Sonata in B Flat Major, K. 281 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (improvisations by Cory Smythe)

John Zorn
Born and raised in New York City, composer John Zorn has been a central figure in the Downtown Scene since 1975, incorporating a wide variety of creative musicians into various compositional formats. His work is remarkably diverse and draws inspiration from Art, Literature, Film, Theatre, Philosophy, Alchemy and Mysticism.

Bruce Adolphe
Composer Bruce Adolphe has written music for many renowned musicians and ensembles, including Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, Joshua Bell, Sylvia McNair, the Brentano String Quartet, the Beaux Arts Trio, the Washington National Opera, the Metropolitan Opera Guild, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the IRIS Orchestra, and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.  

Highlights of the 2013-14 season included performances by the LA Chamber Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Cassatt Quartet at the Crystal Bridges Museum and the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton, and the premiere of The End of Tonight (poems by Nathalie Handal) for three female voices, three cellos, and piano at the Greene Space in New York. The 2012-13 season included a premiere commissioned for the opening ceremony of MoMath, the only museum of mathematics in America, and a premiere in Lucerne performed by the Human Rights Orchestra, as well as performances from Santa Fe to Lisbon.

Adolphe’s Self Comes to Mind, written with neuroscientist Antonio Damasio, premiered at the American Museum of Natural History in 2009 with soloist Yo-Yo Ma, and was released in 2014 as a CMS Live! download featuring cellist Efe Baltacigil in concert in Tully Hall. 

In addition to composing, Bruce Adolphe holds several positions concurrently: founder and director of the Meet the Music! family concert series and resident lecturer at The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center; creator/performer of  public radio’s weekly Piano Puzzler on Performance Today; co-artistic director of Off the Hook Festival in Colorado; founder and creative director of The Learning Maestros. The author of three books on music, Mr. Adolphe has taught at Yale, The Juilliard School, and New York University, and was recently appointed composer-in-residence at the Brain and Creativity Institute in Los Angeles. The second edition of his book The Mind's Ear: Exercises for Improving the Musical Imagination was published by Oxford University Press in 2013.

Sofia Gubaidulina
Sofia Gubaidulina is, together with Schnittke and Denisov, one of three major Moscow composers of the post-Shostakovich era. Of half-Tartar, half-Slav extraction, her music strikingly combines spiritual and dramatic, with daring and transparently original colours. One of earliest Soviet composers to show a deep interest in religious themes, Gubaidulina's music can at one extreme be improvisatory (her music has been labeled "irresponsible" for it's exploration of alternatue tunings) such as Garden of Joys and Sorrows for flute, viola and harp, and at the other extreme be strictly organised on ancient mystical principles such as the orchestral works Symphony: Stimmen… verstummen and Zeitgestalten. She has a particular interest in setting visionary and prophetic texts by T.S.Eliot, Marina Tsvetaeva and Gennadi Aigi. Her aural imagination developed through sonic experiments in her film music. Gubaidulina has been commissioned by world’s finest performers including Gidon Kremer, Yuri Bashmet, Mstislav Rostropovich, the Kronos and Arditti Quartets, Gennady Rozhdestvensky and Sir Simon Rattle.
Nico Muhly

Nico Muhly has composed a wide scope of work for ensembles, soloists and organizations including the American Symphony Orchestra, Boston Pops, Carnegie Hall, Chicago Symphony, countertenor Iestyn Davies, violinist Hilary Hahn, choreographer Benjamin Millepied, New York City Ballet, New York Philharmonic, Paris Opéra Ballet, soprano Jessica Rivera, and designer/illustrator Maira Kalman.  Born in Vermont in 1981 and raised in Providence, Rhode Island, Muhly graduated from Columbia University with a degree in English Literature.  In 2004, he received a Masters in Music from the Juilliard School, where he studied under Christopher Rouse and John Corigliano.

Cory Smythe
Pianist Cory Smythe engages a broad repertoire of new, classical, and improvised music. He has performed widely, making frequent appearances with Present Music, with the International Contemporary Ensemble, and in recital with violinist Hilary Hahn. The Washington Post recently praised Smythe for “…the ferocity and finesse of his technique.” His debut album of original and improvised material, Pluripotent, is available for free download at
Last season, their album In 27 Pieces, documenting Hahn’s diverse collection of commissioned encores, was released to critical acclaim on Deutsche Grammophon. It won a Grammy award for Best Chamber/Small Ensemble performance on February 8, 2015. This marks the first time a PM ensemble member has won a Grammy.

Harry Partch
Partch was born in Oakland, California, on June 24, 1901, and spent much of his early years in the American Southwest, where he was exposed to music and sound from a variety of cultures.  He enrolled at the University of Southern California to study composition, but was dissatisfied and ultimately left to work on his own.  After discovering the work of Hermann von Helmholtz, Partch began to explore just intonation, and ultimately settled on this system for his compositional needs.  He invented his Adapted Viola in New Orleans, Louisiana, and began setting poems by Li Po for his new instrument and voice.
While his early work was met with some support and small grants, the Great Depression forced Harry to spend many years as a transient, and only rarely was he able to continue his artistic work.  It was during these years that Partch collected the texts and experiences that would later form the basis for The Wayward. In the period from 1941 - 1956, he composed and rewrote over a dozen works, invented and built over a dozen instruments, arranged several performances and recordings of his works, and wrote the first edition of his book, Genesis of a Music.
In 1956, Partch began a very fruitful residency at the University of Illinois where he found support for his compositions and performances.  Here he composed another five works, and continued inventing and building instruments to meet his increasing compositional needs.  Harry left the University of Illinois in 1962, moving to California, where he spent the last twelve years of his life in various locations near the California Coastline.  These years would see more creative work, major productions of his total-theater pieces, and a greatly-expanded second edition of his book.  Harry Partch died in San Diego, California, on September 3, 1974.

Kamran Ince 
The music of Turkish/American composer Kamran Ince bridges Anatolia and Balkans to the West. The energy and rawness of Turkish and Balkan folk music, the spirituality of Byzantium and Ottoman court music, the tradition of European art music and the extravert and popular qualities of the American psyche are the base of his sound world. These ingredients happily breathe in cohesion, and they spin the linear and vertical contrasts so essential to his music forward.
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