Take a sneak peek at the program!
*Present Music receives National Endowment for the Arts Grant for Home Place! Read the release here.*
For this community inspired event, Milwaukee Opera Theatre (MOT) will reunite with Present Music (PM) for an exploration of home and place. Music from Shelter, a collaborative piece by composers David Lang, Julia Wolfe, and Michael Gordon, and librettist Deborah Artman, investigate the various meanings and connotations of the word Shelter, from basic protection from the elements to the building of an American home. This piece will be accompanied by a film by Bill Morrison. Present Music's vocal ensemble, Hearing Voices, will also perform Passacaglia by Caroline Shaw, and Aheym by Bryce Dessner (accompanied by a video produced by Matthew Ritchie). Artistic Director Kevin Stalheim will concoct a festive circus of sound based on the event's theme of home and place. This concert will include a performance of original music and art by students and seniors in Milwaukee.
This performance is not recommended for young children.
Program subject to change.
Shelter by David Lang, Julia Wolfe, Michael Gordon, and Deborah Artman with video by Bill Morrison
Passacaglia by Caroline Shaw
Aheym by Bryce Dessner, with video by Matthew Ritchie
Milwaukee Opera Theatre
Milwaukee Opera Theatre was founded in 1998 by Charissa York Glazner, an enterprising young soprano who recognized the need for a community-based professional opera company in the Milwaukee area. York collaborated with singers, directors, and instrumentalists who were committed to producing operas readily accessible to the community in which they lived and worked.
During MOT’s premiere season (1999), the young company presented Mozart’s Cosi fan Tutti. The box-office success of that production, coupled with extraordinary community support, allowed MOT to expand its season to three productions the following year. Currently, MOT produces five to six projects each season, ranging from full productions to readings of new works, with special emphasis on local art and artists. MOT has had the pleasure of working with Present Music twice before, on last season's Judgment of Midas and the 2013 Thanksgiving Concert, and is thrilled to be working together once again on Home Place. www.milwaukeeoperatheatre.org
Passionate, prolific, and complicated, composer David Lang embodies the restless spirit of invention. Lang is at the same time deeply versed in the classical tradition and committed to music that resists categorization, constantly creating new forms. Musical America's 2013 Composer of the Year, Lang is one of America's most performed composers. Many of his works resemble each other only in the fierce intelligence and clarity of vision that inform their structures. His catalogue is extensive, and his opera, orchestra, chamber and solo works are by turns ominous, ethereal, urgent, hypnotic, unsettling and very emotionally direct. Lang is co-founder and co-artistic director of New York's legendary music collective, Bang on a Can.
Drawing inspiration from folk, classical, and rock genres, Julia Wolfe's music brings a modern sensibility to each while simultaneously tearing down the walls between them. Her music is distinguished by an intense physicality and a relentless power that pushes performers to extremes and demands attention from the audience. In the words of the Wall Street Journal, Wolfe has "long inhabited a terrain of [her] own, a place where classical forms are recharged by the repetitive patterns of minimalism and the driving energy of rock."
Michael Gordon's music merges subtle rhythmic invention with incredible power embodying, in the words of The New Yorker's Alex Ross, "the fury of punk rock, the nervous brilliance of free jazz and the intransigence of classical modernism." Over the past 25 years, Gordon has produced a strikingly diverse body of work, ranging from large-scale pieces for high-energy ensembles to major orchestral commissions to works conceived specifically for the recording studio. Transcending categorization, this music represents the collision of mysterious introspection and brutal directness.
Deborah Artman is a fiction writer, poet and librettist whose career has been defined by a restless urge to explore new forms and collaborate often with artists in other media. Her stories, poems and essays have appeared in numerous national journals, including American Short Fiction, Puerto del Sol and the New York Times Magazine. In addition to Acquanetta, her libretti include Shelter, a music-theater piece with composers David Lang, Julia Wolfe and Michael Gordon, which premiered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s 2005 Next Wave Festival.
Over the past twenty years, Bill Morrison has built a filmography of more than thirty projects that have been presented in theaters, museums, galleries and concert halls worldwide. His work often makes use of rare archival footage in which forgotten film imagery is reframed as part of our collective mythology.
Morrison's films are in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, The Nederlands Filmmuseum, and The Library of Congress. He is a Guggenheim fellow and has received the Alpert Award for the Arts, an NEA Creativity Grant, a Creative Capital grant, and a fellowship from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts. His work with Ridge Theater has been recognized with two Bessie awards and an Obie Award.
Bryce Dessner, who composes “gorgeous, full-hearted music” according to National Public Radio – seamlessly blends aspects of the classical and the popular in his concert works, the compositions simultaneously alive to past and present and the potential of the future. Dessner’s scores, described as “deft” and “vibrant” by The New York Times, draw on elements from Baroque and folk music, late Romanticism and modernism, minimalism and the blues, as well as the inspiration of iconic figures from Béla Bartók, Benjamin Britten and Henryk Górecki to Morton Feldman, Terry Riley, Philip Glass and Steve Reich. Such disparate American iconoclasts as John Fahey, La Monte Young and Glenn Branca also figure into this young composer’s sonic world. All these influences wind together to inform Dessner’s organic and individual voice as a composer.
Dessner’s Aheym, a 2013 album by the ever-trailblazing Kronos Quartet devoted to his compositions, was enthusiastically received. In the cross-cultural arts magazine Bomb, veteran avant-garde composer-guitarist Elliot Sharp wrote about Dessner’s compositional method in the title work: “a dramatic opening, dark and insistent, then a breath, then an emerging melodic seed… The seed ultimately grows… to a rousing climax.” The U.K’s Independent singled out the title work, describing it as “an elegant braiding of interlaced lines that pushes the music forward in waves.” WQXR’s contemporary music site Q2 made Aheym an Album of the Week, praising the music as “stunning, nostalgic and beautifully hypnotic.” Pitchfork declared Dessner’s compositions to be “fierce, vivid music.”
Caroline Shaw is a musician appearing in many guises. She performs primarily as violinist with the American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME) and as vocalist with Roomful of Teeth. Shaw’s original music has been described as “dazzling, emotionally generous” (New York Times) and “a tour de force of vocal mischief-making” (eMusic). Shaw has been a Yale Baroque Ensemble fellow and a Rice University Goliard fellow, and she was a recipient of the infamous Thomas J. Watson fellowship, to study historical formal gardens and live out of a backpack. In April of 2013, Shaw won the Pulitzer Prize in music for her work Partita, making her the youngest composer to receive this distinction. Shaw is currently a doctoral fellow at Princeton and lives in New York City.