For those of us who call Miltown home, whether we be natives or transplants, it's sometimes hard to imagine that our humble, mid-sized burg can and does attract artists and produce artistic works of such high caliber that folks residing in the far reaches of the world sit up straight and take notice, and yet it is so. One of the most active and acclaimed organizations to consistently bring positive artsy attention to our big-small town is Present Music, and its 2009-2010 season opener tomorrow night, September 12, at Turner Hall Ballroom serves as undeniable proof that Milwaukee does have creative greatness circulating through the very air it breathes.
Scoring a live headlining performance by composer Gabriel Kahane, Present Music rightly aids and abets the phenomenal amount of praise the 28 year-old youngster has received in recent years--and I'm not talkin' about a few good reviews and honorable mentions in some obscure music outlets, I'm talkin' prefixmag, WNYC Soundcheck on NPR Music, The New York Times, and--for the love of all that is art and not money!--The Wall Street Journal. No lie, this kid has whipped up more frenzied applause from an even more diverse crowd than then-Senator/now-President Barack Obama at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, and that's a whole a lotta love.
Mixing pop, classical, jazz and avant-garde elements, Kahane first hit the shores of the proverbial big time last year with his Craigslistlieder, an eight-movement musical ode to the dearly ridiculous and supremely sad anonymous personal postings found on craigslist.org. You can hear all eight movements here for free. Also, here's a video of Kahane performing the fourth movement "Neurotic and Lonely" live:
Along with Kahane, those in attendance will be treated to a performance by Present Music and Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (MSO) clarinetist Bill Helmers as he works his horn in and around John Adams' Gnarly Buttons. Co-commissioned by Present Music and the London Sinfonietta in 1996, an excerpt of the third movement "Put Your Loving Arms Around Me" can be heard here.
As an added bonus, Present Music will be hosting a post-concert party, featuring full bar access, free "Gnarly Buttons Brownie Pie" handcrafted by Anne Broda, an interactive video installation for peeps to take a peek at upcoming PM guest artists, and a raffle for three überawesome prizes. The top raffle prize winner will spend an entire evening conversing amiably, dining extravagantly and dancing divinely with PM Artistic Director Kevin Stalheim! Okay, I'm not entirely certain Stalheim will go for a trip around the dance floor, but maybe if ya ask real nice your wish will come true--fingers crossed!
Present Music's Steve Ahearn told me today that tickets at both the $20 and $30 level are still available, but Cricky readers can save a whopping 20% if they buy their tickets in advance today--Whoot! All ya have to do is order online at the Turner Hall Ballroom website and enter the word "buzz" in the coupon code box. Or you can call 414-271-0711 and say, "Hey, Mack, coupon code word is buzz." Do it now!