Founded and based in Milwaukee since 1982, Present Music has worked closely with many of the nation's most exciting and important composers, and has firmly established one of the largest audiences for new music in the country.
Six times a year, Artistic Director Kevin Stalheim develops a program to be performed in Milwaukee by the Present Music ensemble, which ranges from a core group of seven musicians to an ensemble of twenty. The ensemble expands and contracts to allow for a diversity of instrumental combinations and the requirements of each program. The artists that make up Present Music engage audiences by presenting concert experiences that are artistic events in their own right and have been described as "crackling with wit and intelligence," "wildly varied," "fun," and "unpredictable."
Adding to the national catalog of innovative new music, Present Music has commissioned more than fifty major new works in the past dozen years. Composers who have worked in residence or have been commissioned by Present Music include Pulitzer-prize winning composers such as John Adams, Henry Brant and David Lang, and such luminaries as Michael Torke, Elena Kats-Chernin, Kamran Ince, Roberto Sierra, Annie Gosfield, Bright Sheng, Jerome Kitzke, and Daron Hagen. Present Music also works with many of today’s most exciting emerging composer, including recent commissioned works by Caroline Mallonee, Ryan Carter, Judd Greenstein, Missy Mazzoli, Alexandra DuBois, and many others.
Present Music shows the world that Milwaukee is a center for creativity by touring regularly throughout the United States and has participated in major international music festivals including the 1992 Interlink Festival of New American Music in Japan, the Bang on a Can Festival in New York City, the 1999 Istanbul International Music Festival with the Istanbul Symphony, Beijing and Shanghai, China in 2005, and most recently, at Columbia University’s Composer Portrait Series in New York City.
Present Music can be heard on nine compact disc recordings that include the composers Kamran Ince, Michael Torke, Jerome Kitzke, Kimmo Hakola, Daniel Lentz, Joseph Koykkar, Randall Woolf, Armando Luna and Elena Kats-Chernin on the Naxos, Argo, innova, Albany, and Northeastern labels.