Kevin Stalheim, Artistic Director


World Premieres by Jerome Kitzke, Michael Torke and Kimmo Hakola




Music Commissioned and Premiered by Present Music



Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Kevin Stalheim, Artistic Director & Conductor


Haunted America (2002) by Jerome Kitzke

Commissioned by Arthur and Nancy Laskin and the Present Music Board of Directors


Song of Isaiah (2002) by Michael Torke

Commissioned by Richard and Suzanne Pieper in honor of Present Music and Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland O.S.B.


Chamber Concerto (2002) by Kimmo Hakola

Commissioned by Robert and Dense Jacquart (Jacquart Fabric Products--Ironwood, MI) & Ronald and Bett Jacquart

  1. Furioso 4:09
  2. Tempestoso 2:48
  3. Amoroso 11:36
  4. Forza con fuoco 6:42
  5. Misterioso 6:26


*  Additional funding for these commissions and the world premiere recordings has been provided by:  The American Composer Forum, The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Greater Milwaukee Foundation, John Shannon & Jan Serr, Rockwell Automation; the American-Scandinavian Foundation, The Embassy of Finland, Stora Enso North America, the Present Music Board of Directors and over 150 individual donors to the Present Music Commission Fund. 



Present Music Ensemble

Kevin Stalheim, conductor (Kitzke)

Michael Torke conductor (Torke)

Kimmo Hakola (Hakola)


Marie Sander, flute (Hakola)

William Helmers, clarinet, bass clarinet; voice (Kitzke, Torke, Hakola)

Sean McNeely, clarinet (Torke)

Linda Donahue, oboe; english horn (Hakola)

Donald Sipe, trumpet (Hakola)

Eric Segnitz, violin; voice (Kitzke, Torke, Hakola)

Sharan Leventhal, violin (Torke, Torke)

Brek Renzelman, viola (Torke, Hakola)

Karl Lavine, cello; voice  (Kitzke, Torke, Hakola)

Collins Trier, bass (Torke, Hakola)

Jerome Kitzke, voice (Kitzke)

Cheryl Bensman Rowe, voice (Torke)

Terry Smirl, percussion; voice (Kitzke, Torke, Hakola)

Linda Siegel, percussion (Torke)

Phillip Bush, piano; keyboard; voice (Kitzke, Torke, Hakola)



Text for Song of Isaiah

Part 1              For you shall go out with joy,

And be led out with peace;

The mountains and the hills

Shall break forth into singing before you,

And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.


Refrain 1:        Forever. All flesh is grass.

And all its loveliness is like the flower of the field.

The grass withers, the flower fades,

But the word of our God stands forever.


Part 2              In the haunts where jackals once lay,

grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.


Refrain 2:        Because the breath of the Lord blows upon it.


Part 3              They will soar on wings like eagles;

they will run and not grow weary,

they will walk and not be faint.

Refrain 1


Part 4              Then will the lame leap like a deer,

and the mute tongue shout for joy.

Refrain 2


Part 5              For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,

And do not return there,

But water the earth,

And make it bring forth and bud



Part 6              Then will the eyes of the blind be opened

and the ears of the deaf unstopped.

Refrain 2


Part 7              Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree,

and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.

This will be for the Lord’s renown,

for an everlasting sign,

which will not be destroyed.

Refrain 1


Part 8              The burning sand will become a pool,

the thirsty ground bubbling springs.

Refrain 2


Part 9 (1)         For you shall go out with joy,

And be led out with peace;

The mountains and the hills

Shall break forth into singing before you,

And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

Refrain 1


(Book of Isaiah, 35: 5-7, 40: 6-8, 40: 31, 55: 10, 55: 12-13)



Text for Haunted America

As in many of Jerome Kitzke’s works, the instrumentalists are asked to vocalize non-verbally or even nonsensically.  Amidst all of this, however, they do intermittently say:


Hey America!

What haunts you?

Do You Know?

When will we end the human war? (Ginsberg)

You know we can’t!

What can we do?

We must just live!

(Jerome Kitzke)



Notes for Present Music Haunted America Compact Disc Recording

by Tom Strini


Many critics regard the present as a time of woe, decay and impending apocalypse for Western art music. They point with alarm to an aging, shrinking audience, slumping recording sales, and a free-ranging pluralism that makes uniform standards impossible.


Yes, the world has changed, but not necessarily for the worse. It depends on perspective. It's easier to be optimistic in Milwaukee. Here, a daring new-music ensemble is part of the landscape. It has a large, age-diverse audience and a repertoire that makes a case for the early third millennium as a golden age of composition.


Present Music brings to Milwaukee (and through discs and touring, to the wider world) an abundance of smart and passionate new work filtered through the open mind and discerning taste of music director Kevin Stalheim. Stalheim's group plays a broad spectrum of contemporary styles, but his focus has been on the generation that came of age since 1980.


This cohort of composers definitely cares if you listen. Many of them grew up with rock 'n' roll. Electronic instruments are givens, just another family of instruments to call upon. They can write for symphony orchestras and opera companies, but their natural habitat is the flexible chamber music ensemble. Present Music can grow from a soloist to 20 players, every one of them highly skilled and committed to new music. Several members have commissioned works themselves, on behalf of the group.


Present Music attracts composers who came up thinking of Minimalism, not Serialism, as modern music. They are comfortable with pulsation and consonance, but they don't stop there. They are a voracious lot that borrows freely from techniques and processes from the whole history of Western music -- jazz and pop as well as art. Many of them are keenly aware of music of other cultures and assimilate elements of it in savvy ways. They tend to be superb musicians, and most of them are formidable performers.


The composers Stalheim favors often have common influences and philosophies, but no two of them sound alike. The selections on this disc, all commissioned for the group's 20th season in 2001-'02, attest to the high quality and dizzying variety of Present Music's repertoire.


Jerome Kitzke, a native Milwaukeean long ago transplanted to New York, has a relationship going back to Present Music's first concert. Native American music and culture have had a major impact on his outlook and his music, which often incorporates drumming, chants and shouts associated with Indian musical idiom.


Kitzke's Haunted America is a response to the atrocities of September 11 in New York.  It is neither elegiac nor jingoistic, but a boisterous and fantastical rush of dark humor, bounding dances, ecstatic beauty, spellbound meditation, rhythmic glossolalia, maniacal laughter, hushed hymn and ardent lamentation. This visceral yet painstakingly notated music benefits greatly from Kitzke's rich, rugged voice. He is the lead singer, chanter and reciter on this recording (the clarinetist, violinist, percussionist and pianist in the piece also vocalize).


"No matter what happens in life," Kitzke said, "there's still a place for exuberance and joy and love. That's why the piece has those things in it. It has some gritty things, too, that reflect the way I was feeling about events and politics at that time. Of course my feelings were all over the place. My piece is basically about going on and living, but also asking questions about how we live and how we think of ourselves."


Michael Torke is another Milwaukee export to New York. He, too, has a long history with Present Music. But unlike the intuitive Kitzke, Torke is systematic.


A persistent rhythmic figure, arch form, a circle-of-fifths key plan and phasing rhythmic relations unify Song of Isaiah. Parts 1, 3, 7 and 9 relate to one another, as do the even-numbered parts. At the most obvious level, the rhythmic tapping that runs through the whole piece sounds on claves in even sections and on tambourine in odd ones – except for the pivotal section 5. There, and only there, the triangle takes over. The harmony is diatonic, but frequently dissonant and far from common-practice tonality. Chord coloration is one intuitive field within the tightly controlled structure.


The sections match nine joyful verses, sung by a soprano, from the Biblical Book of Isaiah. The clarinets, percussion, piano and string quintet do not really accompany the voice, which is just part of the mix. Soprano and instruments alike sometimes sing long, sustained lines, but more often percolate through popping, staccato, syncopated bits. Each section works toward rhythmic unisons.


"They're not really climaxes," Torke said, of these moments when the layered rhythms align. "They're more like confirmations. I didn't want to disturb the meditation of the music; I wanted it like a prayer from beginning to end. I'm trying to find the peace inside, not express those tensions. The rhythm is uplifting and makes you want to dance, and yet it's meditative. The music is animated, yet peaceful. I think that's an interesting result."


Scores and recordings from publishers all over the world land on Stalheim's doorstep by the dozen, and he spends a great deal of time sifting them. Present Music's repertoire has come to include music from China to England to the Americas.


He was intrigued with Finnish composer Kimmo Hakola who, like Torke and Kitzke, is in his 40s. Unlike the two Americans, Hakola had no prior connection to Present Music or Milwaukee.


Stalheim commissioned the Chamber Concerto on this disc before he'd met Hakola face-to-face. The composer responded with a substantial, five-movement work for flute, oboe (doubling English horn), clarinet, trumpet, piano and string quintet. This concerto-for-mini-orchestra assumes virtuoso skill on the part of every player. At the premiere and on this recording, the ensemble gives it just the combination of ferocity, abandon and precision that this dense and highly charged music requires.


The mode is Expressionist. Parts of the concerto bring to mind the Bartok of the late string quartets. Hakola's remarks about the opening "Furioso" might well be applied to a Bartok quartet: "(It) is the hectic babble of voices in which each has something important to say but is given no room in which to say it. At the end, agreement is reached on the procedure to be observed. There is something very Kafkan about this."


Hakola reveals a wholly unexpected gift for soaring melody in the third movement, "Amoroso." The English horn spins out an impossibly long theme and the trumpet responds in kind, as strings, piano and vibraphone release a perfumed sonic atmosphere. The melodies remain coherent despite their length and through-composition. They curl irregularly as they spin out, like tendrils of a twining vine - ever the same, but continually new.


The music bears out Stalheim's characteristically pithy summation of the composer's style: "He's not afraid to write a tune. But he's not afraid to be gritty, either."


That statement could apply to Present Music's repertoire as a whole.


-- Tom Strini is music and dance critic for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel



Composer Biographies & Photos:


Photo credit:  ??

Jerome Kitzke lives in New York City, but grew up along the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan in Milwaukee, where he was born in 1955.  Since his first work in 1970, he has thought himself to be as much a storyteller as a composer. Some of the stories are about life's personal roads, like The Redness of Blood, which expresses the composer's love for his blood family. Many, however, like Box Death Hollow and The Paha Sapa Give-Back are about the roads that go looking for what it means to be an American early in the 21st Century, especially as it relates to the connection between how we live on this land and the way we came to live on it. Kitzke's music celebrates American Vitality in its purest forms. It thrives on the spirit of driving jazz, Plains Indian song, and Beat Generation poetry, where freedom and ritual converge. It is direct, dramatic, and visceral, always with an ear to the sacred ground. 


Mr. Kitzke composes for and performs with his group The Mad Coyote. His music has been performed in North and South America, Europe and Australia.  Commissions have come from such diverse sources as Present Music, Kronos Quartet, Zeitgeist, Trio AKKOBASSO, Essential Music, Guy Klucevsek, Anthony de Mare and Tom Kolor.  Recordings include “The Character of American Sunlight” on Koch International and “Regina Takes the Holy Road, 3 December 1994” recorded by Michael Lowenstern on his New World Records release, “Spasm.”  Mr. Kitzke’s music is published by Peer Music in New York City.



Michael Torke (photo credit; Robin Holland)

The music of Michael Torke has been called “some of the most optimistic, joyful and thoroughly uplifting music to appear in recent years” (Gramophone).  Hailed as a “vitally inventive composer” (Financial Times) and “a master orchestrator whose shimmering timbral palette makes him the Ravel of his generation” (New York Times), Michael Torke has created a substantial body of works in virtually every genre, each with a characteristic personal stamp that combines restless rhythmic energy with ravishingly beautiful melodies.


Recent projects include a millennium symphony commission from Michael Eisner and the Walt Disney Company, performed by Kurt Masur and the New York Philharmonic, Strawberry Fields, written with A.R. Gurney for Great Performances and New York City Opera, and The Contract, an evening length story ballet for James Kudelka and the National Ballet of Canada.  Current projects include a New York City Opera commission, House of Mirth (again with a libretto by A. R. Gurney), a new story ballet for the National Ballet of Canada based on The Italian Straw Hat, and a music theater meditation on Marcel Carne’s Children of Paradise, for John Kelly & Co.


This November, Naxos released a newly recorded orchestral CD of works, including An American Abroad, commissioned and performed by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra during Torke’s residency with that orchestra.  The fall of 2002 has also seen the launch of Ecstatic Records, a label established to re-release the complete music formally recorded by Argo/Decca Records, available at www.michaeltorke.com.  The sole agent for Torke’s music is Boosey and Hawkes.


(Photo credit: Johanna Mannila)

Kimmo Hakola, born July 27, 1958 is considered one of the most interesting composer names of Finnish musical life. Hakola studied at the Sibelius Academy under Einojuhani Rautavaara and Eero Hämeenniemi and won the Unesco Composers' Rostrum in 1987 with his String Quartet – a work that was acknowledged as a masterpiece and consequently played over radio networks in more than 30 countries. In 1991 Hakola won the Unesco Rostrum again with his work Capriole for cello and clarinet.  Hakola's music has been performed at several major music events including the ISCM World Music Days as well as at the new music festivals of Edinburgh, Huddersfield, Witten and Ars Musica in Bruxelles, among others. He was one of the featured composers at the 1998 Musica Nova festival in Helsinki.  The music of Kimmo Hakola is a combination of uncompromising dramatic power and exceptional musical quality.  Kimmo Hakola is the composer-in-residence of the Joensuu City Orchestra. He has acted as Artistic Director of the Musica nova festival in Helsinki since 1999. 



(Present Music Ensemble Photo: credit Tom Bamberger)


Kevin Stalheim, Artistic Director


Present Music is one of the leading ensembles specializing in new music in the United States.  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 a large audience for new music.  Since 1982 Present Music commissioned and premiered over 30 new works in Milwaukee by many of today’s most exciting composers.  Present Music programs include a 6-concert series in Milwaukee, a 5-concert series in Madison, tours, recordings, broadcasts, and education programs for K-12 children and regular touring and broadcast opportunities. 


Present Music has toured extensively throughout the United States and has participated in several 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, and, most recently, with the Istanbul Symphony at the “1999 Istanbul International Music Festival.”  Future tours for Present Music include performances in Shanghai and Beijing in May of 2003.


Present Music has received numerous important national grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Reader’s Digest / Meet the Composer Commissioning Program, the Aaron Copland Fund for American Music, BMI, as well as winning the ASCAP/CMA Adventuresome Programming award an unprecedented three times in the past seven years. 


Present Music can be heard on eight compact disc recordings that include the composers Kamran Ince, Michael Torke, Jerome Kitzke, Kimmo Hakola, Daniel Lentz and Joseph Koykkar on the Innova, Argo, Albany, and Northeastern labels.










Recording Information:


Haunted America by Jerome Kitzke

Recorded: June 2, 2002 – New Horizon Studio, Milwaukee, WI

Recording Engineers:  Ric Probst and Steve Kutgen or Remote Planet, Milwaukee, WI

Producer:  Jerome Kitzke, Kevin Stalheim

Mixing and Editing:  Jerome Kitzke, Ric Probst, Kevin Stalheim

Publisher:  Peer Music, New York


Song of Isaiah by Michael Torke

Recorded:  April 21, 2002 – Plymouth Church, Milwaukee, WI

Recording Engineers:  Ric Probst and Steve Kutgen or Remote Planet, Milwaukee, WI

Producer:  Michael Torke, Kevin Stalheim

Mixing & Editing:  Michael Torke, Ric Probst, Kevin Stalheim,

Publisher:  Boosey & Hawkes, New York; London


Chamber Concerto by Kimmo Hakola

Recorded:  March 17, 2002 – Plymouth Church, Milwaukee, WI

Recording Engineers:  Ric Probst and Steve Kutgen or Remote Planet, Milwaukee, WI

Producer: Kimmo Hakola, Kevin Stalheim

Mixing & Editing:  Kimmo Hakola, Ric Probst, Kevin Stalheim

Publisher:  Warner/Chappell Music - Finland




For more information on Present Music:

Web Site:  www.presentmusic.org

E-mail:  [email protected]

TEL:  414.271.0711

FAX:  414.271.7998


Present Music

1840 N. Farwell Avenue, Suite #301

Milwaukee, WI  53202


Present Music is supported in part by funds provided by The National Endowment for the Arts, Aaron Copland Fund for American Music, the Wisconsin Arts Board, Milwaukee County, the City of Milwaukee Arts Board, United Performing Arts Fund in Milwaukee and contributions from corporations, foundations and individuals. 


Midwest Express is the official airline of Present Music (logo). 


Present Music ©




(Lib. of Congress photo of woman placing sticker on box ?)