Kamran Ince


Present Music

Kevin Stalheim, Artistic Director





Kamran Ince


  1. Flight Box (2001)*  12:58


Kevin Stalheim, conductor

Ron Foster, soprano saxophone

Bill Helmers, alto saxophone

John Hibler, tenor saxophone

Don Sipe, trumpet

Brain McCreath, trumpet

Dave Lussier, trombone

Mark Hoelscher, bass trombone

Terry Smirl, percussion

Eric Segnitz, electric bass

Kamran Ince, keyboard

Susan Waterbury, violin

Karl Lavine, cello

Emily Benson, Dean Fowler, Marjorie Fowler, Jenny Gettel, Bruce Sotto, Andrew Stillman, Christine Thomas, singers


Commissioned by John Shannon and Jan Serr for Present Music in honor of the opening of the Santiago Calatrava-designed addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum.


2. MKG Variations (1999) 11:31

Karl Lavine, cello



3. In White (1999)  18:21

Concerto for violin and chamber ensemble


Kevin Stalheim, conductor

Eric Segnitz, violin solo

Marie Sander, flute

Ronald Foster, Bill Helmers, saxophones

Cheryl Bensman Rowe, voice

Paul Rowe, voice

Daniel Armstrong, bass

Phillip Bush, keyboard


4. In Memoriam  8/17/99* (1999) 13:41

Philip Bush, piano

* Date of major earthquakes in Turkey


5. Turquoise (1996)*  10:12


Eric Segnitz, violin

Paul Gmeinder, cello

Marie Sander, flute

William Helmers, clarinet

Terry Smirl, percussion

Kevin Stalheim, trumpet

Kamran Ince, keyboard


Commissioned by Present Music through participation in the Music In Motion project with major funding from the Lila Wallace Readers Digest Fund and The Pew Charitable Trusts.



KAMRAN INCE: Recent Compositions (September 2003)


“I am not a Germanic composer,” a defensive Kamran Ince once scolded me.  I had made the mistake of commenting to him — half-seriously, half-jokingly — that I thought a theme which popped up in his then-new Fourth Symphony might develop into what I labeled “a full Mahlerian scherzo.”


Don’t go looking for scherzos, Mahlerian or otherwise, in this composer’s work.  “Although my music has become more developmental recently,” he continued, “that is not what I live for.  Psychological effects, reactions, blocks, the use of time, different perceptions and play with memory are what I am about.”  And ever since he burst onto the new-music scene in the mid-1980s, Kamran Ince has been dreaming up some of the most astounding, original and occasionally confounding music written in the past half-century.


Once, when I was attempting to match up his musical vocabulary with his personal history, I thought to ask Ince if, given his proclivity for apocalyptic percussion effects, he was a noisy child.  “My mother tells me I was always playing with the pots and pans,” he replied, followed by his trademark high-pitched laugh.  (This answer came as no great surprise.)


Born in Montana in 1960 to American and Turkish parents, Ince moved to Ankara at age six and grew up with a strict musical regimen administered by his father.  In his teens, he was made to write a piece of music every day.  “I couldn’t leave the house to go to basketball practice until I had written something, even if it was just a minute long,” he told me.


This composer’s music spans two worlds: the ancient empires based in Asia Minor in the days when Constantinople/Istanbul was a seat of great power and civilization, and the modern global community, where technological advances have reduced many borders to little more than notional lines on a map.  The present collection of five works serves as a sort of audio time machine, drawing us from the cultural stew of the future back through the mists of antiquity.


Flight Box for chamber orchestra was commissioned for the 2001 inauguration of architect Santiago Calatrava’s Quadracci Pavilion at the Milwaukee Art Museum.  Visiting the construction site, Ince was left with two contrasting impressions — of the freedom of flight and of the stability and grandeur of a great ship at sea.  He made many trans-Atlantic crossings during the work’s gestation (he maintains teaching posts in Memphis and Istanbul) and he views the score as his intimate diary of the primal feelings conjured by global travel.  The players are required to sing or narrate in Turkish at various times; the words were selected for their onomatopoetic value, and in one section the cacophony suggest a momentous public occasion.  After the events of 11 September 2001, Ince was reticent to use the title Flight Box, fearing it could be misinterpreted as a reference to the devices used to record cockpit conversation and data on airplanes — and, accordingly, as a comment on the attacks.  He ultimately chose not to change the title, deciding that the work is “a diary of a flight which reaches its destination safely.”


Despite his wholesale denial of influence by any one composer, Ince admits that MKG Variations gives a nod to Bach: it stands alongside the unaccompanied cello suites in overall tone, and like the Goldberg Variations, it starts with a searching, introspective theme which is repeated at the work’s end after a series of variations ranging from delicate and tender to complex and raw.  Heard here in its original version for cello, MKG Variations also exists in a gorgeous transcription for solo guitar.


Commissioned by violinist Susan Waterbury, In White consists of three slow movements, inspired by the lines and shapes of the great Christian and Muslim architectural wonders of Asia Minor, alternating with two fast movements that reflect the driven, irregular meters and passion of Turkish folk music.  This concerto for violin and chamber ensemble (augmented by distant, wordless voices) is marked by soaring melodies and achingly beautiful lyricism — while all of Ince’s music is sensuous, this may be his most overtly romantic work.


The composer was deeply affected by the destruction wrought by the catastrophic earthquake that hit the Marmara region of Turkey on 17 August 1999 and its subsequent aftershocks.  In Memoriam: 8/17/99 was written from October through December of that year, and of the piece Ince will say only that it represents his own emotional response to the disaster.


Ince relates that the title of Turquoise is the French word meaning “Turkish” as well as the name of the greenish-blue gemstone used in the lavish decorative arts of the Ottoman court.  The hallmarks of the piece are its use of heterophony (the application by individual players to an essentially unison melodic line of slight variations and embellishments which give the melody a sense of depth and space) and lightning-fast changes in meter and texture.  The driving force that permeates Turquoise might be inspired by rock’n’roll, or perhaps by the unrelenting waves of the Black Sea, or possibly both.  And can you hear those pots and pans?


Of the disc as a whole, says Ince, “This is the story of my drama and my sound world… Of course, you can think that everything I say here is bullshit; this is possible and I would not mind it.  Music is subjective — that’s why it is so great.”



Larry L. Lash is a Vienna-based performing arts writer for the Financial Times and a regular contributor to Opera News and




Kamran Ince


Kamran Ince has been hailed by The Los Angeles Times as "that rare composer able to sound connected with modern music, end yet still seem exotic."  Major orchestras and ensembles around the world have performed his work.  Concerts devoted to his music recently took place at the Holland Festival, CBC Encounter Series (Toronto), the Istanbul International Festival, and

Estoril Festival (Lisbon).  His works include pieces for large symphony orchestra, chamber ensembles, and ballet and film scores.


Among his recent works are Concerto for Orchestra, Turkish Instruments and Voices, commissioned by Turkish Ministry of Culture; Symphony No. 4 (Sardis), inspired by the ancient Anatolian civilization and commissioned by U.C. Berkeley archeologist Crawford Greenewalt; one for eight, a work commissioned by the Stichting Het Kersjes van de Groenekan Fonds for the Amsterdam-based Cello Octet Conjunto Iberico; and FEST for orchestra and new music ensemble, written for the orchestras of Milwaukee, Dayton, Albany and Present Music, recently released on CD (Brutal Reality, TROY/Albany 354). Symphony No. 2 (Fall of Constantinople); Remembering Lycia, a piano concerto for Alan Feinberg; and Arches have been released on Decca¹s Argo label (Fall of Constantinople, Argo 455 151-2).  Two CDs of his chamber music are available: Kamran Ince (Northeastern NR 254) and Kamran Ince & Friends (TROY/Albany 310). His film scores for Love Under Siege and Aphrodisiac are available in Turkey on the Universal/RAKS label (Kamran Ince Music for Films, RAKS 9719514), and for Sarkici (Universal 9710013).  Mr. Ince recently conducted and recorded a new CD with the Prague Symphony Orchestra which will include his Symphony No. 3 (Siege of Vienna), Symphony No. 4 (Sardis), and Domes. It will be released by Universal Turkey (worldwide DG or Decca). Gates for solo piano, performed by Ruya Taner, was just released on the A.K. label (EMI Turkey--408-301-2), and Sheherazade Alive, performed by the Onder Piano Duo, is to be released by EMI Classics in 2003. Waves of Talya (on the Northeastern disc and soon to be reissued by A.K. label) was named one of the best chamber works of the 20th Century by a living American composer in the June 2000 issue of Chamber Music Magazine.


Istathenople for bozouki, mandolin, clarinet and ensemble was commissioned and premiered by Present Music in September of 2003. Upcoming works to be written include music for the Turkish film Tramvay (Tram) (2003); an orchestra piece commissioned by the Istanbul International Festival (2004); a large chamber work commissioned by Relache Ensemble of Philadelphia (2004); his 5th Symphony commissioned by Muzikotek to be written for the 100th anniversary of Galatasaray (a Turkish soccer club which won the UEFA and Europe¹s Super Cup in 2000) (2005); and an opera titled Judgment of Midas commissioned by Prof. Crawford Greenwalt for the 100th year of Sardis/Lydia excavation (sponsored by Harvard and Cornell Universities) (2007).


Ince was born in Montana in 1960 to American and Turkish parents and lived in Turkey between 1966 and 1980.  He holds a doctorate from Eastman School of Music and is currently Professor of Composition at the University of Memphis in addition to being co-director of MIAM (Center for Advanced Research in Music) and its Advanced Studies in Music program at the Istanbul Technical University.  His numerous prizes include the Prix de Rome, the Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Lili Boulanger Prize.



Bios for Eric Segnitz, Karl Lavine, Phillip Bush


Karl Lavine, cello


Prior to joining the Milwaukee Based new music ensemble Present Music, cellist Karl Lavine held faculty positions at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa and Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Illinois. Currently he is teaching at Edgewood College in Madison.  As a member of the newly formed Kepler Quartet he is currently recording all 10 string quartets of the American composer, Ben Johnston which will be produced by John Zorn at Tzadik records and funded in part by a generous grant from the Aaron Copland Fund for Music Recording Program. As a chamber musician he has also performed with faculty members of Lawrence University, Beloit College, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and with members of the Pro Arte Quartet.  Currently he is principal cellist with the Madison Symphony and Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and maintains a private studio in Madison.


He holds degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the State University of New York at Stony Brook.  Between degrees he attended the Banff School of Fine Arts in Canada for two years as a member of the resident piano trio and was principal cello for an 18 month European tour of the Broadway musical ‘West Side Story’ before returning to Madison, Wisconsin to join Present Music.




Eric Segnitz, violin


Eric Segnitz is a violinist, composer/arranger, and a charter member of Present Music. He attended the New England Conservatory and the Banff Centre for the Arts.  Some highlights include studies with Rudolf Kolisch of the Kolisch Quartet, and Zoltan Szekely of the Hungarian String Quartet.


As an orchestral player, Eric has performed with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and held concertmaster positions with many regional orchestras.  He is also a composer and arranger of plays, television, film, and concert works, published by Hal Leonard.


His recording credits include work for the Argo and Innova labels, and as producer he has worked with the Albany, Northeastern, LML, Dargason, Narada, and Tzadik labels. He can be heard as a soloist on a recent Albany release premiering a work by John Adams.



Phillip Bush, Piano


Phillip Bush is a pianist of uncommon versatility, with a repertoire extending from the sixteenth century to the twenty-first. In 2001 he made his Carnegie Hall concerto debut

with the London Sinfonietta, and has also appeared as soloist with the Osaka Century Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony, Houston Symphony, and several other orchestras.  One of the busiest chamber musicians among American pianists, Mr. Bush has performed and recorded with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and has also appeared with the Kronos Quartet and Miami String Quartet. He performs frequently on New York's Bargemusic series, and his many festival appearances have included Grand Canyon, Bridgehampton, Strings in the Mountains (Colorado), Sitka (Alaska), St. Bart's, Bahamas, Music at Blair Atholl (Scotland), and Cape May, among others. A fierce advocate for contemporary music, Phillip Bush has performed often with many of the New York area's most renowned new music ensembles, and has been a member of Present Music since 1995. He is a graduate of the Peabody Conservatory, where he was a student of Leon Fleisher.


Present Music                                                                        

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 in Milwaukee. Present Music programs include a 6-concert series in Milwaukee, a 5-concert series in Madison, education programs for K-12 children, and regular touring and broadcast opportunities.  Present Music performs at a number of unique concert locations that include the new addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum, Bader Hall at the Zelazo Center for the Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, St. John’s Cathedral, and the First Unitarian Meeting House in Madison. 


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.  In the 2003-04 season, Present Music will perform in New York at the World Financial Center.


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, 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 nine 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.


Present Music expands and contracts its ensemble to allow for a diversity of instrumental combinations. With the rich variety of new music available today, Present Music appeals to an unusually large and diverse audience. Programs have been described as “crackling with wit and intelligence,” “wildly varied,” “fun,” and “unpredictable.” 


Flight Box by Kamran Ince

Recorded: October 30, 2001; Plymouth Church, Milwaukee

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

Producers: Kamran Ince, Kevin Stalheim

Mixing and Editing: Kamran Ince, Ric Probst

Publisher: European American Music


MKG Variations by Kamran Ince; Plymouth Church, Milwaukee

Recorded: April 25, 2002 

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

Producers: Karl Lavine, Kevin Stalheim

Mixing and Editing: Ric Probst, Karl Lavine

Publisher: European American Music


In White by Kamran Ince; Plymouth Church, Milwaukee

Recorded: January 13, 2002

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

Producers: Ric Probst, Kevin Stalheim

Mixing and Editing: Eric Segnitz, Ric Probst

Publisher: European American Music


In Memoriam by Kamran Ince

Recorded: September 30, 2002; New Horizon Studio, Milwaukee

Recording Engineer: Ric Probst and Steve Kutgen of Remote Planet, Milwaukee, WI

Producers: Philip Bush, Kevin Stalheim

Mixing and Editing: Ric Probst, Phillip Bush

Publisher: European American Music


Turquoise by Kamran Ince

Recorded: June 2, 1996; DV Studios

Recording Engineer: David Vartanian

Producers: David Vartanian, Kamran Ince, Kevin Stalheim

Mixing and Editing: David Vartanian, Kamran Ince

Publisher: European American Music





Present Music

E-mail: [email protected]

Tel: (414) 271-0711

Fax: (414) 271-7998


1840 N. Farwell Avenue, Suite 301

Milwaukee, WI 530202



Present Music Photo



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 ©