Present Music

Kevin Stalheim, Artistic Director

Innova 729





1. Elena Kats-Chernin: Village Idiot


2. Randall Woolf: Motor City Requiem


3- 13.   Armando Luna:  Graffiti


1. Elena Kats-Chernin: Village Idiot (2007)     16:47

                  Commissioned by Gwen and Jim Plunkett for Present Music

Eric Segnitz, violin; Sharan Leventhal, violin; Brek Renzelman, viola; Karl Lavine, cello; Collins Trier, bass; Phillip Bush, harpsichord; Terry Smirl, percussion; Dave Lussier, trombone; Don Sipe, trumpet; Greg Flint, French horn; Jason Seed, electric guitar; Stas Venglevski, bayan accordion



2. Randall Woolf: Motor City Requiem (2006)               9:37

                  Commissioned by Paul and Marilyn Meissner for Present Music


Eric Segnitz, violin; Jeffrey Yang, violin; Brek Renzelman, viola;

Karl Lavine, cello; Phillip Bush, piano



Armando Luna:  Graffiti (2006), in 11 movements (21:18)

                  Commissioned by Ronald and Bett Jacquart for Present Music

3.              Johann Sebastian Bach                                   1:45

4.              Bela Bartok                                           1:54

5.              Dave Brubeck                                     2:00

6.              Chick Corea                                          1:39

7.              Alfred Schnittke                                 1:52

8.              Benny Goodman                                                 1:48

9.              Arthur Honegger                               2:01

10.           Franz Joseph Haydn                       1:41

11.           Dimitri Shostakovich                      1:48

12.           George Gershwin                                               3:02

13.           Alberto Ginastera                              1:48






Additional funding for these commissions and world premiere recordings has been provided by: the American Composers Forum, the Argosy Contemporary Music Fund,

the Present Music Board of Directors, and by a generous anonymous donor.


Kevin Stalheim, conductor; Eric Segnitz, violin; Susan Waterbury, violin; Brek Renzelman, viola; Karl Lavine, cello; Dan Armstrong, bass;Marie Sander, flute; William Helmers, clarinet; Phillip Bush, piano; Terry Smirl, percussion; Linda Siegel, percussion; Les Thimmig, saxophones; Jonathan Winkle, trombone; Don Sipe, trumpet


Village Idiot


In September 2006 there was an exhibition of painters with schizophrenia in Sydney, in which the paintings and drawings of my son were exhibited and for which I wrote some pieces.  During the exhibition and accompanying events I witnessed some amazing artists at work, including one poet who wrote a poem called “Village Idiot.”


It is often the case when the illness is acute, that through sheer incoherence of speech and confused thoughts, sometimes something incredibly profound gets spoken and then it disappears again into a mumbling sort of “gibberish.” I am so used to this with my middle son Alexander who has suffered from the illness for the last eight years. Many pieces that I’ve written since his illness have been inspired or influenced by him, even in indirect ways.  As far as musical ideas grew, early on I decided to give the E-guitar the role of the village idiot, though not so strictly speaking, of course.  The combination of E-guitar, harpsichord and accordion was vital in establishing the basic sound, which is built on a relentless force of energy for a length of time.

-Elena Kats-Chernin


Born in 1957 in Tashkent (Uzbekistan), Elena Kats-Chernin studied in Moscow before emigrating to Australia in 1975 where she studied composition at the New South Wales Conservatory and then with Helmut Lachenmann in Germany. She has since become one of Australia’s leading composers, and her dramatically vivid music communicates a mixture of lightheartedness and heavy melancholy, combining strong rhythmic figures with elements of cabaret, tango, ragtime, and klezmer.  Clocks (1993) for ensemble and pre-recorded tape was an artistic breakthrough, earning her widespread attention. In 1996 her Cadences, Deviations and Scarlatti won the Sounds Australian Award; in the same year she was also awarded the Jean Bogan Memorial Prize for the string quartet piece Charleston Noir. Her score for the ballet Wild Swans, choreographed by Meryl Tankard for the Australian Ballet in 2003, received acclaimed premieres in Sydney and Melbourne and has since attracted millions of listeners through subsequent performances, a recording on ABC Classics and a high profile ad campaign by the British bank Lloyds TBS that uses her music.  Elena Kats-Chernin is published by Boosey & Hawkes.


Motor City Requiem


I grew up in Detroit in the 1960’s.  Despite the town’s scary reputation, I have very happy memories of my neighborhood and the time I spent there.  Motown and soul music were in the air, black and white people got along fine (as far as I could see), and our band of kids played around and wrestled on the front lawns.  Where we  lived, there was nothing to be afraid of.  Then, in 1967, the riots started.  The police raided a homecoming party for a Vietnam vet, which took place in an unlicensed bar or “blind pig.”  A crowd gathered and began to protest, someone started to break storefront windows, and some others started looting. This led to widespread vandalism, fires, snipers, and a state of war between the police and citizens.  The national guard was brought in and then the 82nd national airborne division.  It ended after five days of some of the worst rioting in U.S. history.  Detroit has never been the same since. 


In Motor City Requiem I try to capture the view of what Detroit was through the glass of what it has become.  Motor City Requiem is for piano, string quartet, and a backdrop of electronic sounds made from tiny distorted fragments of Motown songs.  While there are no Motown songs in the instrumental parts, I did try to capture some of that sonic atmosphere.

-Randall Woolf


Randall Woolf discovered classical music for himself in college, having spent high school in the usual garage-rock bands. He studied composition privately from 1982 to 1987, taking 3 years of counterpoint and harmony lessons in the Schoenberg tradition and later studied orchestration and composition privately with David Del Tredici.  In 1989, he was a fellow at Tanglewood. He resides in Brooklyn with his wife, pianist and raconteuse Kathleen Supové.  His music ranges from the purely traditional classical media to the entirely electronic and theatrical, though he is happiest between these extremes. His work is frequently performed by groups such as the Seattle Symphony, Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, the Paul Dresher Ensemble, Bang On A Can/SPIT Orchestra, American Composers Orchestra, Dinosaur Annex, and the Society for New Music, among others.



for thirteen players is a homage as “musical graffiti” to eleven famous historical composers.


Luna’s work comes at you with a nod and a wink as he uses the styles of Bach, Bartok, Benny Goodman, Shostakovich and others as jumping off points for his own gleefully raucous and busy idiom. Bits of the source composers glint through Luna’s vivid, squawking tropical forests of sound. The hide-and-seek aspect of it amuses and surprises, and if you don’t know the sources, you can still enjoy the color and energy.

-Tom Strini, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


Armando Luna was born in 1964 in Chihuahua, Mexico where he began his music studies with Maestro Juan Manuel Medina.  In 1980, Luna studied composition with Mario Lavista at the National Conservatory of Music.  From 1989 to 1991 he furthered his studies and obtained a Masters Degree in composition from Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University.  There he worked with Leonardo Balada, Reza Vali and Lukas Foss.  In 1990 and 1998 he obtained the grant for young composers given by the “fondo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes” and in 2000 he was distinguished as one of the composers of the “Sistema Nacional de Creadores de Arte.”  Since 1993 he has taught Composition and Instrumentation at both the National Conservatory of Music and the State of Mexico Conservatory.

Village Idiot  by Elena Kats-Chernin

Recorded: April 22, 2007 – Milwaukee Youth Arts Center

Recording Engineers: Ric Probst and Steve Kutgen of

Remote Planet, Milwaukee, WI

Producers: Elena Kats-Chernin and Kevin Stalheim

Mixing & Editing:  Kevin Stalheim and Ric Probst

Publisher: Boosey & Hawkes, NY/London




Motor City Requiem by Randall Woolf

Recorded: January 7, 2007 – John Tanner Studio, Milwaukee, WI

Recording Engineers: Ric Probst and Steve Kutgen of

Remote Planet, Milwaukee, WI

Producer:  Randall Woolf

Mixing: Randall Woolf and Sheldon Steiger at MajorWho Media, NY, NY

Editing: Eric Segnitz and Ric Probst



Graffiti by Armando Luna

Recorded: September 10, 2006 – Milwaukee Youth Arts Center

Recording Engineers: Ric Probst and Steve Kutgen of

Remote Planet, Milwaukee, WI

Producers: Armando Luna & Kevin Stalheim

Mixing & Editing: Kevin Stalheim & Ric Probst


innova is supported by an endowment

from the McKnight Foundation

Philip Blackburn: Director, design

Chris Campbell: operations manager