Present Music’s Around 30 Concert on Saturday may have taken five months to plan, but it has been 30 years in the making. The concert will celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the performing ensemble founded in 1982 by Kevin Stalheim, and will feature 30 visual artists, composers, designers, and architects around the age of 30.

“I wanted to bring in people from around the city of Milwaukee in music, dance, visual arts, and fashion,” Stalheim said. “The idea was to celebrate the newer generation of creative artists in Milwaukee and around the country,” he said. Turner Hall Ballroom will transform into an artistic mecca. The entrance will immediately set the tone for the evening to come.

“There’s so many different things happening and the people will be taken on a trip,” Stalheim said.

People will walk into dramatic lighting, specially created by a lighting designer of the 30 creatives featured that night, and will be able to explore the many different featured art displays on the floor. Displays like life-sized puppets by Shannon Lee Molter, original video projected on the walls by video artists and videographers, Carmen Kordas and Ross Nugent, fashion designs by Miranda Levy, and much more to excite the eyes and ears.

“I think even though the concert hasn’t started the event will have started,” Stalheim said. “The concert is the center of things, but I think the things on the floor will add a dimension that people will find exciting and interesting,” he said.

This will all build up to the concert featuring 12 musicians and composers playing an eclectic mix of instruments from traditional orchestral violins, clarinets, and horns, to the more modern syntheziser and electric guitar. The audience will have a chance to see the highly anticipated world premiere performance from Milwaukee composer and performer Amanda Schoofs and Danceworks choreographers, followed by a set from I Am Not A Pilot! for the after party.

Present Music’s concerts are very much about the experience. Their Water concert took place on outdoors with musicians playing alongside boats on the Milwaukee River. They also had a concert at the Zoo where the ensemble played side by side with the animals. This event will be no exception. Stalheim said a big part of Present Music’s identity is the fact that their concerts are more like events than simply just musicians playing instruments.

Since it’s inception 30 years ago, Present Music has gradually developed  into a well-known and successfully talented group of musicians. Their humble beginnings began in a small church, where Stalheim struggled to find a handful of musicians to play for free for the public.

Now they are attracting composers from all over the country and playing larger venues like The Art Museum, The Performing Arts Center, and now Turner Hall Ballroom. Not only has Present Music moved on to bigger and better venues, but they are evolving ears as well by bringing classical music to the masses.

“Music is not so much in the classical realm. Present Music sort of bridged the gap between classical music and popular music by playing music that is inspired by that,” Stalheim said. “I think we are unique in that sense.”

Present Music is definitely a pioneer in the ever-growing creative community in Milwaukee. Stalheim said within the last 20 years a lot of younger artists have emerged to create theatre and dance companies, and many musicians and visual artists have come onto the scene to help Milwaukee thrive artistically. That is precisely why he wanted to showcase them for this concert. The thirty reasons to go are the artists themselves.

Stalheim stated, “I think this is the place to be if you’re into wanting to know what people are doing that are in the younger generation of creative artists in Milwaukee and around the country. It’s going to be a very exciting mixture of a lot of different art forms coming together in one night.”

The Around 30 Concert happens this Saturday March 3rd at Turner Hall Ballroom at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at their website.


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