A Unique Thanksgiving Concert You Should Know About

Present Music is celebrating its 40th season with a holiday performance worthy of the ensemble’s unconventional nature.

The Milwaukee-based group performs new compositions, often in unusual formats, such as a 2011 concert that saw the musicians playing from boats floating down the Milwaukee River. This season, Present Music is commissioning five new pieces. For the annual Thanksgiving Concert, held on Nov. 21 at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, Raven Chacon, a composer of both chamber and noise music from the Navajo Nation in Arizona, is creating a new work.

Chacon describes his music as “all over the place,” and for the Thanksgiving concert he’s experimenting further, combining noise and electronically generated tones with chamber instruments like clarinets and flutes.

“The concert will hopefully bring in the regular audiences that attend Present Music’s programs,” Chacon says. “But there is always a hope that others find their way into these spaces of unconventional sound and music.”



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The group is also collaborating with UW-Milwaukee’s Electa Quinney Institute for American Indian Education, and Sky Hopinka, an artist of the Ho-Chunk Nation, among others.

“While Thanksgiving can be a time of celebration, it is important to recognize that it is also a day of mourning for many Indigenous people,” says Rebecca Ottman, Present Music’s operations and marketing manager. This year’s Thanksgiving Concert is “a musical embrace of our differences and shared humanity.”

For concert tickets and more information, visit presentmusic.org. The concert will also be available to stream online from Nov. 24 through Nov. 28.


This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s November issue.

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