About the Grant

$15,000 to support Buffalo Nation (Bison bison) (MAP 2009), a piece of theatrical music created by composer Jerome Kitzke, librettist Kathleen Masterson and the Present Music Ensemble, that illuminates in music and text, the huge, varied, and largely unsung story of the American Bison from prehistory, to the herd’s late 19th Century decimation, and on to present time. This story, which is simultaneously tragic and redemptive, ecological and social, will be premiered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in the spring of 2011 in collaboration with a wide range of both professional and amateur musical partners.

About the Project

The libretto of Buffalo Nation (Bison bison) will be woven by Kathleen Masterson, in collaboration with Mr. Kitzke, from the historical record, contemporary ecological writings, contemporary fiction, the aural histories of the Great Plains Indian Nations, and from imagination. A solo singer, actors, sound effects chorus, and instrumentalists will bring their voices to bear in representing not only the human characters, but the bison as well. The sound effects chorus will be made up of members from a number of Milwaukee communities, and the nature of the writing will allow the participation of untrained musicians, which fits Present Music's aesthetic of community involvement.

As American creative artists, we are acutely aware of the non-static quality of history, and that the way we now live on this land is directly connected to the way we historically came to live on it. This piece will reflect that belief, and though the story it tells is an emotionally difficult one, it will, we believe, be one of redemption as well.

Related Websites

Present Music


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