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Musician-led Milwaukee Musaik Celebrates a Mosaic of Sound

Milwaukee Musaik
Milwaukee Musaik

On Monday night, a new music consortium called Milwaukee Musaik will hold its debut concert at Wisconsin Lutheran College’s Schwan Hall. 

The group is led by violinists Alexander Mandl and Jeanyi Kim and clarinetist Bill Helmers. "The Milwaukee Musaik was born out of the Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra, which was the prior organization - which was originally started in 1973 by Steve Colburn and a few other members as the Milwaukee Chamber Music Society," Mandl says.

“Through the demographics and financial strains going on throughout the arts in the United States, musical ensembles sort of have to adapt to times," he explains. "The Milwaukee Musaik was born out of the idea of some of the board members of the Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra who wanted to have more musician involvement in the participation of the organization and the running of business and the artistic side of it.”

The concept behind the consortium is to "broader reach in the niche" and to take advantage of the organization's make up. The group includes not just Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra members, but also a "mosaic" of musicians from UWM, UW-Parkside, Philomusica String Quartet, the Prometheus Trio and elsewhere.

Mandl says Milwaukee Musaik hopes to highlight these musicians on stage as well as incorporate their ideas into a more democratic approach to music making. “The model that we have is not one fixed music director but to have that artistic side of the programming on the side of the musicians," he says.

Audiences can also expect collaborations with arts organizations such as Danceworks, and venue choices that showcase musicians in smaller intimate settings.

“It creates a model of flexibility. It creates a model of adaptability," says Mandl. “The arts have to have a visible presence in any way, shape and form. Collaboration only increases the audience base.”

He contends that the creativity of multidisciplinary work "enhances the product and forces us to think outside the box, what else new can we do about the interaction of the arts."

Bonnie North
Bonnie joined WUWM in March 2006 as the Arts Producer of the locally produced weekday magazine program Lake Effect.
Maayan Silver has been a reporter with WUWM’s News Team since 2018.