Alverno Presents
Press Release

Jon Mueller Death Blues Ensemble to Perform Saturday, January 31, 2015 8:00 pm at Alverno’s Pitman Theatre

Single Ticket Price $25

By - Dec 16th, 2014 11:24 am

Jon Mueller is “an audacious leader of new music.” (Grayson Currin, Pitchfork). A founding member of Pele, Collection of Colonies of Bees and Volcano Choir, Jon Mueller’s ongoing Death Blues project premiered at Alverno Presents in November 2012. “It makes such sense that a drummer, as a sort of ascetic, would offer up a meditation on the measure of time. And what it means to end.” (Mary-Louise Schumacher, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). The latest iteration of Death Blues has Jon collaborating with composer William Ryan Fritch for Ensemble, a record and book project released on Mueller’s Rhythmplex imprint. On Saturday, January 31, 2015, Mueller and Fitch will present a live performance of these pieces, with Fred Lonberg-Holm on cello, Jaime Fennelly on harmonium, Jim Warchol on hammered acoustic guitar, Marielle Allschwang on vocals, and Nathaniel Heuer on upright bass.

Writes NPR’s First Listen — “What happens when we thoroughly hold and understand that our lives are finite? How does this understanding of our end shape our present? How do we become more ‘present’?” Since 2011, the percussionist and composer Jon Mueller has been asking these fundamental questions as Death Blues, a multi-disciplinary project stretched over essays, performances, the visual arts and albums. The range of the music has been exploratory and — to those may only know Mueller’s work through Volcano Choir — at times challenging, but then so is the range of questions he asks.

“If Death Blues was the meditative inception, Here the manic mantra and Non-fiction the explosive catharsis, then Ensemble is the blown-out, hyper-real orchestra of the self. Over the course of two years, film composer and multi-instrumentalist William Ryan Fritch worked with Mueller to bring out new fantastical colors and shapes in these pieces, which still center on the monotonic yet soul-awakening thwack of the hammered acoustic guitar.”

Writes Grayson Currin in Pitchfork – “Ensemble is a bit shocking: As though performed by a chamber ensemble with time-shares in heaven and hell, these nine tracks move with an ecstatic and creeping unease.”

Writes Matt Wild in the Milwaukee Record – “Ensemble is a work of art that swings for the fences and shoots for the moon, and makes no bones about it. It’s an unabashedly ambitious, unapologetically grand statement on the impermanence of life, the finality of death, and the power of music, words, and visual art to influence how we navigate everything in between. It’s an assured, glorious, and deliberate masterpiece,”

Tickets are available online at Tickets are available online at at Alverno Presents Box Office at 414-382-6044.  Artist bios, video clips and links to artist’s web sites as well as artist jpegs may be downloaded at

National Endowment for the Arts, Transfer Pizzeria Café, 800-CEO-Read, Wisconsin Arts Board

Media Sponsors

WUWM 89.7 FM, Radio Milwaukee 88.9 FM, WMSE 91.7 FM, Milwaukee Record

Alverno Presents 

Alverno Presents, the performing arts series of Alverno College, is celebrating its 55th year.  The series has innovated beyond our history as the longest running, continuous arts presenter in the city, to our niche of presenting contemporary dance, world music and jazz and an array of performance events. Alverno Presents shares the school’s mission by ensuring broad access to and participation in learning, experiencing and developing the arts for the learning community of Alverno, and our community as a whole.  For more information on Alverno Presents, special projects, media reviews and more, visit, contact Alverno Presents Managing Director at 414-382-6151, or e-mail

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