Water Currents

Bodies of water – rivers, lakes, and oceans – have had an incalculable impact on music, art, culture, exploration, and industry. Humans have always been fascinated by these powerful forces of nature, offering opportunities for discovery and innovation, places of recreation and pleasure, and inspiration for artists.

Milwaukee is built on one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world, and our community has a unique relationship to water as a valuable resource for industry, agriculture, and recreation. Our symbiotic relationship to water also creates a need for us to be good caretakers of this resource.

Four water-themed events that correspond to water-themed Milwaukee Symphony concerts have been programed over the next several months. We hope that they will serve as an inspiration for our patrons and community to learn more about how water impacts our lives in Southeastern Wisconsin and beyond. 


Water Currents: Prelude to A Sea Symphony
Milwaukee Public Museum
Tuesday, February 6, 2018 at 6:00 p.m.

The MSO and the Milwaukee Public Museum team up for an evening inspired by Vaughan Williams’s A Sea Symphony. Stroll through the 3rd floor exhibits, enjoy live music by MSO musicians and the Florentine Opera's Baumgartner Studio Artists, learn from local experts, and discover how our seas and oceans have connected cultures, inspired artistic expression, and influenced history. This event is FREE.


Water Currents: Love Your Great Lakes Day
Port Exploreum
Saturday, February 10, 2018 at 1:00 p.m.

Join the MSO in Port Washington, WI as the Port Exploreum teams up with The Fund for Lake Michigan to host a special day of presentations and hands-on learning in celebration of our Great Lakes. Visitors will be engaged through a series of lectures and hands-on activities to learn how our community is instrumental in sustaining the Great Lakes. This is a family-friendly event that will offer enjoyable and inspirational exploration of the mysteries of our freshwater resources. This event is FREE.


Water Currents: Prelude to Become Ocean
The Sound of Water

Urban Ecology Center - Riverside Park
Wednesday, March 21, 2018 at 7:00 p.m.

In partnership with the Urban Ecology Center, and inspired by the Pulitzer Prize-winning John Luther Adams piece Become Ocean, this family-friendly event focuses on what you can find in the Milwaukee watershed and how plants and water affect music. Live performances by MSO musicians will take place throughout the building, each partnered with a UEC expert. How does botany relate to reeds? How does condensation occur in a brass instrument? How has water been used to create unique percussion sounds? Explore the close tie that music and art have to nature, ecology, and protecting our environment. There is a fee for this event: $5 UEC Members / $10 Non-Members. All proceeds go to the Urban Ecology Center’s education programs.


Water Currents: Prelude to Four Sea Interludes
Schlitz Audubon Nature Center
Tuesday, April 10, 2018 at 6:00 p.m.

The Schlitz Audubon Nature Center and the Milwaukee Symphony explore how seafaring and shipping have impacted the Great Lakes. This event, inspired by the seafaring themes of Benjamin Britten’s “Four Sea Interludes” from Peter Grimes, includes a live performance by MSO musicians. The performance will be accompanied by a fascinating talk about the many shipwrecks off the Wisconsin coast of Lake Michigan – now being considered for historic preservation status – given by Tamara Thomsen, maritime archaeologist with the Wisconsin Historical Society's Maritime Preservation and Archaeology program. An important corridor for shipping, those same vessels have imported invasive species that threaten the historic shipwreck sites. How do we preserve these sites and protect our Great Lakes? This event is FREE but registration is required


The Water Current series is sponsored by Water Centric City: City of Milwaukee.

“The way I think about it is that the two are inseparable. Just like human culture is inseparable from this miraculous world that we inhabit and abuse, my own identity as a human animal and an artist, a composer, is inextricably tied to my relationship with the world. My music and my environmentalism are the same thing.”

– John Luther Adams, composer of Become Ocean