In our age of political correctness, this country’s attitude toward music from western Europe has shifted subtly yet inexorably: while its influences are receding except in certain academic and establishment ghettos, no other region seems poised for leadership. Perhaps this fragmentation is, after all, a good thing, allowing hundreds of stylistic flowers to bloom. But the biggest losers, at least in terms of arts funding here, may be white European male (and to a much lesser extent female) composers, some of whom are still carrying the torch of the postwar avant-garde while others kindle new brush fires–though few of either are deemed relevant. The NEMO (New European Music Overseas) Festival–which will showcase an odd mix of mostly chamber works by French, German, and Italian as well as American composers in concerts at several venues over the next couple of weeks–was reportedly denied funding by at least 40 Chicago-area foundations. Now largely supported by those European countries’ consulates, the show will go on–providing a timely survey of aesthetic currents from western Europe and their residual impacts on this side of the Atlantic. Of the upcoming events the major coup is the joint appearance of Hamburg-based ensemble Das Neue Werk and Toronto’s Wheel Trio, both skilled and eloquent exponents of the cutting edge. Headlining the German contingent on the crowded program is Walter Zimmermann, whose eerie, jarring Distentio for violin, viola, and cello will be performed by the Wheel Trio. His Echoing Green for violin and piano will be performed by members of Das Neue Werk, under the expert direction of Dieter Cichewiecz. The ensemble will also interpret chamber works by Zimmermann’s fellow countrymen Wolfgang Rihm, a thought-provoking innovator, and Detlev Glanert, who at 35 is at the forefront of a new generation, and new works by Barbara Monk Feldman and Babette Koblenz. Zimmermann and Glanert will be on hand to discuss their music. Thursday, May 9, 6 PM, ballroom, School of the Art Institute, 112 S. Michigan; 329-0915. TED SHEN