Press Room

eighth blackbird’s early 2009 flights

Chicago’s eighth blackbird opens the New Year on
January 9 with a pair of return concerts at Princeton’s IAS (Institute for Advanced
Studies), followed by performances with
Oberlin students in San Francisco and Seattle.  Before returning to its Chicago base for a February 19
concert in the Harris Theater devoted to works by Los Angeles composer Stephen
Hartke, with Britain’s renowned Hilliard Ensemble as guest artists, the group
will give concerts in St. Cloud, MN, Tallahassee, FL, and Kennesaw, GA (debut),
and will complete a residency in Laramie, WY. 
The cutting-edge new music sextet
has one-week residencies in February, March, and April at its other base in
Richmond, VA, one of which features a concert with composer and Wilco drummer
Glenn Kotche, who performed with the group for the first time in November in
Chicago.  An early-spring highlight
is eighth blackbird’s first concert in Germany, during the Berlin Festival’s
“March Music”.  California dates
and a return to Chicago for two “Contempo” concerts complete eighth blackbird’s
very full spring calendar.


eighth blackbird first
performed with students from the Oberlin
earlier this season at Oberlin and at The Kitchen in New
York.  The ensemble’s founding
members met during their studies at Oberlin and continue to work with current
students on a regular basis. 
“Oberlin Live!” moves to San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts (Jan. 11)
and Seattle’s Benaroya Hall (Jan. 13) for further collaborations between eighth
blackbird and the current cream of the Oberlin crop.


eighth blackbird’s next
major spring date is a program of Stephen
’s music with the renowned Hilliard
on February 19, the second program in eighth blackbird’s second
Harris Theater season.  England’s Hilliard Ensemble, one
of the world’s pre-eminent vocal groups, for whom Hartke composed his haunting
Symphony No. 3 (a New York Philharmonic commission, which opened the
orchestra’s 2003-04 season), joins eighth blackbird to present a musical
profile of the composer.  This
program presents different sides of the man the New York Times has praised for his “beautiful craftsmanship” and
“imaginative drive.”  Hartke’s often
playful nature will be revealed by eighth blackbird through the imaginary court
music of his Pulitzer Prize-nominated Meanwhile
(written for the ensemble in 2007), here receiving its Chicago premiere, as
well as the zany, Looney Tunes-inspired insanity of The Horse with the Lavender Eye (1997).  A more sublime, solemn beauty pervades the music of Hartke’s
monumental Tituli (1999, for five
voices, violin, and two percussionists), for which eighth blackbird will be
joined by the Hilliard Ensemble.  “I’m
thrilled to have my two favorite chamber groups together for this concert,”
says Hartke, “and especially happy about the variety these pieces afford, with
their explorations of things ancient and modern, Western and Eastern, serious
and whimsical.”  This second Harris
Theater concert is preceded by and previewed in a “Live From WFMT” radio performance on February 9 on Chicago’s
classical music radio station.


The tour programs eighth
blackbird has selected for the early part of 2009 are “The Only Moving Thing”
and “Meanwhile”, the centerpiece of which is Stephen Hartke’s Pulitzer
Prize-nominated piece of the same name. 
“TOMT”, a kinetic program eighth blackbird introduced early in 2008,
consists of two commissioned pieces: Double
by Steve Reich and singing in
the dead of night
by Julia Wolfe, Michael Lang, and Michael Gordon (all
part of the original Bang On A Can) and has the ensemble diving full-tilt into
the agile and muscular world of five of today’s most prominent names in music
and dance (seminal New York choreographer Susan Marshall contributed the moves
for the second work).  “TOMT” is on
the calendar for the group’s January 17 concert at the Chamber Music Society of
St. Cloud in Minnesota and its January 30 performance at Florida State University
in Tallahassee.  And it is the
program for the group’s February 7 debut at Georgia’s Kennesaw State
University, where Alex Ross – the New
’s music critic and author of the book and blog The Rest Is Noise – will give a talk before the performance.


Immediately after the
Georgia concert, during a mid-February residence at the University of Wyoming
in snowy Laramie, eighth blackbird gives a February 12 concert of “Meanwhile”.  The ensemble presents that program in
six cities in five consecutive months: Princeton in January; at the University
of Wyoming in February; at Cleveland’s Chamber Music Society in March; at La
Jolla in April; and finally at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH in May.


College residencies are an important part of eighth blackbird’s life.  Typically the members work with
students over a few days in workshops and master-classes, and the residencies
culminate in concerts performed for, by, or with the students.  The University of Chicago has been a
home base for the ensemble for several years, as has Virginia’s University of
Richmond, where more recently eighth blackbird found its second home.  Three Richmond residencies – a week
each in February, March, and April – enhance spring in Virginia’s capital
city.  A new academic collaboration
between eighth blackbird and the Colburn
in Los Angeles begins on April 20: the sextet will work with
students there in much the same way it has worked so successfully with its
students in Chicago and Richmond.


Indie classical meets indie rock when eighth blackbird joins up
again with Chicago-based percussionist Glenn Kotche, best known as Wilco’s
drummer, in their March 25 Richmond concert.  Kotche, an
accomplished composer/performer in his own right, collaborated and
performed with eighth blackbird for the first time last November, at the
group’s first Harris Theater show of the season.  At that time, the Chicago Sun-Times said, in a rave
review, “Kotche
and eighth blackbird are kindred musical souls.”  As in Chicago, the Richmond program will feature works from
Kotche’s album Mobile, performed by
the percussionist and eighth blackbird; a Kotche solo set; Dutch composer Louis
Andriessen’s pedal-to-the-metal Workers
; and Steve Reich’s legendary Clapping
.  The March 25 concert
will also feature the world premiere
of Missy Mazzoli’s Still Life With Avalanche (2008), which the composer describes
as “a pile of melodies collapsing in a chaotic free fall – the players layer
bursts of sound over the static drones of harmonicas, sketching out a strange
and evocative sonic landscape. 
This is a piece about finding beauty in chaos, and vice versa.”


Another spring highlight will be eighth blackbird’s debut in Germany, on March 27 at the
adventurous “March Music” week of the Berlin Festival.  The ensemble has made several important
European debuts this season, beginning with a UK debut at Liverpool’s European
Cultural Capital festival, and a continental European bow in Rotterdam.


June, the world-renowned Ojai Music
welcomes eighth blackbird where, in the group’s capacity as music
director, it will curate and program the four-day festival.  Ojai, which for six decades has become
well known for its fearlessness in championing pioneering musical ideas and
personalities, pushes the envelope again this summer with programming that
reflects the qualities that have made eighth blackbird such a musical phenomenon:
genre-defying variety in wildly collaborative and visually dramatic
presentations.  Further details of the
festival will be announced shortly.


# # #


eighth blackbird:
winter-spring 2009 engagements


January 9-10, “Meanwhile”,
Princeton Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton, NJ


January 11, Oberlin Live! From the West Coast, Palace
of Fine Arts, San Francisco, CA


January 13, Oberlin Live! From the West Coast, Benaroya
Hall, Seattle, WA


January 17, “The
Only Moving Thing”,
Chamber Music Society of St. Cloud, St. Cloud, MN


January 30, “The
Only Moving Thing”,
Opperman Music Hall, FSU, Tallahassee, FL


February 7, “The
Only Moving Thing”,
Bailey Performance Center, KSU, Kennesaw, GA


February 9, Performance/broadcast on “Live From WFMT”, WFMT Radio 98.7 FM,
Chicago, IL


February 10-13, Residency

February 12: performance of “Meanwhile”, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY


February 19, All-Stephen
Hartke concert:
Meanwhile; The Horse with the Lavender Eye; Tituli *

* with the Hilliard Ensemble

Harris Theater, Chicago, IL


February 23, Richmond Residency (Week 4)

Modlin Center for the Arts at the University of
Richmond, Richmond, VA


March 17, “Meanwhile”,
Cleveland Chamber Music Society, Cleveland, OH


March 18-25, Richmond Residency (Week 5)

March 25, Performance
with Glenn Kotche of Wilco

Modlin Center for the Arts at the University of
Richmond, Richmond, VA


March 27, DEBUT
in Germany – Berlin Festival: “The Only Moving Thing”

Haus der Berliner Festspiele


April 4, Contempo
/ MCA,
Chicago, IL


April 6-10, Richmond Residency (Week 6)

Modlin Center for the Arts at the University of
Richmond, Richmond, VA


April 19, “Meanwhile”,
Athenaeum Music and Arts Library, La Jolla, CA


April 20-25, Residency

April 26: Performance: program tba

Colburn School, Los Angeles, CA


April 30, Pierrot Lunaire, Fontana Chamber
Arts, Kalamazoo, MI


May 8, “Meanwhile”,
Hopkins Center, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH


May 15, Contempo
– Tomorrow’s Music Today
, Contempo/Fulton Recital Hall, Chicago, IL


May 28, Contempo
– Tomorrow’s Music Today
, Contempo/Ganz Hall, Chicago, IL


June 11-14, Ojai
Music Festival
, Ojai, CA

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