2019-20 Season: Welcomes Back and Farewell

August 13, 2019

Dear Eighth Blackbird Extended Family,

We write to share news of additional transitions within Eighth Blackbird before making a public general announcement and before our full, dynamic 2019-20 season begins. Though saying goodbye is bittersweet indeed, we hope to share our excitement about two founding members who will be returning, as well as for two more fellow Oberlin graduates who will play in Eighth Blackbird for the first time this season. 

Eighth Blackbird’s founding clarinetist and co-artistic director, Michael Maccaferri, has accepted a new role in the Information Technology sector and departs from Eighth Blackbird this week. His future colleagues and clients are lucky to have him on their team and we wish him the very best in this new phase of his professional life.

Michael shared earlier this summer, “I am inordinately proud of the accomplishments and impact that Eighth Blackbird has made over the last 20 plus years. If it were all to end tomorrow, I know that through our hard work and creative dedication we have been fortunate to touch the hearts and minds of thousands of listeners and learners.”

We are thrilled to announce that Chicago-based clarinetist, Zachary Good, will join the ensemble for the majority of the season as well as for its ongoing residency at the University of Richmond. A fellow Oberlin Conservatory alumnus, Zach has performed with Eighth Blackbird, International Contemporary Ensemble, Third Coast Percussion, Lyric Opera Unlimited, members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Manual Cinema, Ensemble Dal Niente, and the New World Symphony. As a fellow of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, he established the annual New Music Workshop. Zach is a founder/co-artistic director of the interdisciplinary group Mocrep.

Bang on a Can All Stars clarinetist Ken Thomson and Eighth Blackbird’s founding violinist Matt Albert, join the ensemble for its upcoming recording of Singing in the Dead of Night, written for Eighth Blackbird by Michael Gordon/David Lang/Julia Wolfe.  The recording will be produced by GRAMMY award-winning producer Elaine Martone and released on Cedille Records in spring, 2020. Dr. David Brooke Wetzel, who teaches computer science and clarinet at Loyola University in Chicago, will play clarinet when the ‘Birds perform a new work by composer, sound artist and eco-acoustician Matthew Burtner at the Coastal Futures Festival, UVA.

Eighth Blackbird’s founding flutist Molly Barth will return to play the balance of the season after Nathalie Joachim completes her tenure with the ensemble in December. Five of the six original ‘Birds, along with Zach Good on clarinet, will perform Jennifer Higdon’s On a Wire this March at the Oregon Music Festival.

And finally, in addition to Matt Albert, who will play on a number of concerts this season, Blackbird Creative Lab 2018 alumna, Elly Toyoda, from Osaka, Japan, joins the ensemble on violin in Oklahoma, Gettysburg College and at the National Gallery in Washington DC. Elly and Zach were contemporaries at Oberlin Conservatory, so a second generation of baby ‘Birds takes flight along many of its founders this season!  Both are now doctoral candidates; Zach at Northwestern and Elly at Rutgers. Read more about all of Eighth Blackbird’s 2019-20 collaborators and other guest artists here.

As always, Eighth Blackbird remains committed to its mission and its audience, and welcomes any questions or concerns you may have.  And thank you for the kind, wise and supportive support so many of you have already shared during such a pivotal time for this extraordinary and growing flock of artists.

On behalf of the Eighth Blackbird family,

Deirdre Harrison
Eighth Blackbird, COO

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