Deirdre Harrison, chief operating officer
Deirdre Harrison became Chief Operating Officer for Eighth Blackbird in 2018, after having served as their Interim Director of Development for six months. Previously, she was the Director of Development for the MacArthur-funded shared advancement staff project Creative Partners, Director of Development and Communications for Rush Hour Concerts/Make Music Chicago through its merger with the International Music Foundation, and for several years Music Institute of Chicago’s first Director of Community Engagement. She is a member of the 2013 cohort of the Community Arts Education Leadership Institute of the National Guild for Community Arts Education. Additional non-profit administration experience includes launching Global Citizenship Experience Lab School and work as Director of Admission and Financial Aid for Baker Demonstration School. Deirdre earned a double BA at Yale before completing her theater training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. A dual American-Irish citizen, she worked in the UK, EU and US for many years as an actress, singer and director. Deirdre performs all over Chicagoland with her literacy chamber band, The Lucky Trikes, serves on the boards of performance ensemble MOCREP and New Music Chicago.
Justin Peters, studio and tour manager
Justin joined the Eighth Blackbird team in 2016 as Studio Manager, adding tour managing duties in 2018. He manages Eighth Blackbird’s Chicago studio and offices, provides production support for local performances, and works with national and international presenters to help bring Eighth Blackbird to venues across the world.
Justin received his Bachelor of Music in Percussion Performance at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Outside of the studio, he freelances as a drummer, percussionist, and composer with many groups in Chicago and abroad. His numerous projects include Matthäus, Emily Blue, and a residency at Zen Yoga Garage.
Alex Monroe, grants manager
Alex joined Eighth Blackbird in November 2016. A native of St. Louis, MO, he holds degrees in percussion performance from Northwestern University (M.M.) and Truman State University (B.M.) and is completing a certificate in Philanthropy and Nonprofit Management from the Northwestern School of Professional Studies.
Prior to joining Eighth Blackbird, Alex served as General Manager of the Lake Forest Symphony in Lake Forest, IL. Alex is a strong advocate of new music and collaborative art. In 2014, he co-founded beyond this point, an experimental percussion group specializing in cross-disciplinary work.
Brandon Quarles, development and communications intern
Brandon Quarles is a Chicago-based saxophonist and improviser dedicated to the creation and performance of new music. He is the Executive Director of ~Nois, a saxophone quartet that defies categorization by working at the boundary between contemporary classical music and experimental improvisation. ~Nois has emerged as one of the premier young ensembles of contemporary performance with awards such as Second Place in the Open Division of the 2018 M-Prize International Chamber Arts Competition and the Silver Medal at the 2017 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition. With ~Nois, Brandon has performed across the United States with appearances at festivals such as Big Ears (Knoxville, TN), Continuum Music Festival (Memphis, TN), Omaha Under the Radar, and Re:Sound Festival (Cleveland, OH), and he has been a guest artist at many universities including the University of Chicago, the Manhattan School of Music, and Princeton University. Brandon is also active as a soloist and improviser and has performed on venerated Chicago series such as Elastic Arts’ Improvised Music Series and Beat Kitchen’s Splice Series. Since 2014, Brandon has given the world premiere of over 40 works for the saxophone. Currently in his last year of coursework towards the Doctor of Musical Arts degree at Northwestern University, Brandon holds a Master of Music degree from Northwestern University and a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Georgia and he has had the honor of studying saxophone with Clint Schmitt, Connie Frigo, and Taimur Sullivan. In addition to performing and teaching, Brandon serves on the board of New Music Chicago as the organization’s Membership Chair.
Makana Medeiros, production intern
Makana Medeiros is Eighth Blackbird’s Production Intern for the Summer of 2019 through the Catherine Filene Shouse Arts Leadership Program at the Eastman School of Music. He is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s in Percussion Performance and studies primarily with Michael Burritt as well as Rich Thompson and Charles Ross.
As a performer, Makana participates in many genres ranging from jazz, classical and contemporary music. He has played at numerous summer festivals such as the Nief Norf Summer Festival, Chautauqua Institution Music School Festival Orchestra and National Symphony Orchestra Summer Music Institute. At Eastman, Makana participates in jazz combos as well as ensembles such as the Eastman Percussion Ensemble, Philharmonia, and Ossia New Music. He has appeared on Eastman Wind Ensemble recordings and the 2019 tour to Severance Hall in Cleveland, Ohio. —