April 12, 2017 | Contact: Steven Swartz | steven@dotdotdotmusic.net | t. 646/206-3966 | www.dotdotdotmusic.net


June 11 – 24 IN OJAI, CA

Faculty: Eighth Blackbird, Jennifer Higdon,
Ted Hearne, Mark DeChiazza

Guest artists: Steve Reich, Ned McGowan,
Pamela Z, Tom Morris, Elaine Martone


We want to share what we’ve learned and empower extraordinary emerging innovators
to make, formulate, create, interpret, and perform
.” – Matthew Duvall, Eighth Blackbird  

Eighth Blackbird is pleased to announce that 30 early-career musicians have been chosen to receive Fellowships to the inaugural Blackbird Creative Lab, a two-week summer training program taking place June 11 – 24 at the Besant Hill School in Ojai, California. The Fellows comprise eighteen performers, six composers, and two ensembles. In addition to Eighth Blackbird, the Blackbird Creative Lab Faculty includes composers Jennifer Higdon and Ted Hearne, director/filmmaker Mark DeChiazza. During the session, a stellar array of Guest Artists will rotate through The Lab: composer Steve Reich, composer/performer Pamela Z, flutist/composer Ned McGowan, and from the Ojai Music Festival, curator Tom Morris and producer Elaine Martone, who also serves as Director of the Blackbird Creative Lab.

More than 200 musicians applied from around the world; the 30 selected will attend tuition-free, inclusive of room and board. Hailing from Australia, Belgium, and the USA, they are a diverse group chosen for their “talent, technical proficiency, ability to communicate, personality, curiosity and creativity.” The Lab Fellows will participate in a learn-by-doing, exploratory process of creating new work – one that integrates the essential skills required for success in the field today. These include developing a performance aesthetic, nurturing one’s curatorial vision, and building an entrepreneurial foundation. With this inclusive training, the Fellows will be poised to embark on their own paths as provocateurs and visionaries in the arts.

The Blackbird Creative Lab will culminate in a pair of concerts, June 23 and 24 (7:30 pm) at the Besant Hill School’s Zalk Theater. These will be open to the public, giving audiences a chance to experience the fruits of the two-week session, and offering the Fellows an opportunity to test their work in live performance.

Pending faculty evaluation, exceptional work created at The Lab may be cultivated for further technical and production development with the goal of realizing additional performances and other professional opportunities. These may be full programs, or additions to existing Eighth Blackbird events.

Says percussionist Matthew Duvall, “For two decades, we’ve been preparing for the Eighth Blackbird Creative Lab. Since college we’ve been making, interpreting, and performing art; now we’re expanding our mission to embrace mentoring. We want to share what we’ve learned and empower extraordinary emerging innovators to make, formulate, create, interpret, and perform. To inspire, and to be inspired by, the vanguard of this time.

“We’re so fortunate to be able to include the help of Jennifer Higdon, Ted Hearne, Lab Director Elaine Martone, Tom Morris, Steve Reich, Mark DeChiazza, and Pamela Z.  We’ll be drawing fully from this deep well of artistic expertise. Excitement doesn’t begin to describe our emotion as we think about the work ahead. We’ve already begun correspondence regarding production logistics, instrumental assignments, and compositional parameters.

“Marking the beginning of a new era for Eighth Blackbird, we are so thrilled that the time for the Creative Lab has finally come.”

Here are the 2017 Fellows in alphabetical order:

Justine Aronson soprano Erika Boysen flute
Dan Caputo composer Danny Clay composer
Viet Cuong composer Jordan Curcuruto percussion
Fjóla Evans composer Robert Fleitz piano
Bryan Hayslett cello Molly Herron composer
Invoke string quartet
Molly Joyce composer Matt Keown percussion
Tamara Kohler flute Sammy Lesnick clarinet
Benjamin Mitchell clarinet Kate Outterbridge violin
Passepartout Duo piano + percussion duo
Evan Saddler percussion Jeff Stern percussion
Michiko Theurer violin Dylan Ward saxophone
Aaron Wolff cello Phoebe Wu piano
Jocelyn Zelasko soprano

Further information about the Blackbird Creative Lab is available at eighthblackbird.org/lab.


A B O U T   E I G H T H   B L A CK B I R D

Eighth Blackbird is “one of the smartest, most dynamic contemporary classical ensembles on the planet” (Chicago Tribune). Launched in 1996 as a twinkle in the eyes of six entrepreneurial Oberlin Conservatory undergraduates, this Chicago-based super-group has earned its status as “a brand-name…defined by adventure, vibrancy and quality….known for performing from memory, employing choreography and collaborations with theater artists, lighting designers and even puppetry artists” (Detroit Free Press).

Eighth Blackbird kicked off its 20th anniversary in 2016, quickly garnering a fourth GRAMMY Award as well as the prestigious MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. Anniversary celebrations continue throughout the 2016-17 season.

Over the course of two decades, Eighth Blackbird has commissioned and premiered hundreds of works by dozens of composers including David T. Little, Steven Mackey, Missy Mazzoli, and Steve Reich, whose commissioned work, Double Sextet, went on to win the Pulitzer Prize (2009). A long-term relationship with Chicago’s Cedille Records has produced seven acclaimed recordings (most recently, Hand Eye) and four impressive GRAMMY Awards for Best Small Ensemble/Chamber Music Performance: for strange imaginary animals (2008), Lonely Motel: Music from Slide (2011), Meanwhile (2012), and Filament (2015).

Eighth Blackbird’s members (Nathalie Joachim, flutes; Michael J. Maccaferri, clarinets; Yvonne Lam, violin & viola; Nicholas Photinos, cello; Matthew Duvall, percussion; Lisa Kaplan, piano) hail from the Great Lakes, Keystone, Golden, Empire and Bay states. The name “Eighth Blackbird” derives from the eighth stanza of Wallace Stevens’s evocative, aphoristic poem, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” (1917).

Eighth Blackbird is represented in Europe by Hazard Chase (London). Elsewhere in the world Eighth Blackbird is represented by David Lieberman Artists’ Representatives. www.eighthblackbird.org

#   #    #

Multi-percussionist, composer, and improviser Cory Hills thrives on breaking down musical barriers through creative, interdisciplinary projects. He has received degrees from Northwestern University, Queensland Conservatorium, and the University of Kansas, and was awarded a research fellowship to Institute Fabrica. Currently, Hills is an active performer, composer, and recording artist in Los Angeles, as well as a member of the Grammy-nominated Los Angeles Percussion Quartet.

An advocate of new music, Hills has individually commissioned and premiered over 85 new works for percussion. He has given solo and chamber recitals across Europe, Australia, The United States, Mexico, and China. These include a featured performance for the International Society of Improvised Music, the Days of New Music Festival in Chisinau, Moldova, the Queensland Music Festival, the Ravello Concert Festival, the Venice Art Biennale, four PASIC conventions, the Morelia Percussion Festival, and Festival Mozaic. An advocate for percussion as an artistic discipline, Hills has been the artist-in-residence at Rocky Mountain National Park, Conservatorio de Las Rosas, and a fellow at the OMI international artist’s colony.

Percussive Storytelling, a program that brings classical music and storytelling to kids in fun and accessible ways, was launched by Hills while a fellow at Institute Fabrica. The program recently marked its 430th performance, and has reached more than 80,000 children in eight countries. For this work, Hills has been the recipient of numerous arts grants, and was named the 2009 Emerging Artist through the Kansas Arts Commission. The Lost Bicycle, Hills’ debut solo CD of percussive stories, has received four national parenting and creative arts awards (NAPPA Parent’s Awards Gold, Parent’s Choice Silver, World Storytelling Honors Award, and a Creative Child preferred choice). In June 2015, The Lost Bicycle was released as a fully illustrated children’s book published by AcutebyDesign. Drum Factory, Hills’ second CD released on Sono Luminus Records, received a Parent’s Choice Silver award, three nominations for the Independent Music Awards, and was named CD of the Year by Creative Child. 

Hills is an artist for Innovative Percussion, Remo, Sabian, and Black Swamp Percussion. 

For more information please visit www.splatboombang.com.

Cory Hills Online






Show Links by Venue

Comfort Station

Narloch Piano Studio 

Performance Dates

April 5th, Ravinia School, 9:10am, 10:10am, (2 school assemblies, private)

April 6th, 7pm Comfort Music @ Comfort Station, 2579 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647. donations only, for ticket price

April 7th, 8:30am @ Chiaravalle Montessori, 425 Dempster St, Evanston

April 7th, 7pm @ Narloch Piano Studios, 4636 N Francisco Ave, Chicago, $10 suggested donation

*bolded performances are open to the public

photo by Maren Celete

Deidre Huckabay is a Chicago-based performer, writer, photographer, and event producer. She is a flutist with degrees from the Eastman School of Music and Duquesne University. Her work reflects a solitary, interior world, drawing on a musical life that requires long hours alone and listening.

As a flutist, she has extensively toured the U.S., Europe, and Latin America. Deidre performs with the Eastman BroadBand and Manual Cinema, and has recorded for Urtext and Bridge Records. She is co-owner of the experimental cassette tape label Parlour Tapes+ and a regular contributor to Cacophony Magazine.


Deidre Huckabay Online




Show Links by Venue

Comfort Station

Performance Dates

April 6th, 7pm Comfort Music @ Comfort Station, 2579 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

*with Cory Hills, donation only for ticket price. 

Those of us who live here know that Chicago is abuzz with sounds — and not just the wailing of police sirens and the thrumming of train tracks and the hiss of surf on sand — but the sounds of horsehair across cello strings and of felt hammers patting piano wire.  The city vibrates with the voices of its makers of music — composers, performers, improvisers, programmers, instrument-builders — and Parlour Tapes+ aims to capture these rustlings, large and small, on eighth-inch oxide-coated magnetic tape.

Yes, tape.  Cassette tape.*  We are, per our name, a new music cassette tape label.  We are also, per our growing interests, a media and performance collective that mounts unlikely concert-happenings and publishes an online magazine.  We are also-also a group of performing, composing, improvising rug-cutters who create and realize new work ourselves.

We aim to fuel creative thought in our field with stimulating, encouraging, and at times completely over-the-top projects to nurture the earnest and unbridled fulfillment of artistic desire.  We are as likely to mount heartbreaking and intimate concert-concerts (looking at you, Spektral Quartet) as we are to fabricate a Clue-esque musical murder mystery (what would the world do without David Skidmore?) or stage a fake job fair and completely benign brainwashing initiative nested in the perfectly unassuming shell of the contemporary concert.

Parlour Tapes+ Online





Self-assured, eminently curious, and artistically tireless, Eighth Blackbird has earned credibility and wide appeal over the past 20 years. In the words of Chicago’s Sarah Solotaroff Mirkin, “…as audience members we do not feel left out. We are spirited along into new territory.” Have a look at what’s new in 2016-17, as the spirited 20th anniversary celebration continues.

August 11, 2016 | sarah@dotdotdotmusic.net | t. 718.344.3690 | www.dotdotdotmusic.net







“The blackbirds are examples of a new breed of super-musicians. They perform the bulk of their new music from memory. They have no need of a conductor, no matter how complex the rhythms or balances. They are […] stage animals, often in motion, enacting their scores as they play them. They are without stylistic allegiances.”Los Angeles Times

Eighth Blackbird, “one of the smartest, most dynamic contemporary classical ensembles on the planet” (Chicago Tribune), kicked off 20th anniversary celebrations auspiciously in early 2016, winning a fourth GRAMMY Award and a MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. Twentieth anniversary celebrations continue throughout the 2016-17 season, with an enticing lineup of creative projects, commissions, and collaborations at home and abroad, from the indie-rocker curated Eaux Claires Festival in Wisconsin to the San Francisco Symphony, with multicity tours in Australia, France, and The Netherlands.

bb graphicWe had so much fun at our 20th Anniversary Benefit and Bash at Thalia Hall on May 9th, 2016, and we hope you did too! For those who are reminiscing or for those who couldn’t make it, here’s a glimpse at the fun times we had that night. The event honored our longtime board member Sarah Solotaroff Mirkin and fabulous Chicago funder, Prince Charitable Trusts. We couldn’t have done it without our Co-Chairs, Steve and Yayoi Everett, Angel Ysaguirre and Bob Webb, and our Honorary Chair Peter Taub. Special thanks to CH Distillery and our table purchasers for their sponsorship of this event and to Dan Trueman and Iarla Ó’Lionáird for gracing us with their musical presence.

Photos by Elliot Mandel.

Cedille Records
1205 W. Balmoral Ave., Chicago IL 60640

Cedille Records Press Contact
Nat Silverman/Nathan J. Silverman Co. PR
Phone/Fax (847) 328-4292

Eighth Blackbird Press Contact:
Phone: (718) 344-3690


Release date: April 8, 2016                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Eighth Blackbird Teams Up with Sleeping Giant
for ‘Hand Eye’ from Cedille Records 

Indie label issues world-premiere recording inspired by cutting-edge contemporary art

            American new-music sextet Eighth Blackbird, which has won Grammy Awards for each of its four most recent Cedille Records albums, teams with the adventurous composers of the Sleeping Giant collective for Hand Eye, a suite sparked by cutting-edge works of contemporary art.

            A world-premiere recording, Hand Eye will be released April 8 on CD and as a digital download (Cedille Records CDR 90000 162). It will be Eighth Blackbird’s eighth Cedille album.


Fresh on the heels of a fourth GRAMMY Award (2016 Best Small Ensemble/Chamber Music Performance for Filament), ​Eighth Blackbird yesterday was awarded the prestigious MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions, a one-time grant of $400,000, given in recognition for past leadership and success, and an investment in the future of the organization. For these Awards, the Foundation does not seek or accept nominations. 

Co-Founding Member, Co-Artistic Director, and Pianist Lisa Kaplan speaks for the ensemble in saying, “We are hugely honored and grateful to receive the respect and support of the MacArthur Foundation. When we formed the ensemble as six Oberlin students in 1996, we set out on a mission to move music forward through innovative performance, advocacy for new music by living composers, and a legacy of guiding an emerging generation of musicians. This Award enables us to build upon the strong foundation of the past 20 years and to expand and secure the organization’s mission for the next generation, with exciting news to come.”

The Award has been presented annually since 2006 to organizations across the country and around the world that demonstrate exceptional creativity and effectiveness. This year’s 14 recipients are drawn exclusively from Chicago’s diverse arts and culture community in order to strengthen the city’s vibrant cultural life and underscore the Foundation’s commitment to its hometown. 

W H A T ‘ S   N E X T ?


To celebrate the release of our most recent album Filament, we called upon the brilliant animator Nathaniel Murphy and his team to give a listen and create something inspired by a track on the recording.  Nathaniel chose the somber murder ballad “Pretty Polly” as the subject for his gruesome tale.  Have a look and listen at this and some of our other videos at www.vimeo.com/eighthblackbird.

Cedille Records 1205 W. Balmoral Ave., Chicago IL 60640

Cedille Records Press Contact: Nat Silverman/Nathan J. Silverman Co. PR Phone/Fax (847) 328-4292 natsilv@aol.com eighth blackbird Press Contact: Sarah Baird Knight/DOTDOTDOTMUSIC Phone: (718) 344-3690 sarah@dotdotdotmusic.net                                                                     


Release date: Sept. 11, 2015     

Enterprising eighth blackbird Connects With Indie Music Icons on ‘Filament’ CD

Grammy-winning sextet’s latest Cedille label album presents world-premiere recordings of works by Bryce Dessner of The National, Nico Muhly, and Son Lux

Disc includes live recording of Philip Glass’s ‘Two Pages’ at Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago  

filament_cover_300American new-music sextet eighth blackbird, which won Grammy Awards for each of its last three Cedille Records albums, continues to connect with genre-spanning, cutting-edge composers on FILAMENT, a CD of world-premiere recordings of works by Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly, and Son Lux, plus a Philip Glass classic.

The ensemble’s new album, FILAMENT, was produced by Dessner, a Brooklyn-based composer, guitarist, and member of the Grammy-nominated, Billboard-charting indie rock band The National. FILAMENT will be available September 11 on CD and as a digital download, with an LP to follow. The 16-page CD booklet features original artwork, photography, and design by New York-based artist and architect Karl Jensen (Cedille Records CDR 90000 157).

Premieres include Dessner’s Murder Ballades and Muhly’s Doublespeak, both written for eighth blackbird, and Son Lux’s To Love and This is my Line, a remix created from the album’s other tracks.


eighth blackbird announces new flutist Nathalie Joachim;

Three-time Grammy winning ensemble also bids a

fond farewell to departing flutist Tim Munro

photo: Arthur Moeller
photo: Joe Mazza

After nine years, flutist Tim Munro will leave eighth blackbird at the end of the 2014-15 season. New York based flutist Nathalie Joachim will move to Chicago in August to take up this position for the 2015-16 season and beyond.

Recognized for her versatile and innovative performing and composing, Nathalie Joachim has become a notable figure in the international music community. Critics hail the New York City based artist for creating “a unique blend of classical music, hip-hop, electronic programming and soulful vocals reminiscent of neo-R&B stars like Erykah Badu.” (The Wall Street Journal) Ms. Joachim is co-founder of the critically acclaimed urban art pop duo, Flutronix, known for bringing their ingenious stagecraft and technical prowess to stages world-wide. Other performance experience consists of an impressive range including Miguel Zenón, Vampire Weekend, the International Contemporary Ensemble, Richard Reed Parry and Dan Deacon.

Ms. Joachim is a faculty member at The Juilliard School’s Music Advancement Program (MAP) and is regularly engaged by elite educational institutions nationwide. Upcoming 2015-16 projects include commissions from Helen Simoneau Danse and Park Avenue Armory’s Under Construction Series, as well as the release of a new Flutronix EP. Ms. Joachim is the only person to have successfully completed the MAP, Pre-College, and College Division programs at The Juilliard School. She completed her graduate degree studies at The New School in audio production and sound design.

Nathalie’s first public appearances with the ensemble will be at the Wratislavia Cantans Festival in Wroclaw Poland in early September, 2015.

A native of Brisbane, Australia, Tim Munro’s work as a flutist, speaker, writer and teacher is united by a single goal: to draw audiences into an engrossing, whimsical and mischievous musical world. According to Chicago Tribune, “the fierce virtuosity of Munro was worth the price of admission.” Munro recently released his debut solo record, “one two three” (Parlour Tapes+), an album in which he is cast as flutist, singer, amateur mathematician and supervillain.

Says Munro, “The 2014/15 season will be my last as a member of eighth blackbird. I feel honored to be a part of a truly exceptional ensemble, one that consistently operates at the highest international level, and one that has inspired and encouraged me to play, speak, write, compose and teach at a higher level than I knew possible. eighth blackbird’s mission remains close to my heart, but after nine years I want the freedom to have greater autonomy in my professional life, the time to wander more diverse creative avenues, and the ability to spend more time at home in Chicago.”

Munro’s final public performances with the ensemble will be at the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival in late June, 2015. You can find Tim’s new website at timothymunro.com.

eighth blackbird wishes Tim Munro the very best in his future endeavors.

Pierrot lunaire is a defining work for eighth blackbird. The ensemble’s instrumentation derives from this seminal work, the premiere of which is often regarded as the beginning of the new music milieu we still operate within. Our dear friend Lucy Shelton sent around some wonderful ideas for how to celebrate the centennial, reposted below in full. Above is a short video about our most recent version of Pierrot, a stark and stunning staging conceived and directed by Mark DeChiazza.

Yes indeed, this Tuesdayis the night to celebrate all things PIERROT!!!!!!!
Here is my recommendation of activities and thoughts for the whole day…
[repeat as many times as you like]


1) commune with the moon, (though not a full one tonight) drink wine, giving the moon your toast
2) buy a bouquet of white roses and pull off the petals, strewing them delicately around you
3) wear special Pierrot make-up
4) do your laundry
5) waltz down the street, alone, or with a stranger
6) climb up on a table or piano bench and slide from highest note to lowest (=bass clarinet envy)
7) gaze at the moon for 4’33” of silence


8) make big shadows on the walls by waving your arms
9) laugh so hard that you cry
10) wear something ruby-colored
11) hold a tomato in your hand and squeeze it slowly over a bowl (wear an apron, and wash your hands first so you can eat the mess)
12) gossip as fast as you can for 30 seconds
13) back to the moon, of course. Use binoculars to see its shape.
14) recite a favorite poem, then give your toast to the poet.


15) all about sighs – voiceless and voiced, all kinds of emotions, but mostly nostalgia.
16) light several candles (in lieu of smoking a pipe)
17) talk “in canon” with a friend (with or without warning)
18) wear something black
19) stand on one leg and say “pizzicato” (do this more than once)
20) float a boat in the bathtub
21) breathe in the centennial air and salute the moon 21 times


I hope you will all focus on PIERROT wherever you are,
and thus we will all be connected for this 100th birthday celebration.

Cheers to you all,

Lucy Shelton

When we last played at Carnegie Hall, in 2008, Allan Kozinn wrote in the New York Times that the ensemble “is now in another league… [The performance was] “virtuosic, polished and played largely from memory.”

We return to Carnegie’s Zankel Hall next Monday to present a motley concert highlighting the kaleidoscopic diversity of recent classical music. English composer Thomas Adès takes us to a children’s playground for the high-spirited hijinks of Catch, while Stephen Hartke’s Pulitzer Prize finalist, Meanwhile, evokes the surreal world of an imaginary Asian court theater. Frenchman Pierre Boulez’s Dérive 1 conjures an other-worldly beauty, punctured by countryman Philippe Hurel’s dense, swirling hive of notes, ...à mesure, which challenges even eighth blackbird’s formidable skills.

Music by two New York natives round out the program. Philip Glass’s Music in Similar Motion, with its radically bald, hypnotic repetitions, retains its power to shock and delight, and rising star Missy Mazzoli’s Still Life with Avalanche gives musical form to a torrent of powerful and unexpected emotions.

Visit Carnegie Hall’s website for tickets. As an eighth blackbird fan, you can get a 10% discount if you use the offer code EBB11265.*

When: Monday, January 31, 2011 at 7:30 PM
Where: Zankel Hall, 57th Street and Seventh Avenue, New York, NY


Missy Mazzoli Still Life with Avalanche (2008)

Pierre Boulez Dérive 1 (1984)

Philip Glass Music in Similar Motion (1969)

Philippe Hurel …à mesure (1996)

Thomas Adès Catch (1991)

Stephen Hartke Meanwhile (2007)

*This discount is valid from 11AM on January 27th through 11:59PM on January 30th.  Limit of eight tickets per purchase. Some limitations may apply. Offer is subject to availability and prior sale, is not valid on prior purchases, and cannot be combined with any other discounts or promotions. Valid by phone, at the Box Office, and/or online. No refunds or exchanges. Internet and phone orders are subject to standard convenience fees.

Keep us is your hearts and prayers…

eighth blackbird
Chamber Music Society of Louisville (Louisville KY) | 15 November 2009

SUN 15 Nov

8:03a Lv Chicago (ORD) – United 5992
10:20a Ar Louisville (SDF)

You will be met by three drivers at the airport

University of Louisville – School of Music
Louisville, KY 40292

Comstock Concert Hall
(percussion will have been delivered and set up)

Comstock Concert Hall


Mazzoli: Still Life with Avalanche
Boulez: Derive I
Mellits: Spam
Turnage: Grazioso!
~ intermission ~
Perle: Critical Moments 2
Adès: Catch
Hartke: Meanwhile

Transportation back to the airport (10 min.)

6:52p Lv Louisville (SDF) – United 6198
7:20p Ar Chicago (ORD)

8:30 Collapse @ home.

View from Colburn suite

It’s a beautifully sunny day in downtown Los Angeles.  The birds are singing, a cool breeze blows through my window as I sip my morning coffee (Peet’s, to be sure) and gaze out from the penthouse guest suites at the Colburn School at the resplendent Disney Concert Hall. In a few minutes, I’ll head down to the seemingly unlimited supply of acoustically pure practice rooms (open 24 hours a day!) to do my warm-ups and some memory work on the Adès and Hartke in preparation for our show in La Jolla tomorrow. On the way I might pick up a healthy snack at the Colburn Café which is a far cry from any campus dining hall I’ve ever been to.  A great selection from carb-conscious nibbles to indulgent sweets.

This state of the art facility is home to 110 or so of today’s brightest upcoming young performers who have come to hone their skill, expand their range and hopefully open their minds to consider new and different ways of expression.  For the next week, 8bb will make our home here as we collaborate and cross-pollinate with several of the top students here.  On Sunday April 26 at 3pm we will present a program where we’ve split the group down the middle and filled in the gaps with young players to perform Stephen Hartke’s Meanwhile, the seminal Pierrot Lunaire of Arnold Schoenberg starring the inimitable Lucy Shelton, and Steve Reich’s Double Sextet.

Yesterday we held our second rehearsal for Meanwhile which is getting some extra attention this week since we’ve asked the students to memorize the score and learn our choreography for the piece.  The group as it appears below in the gorgeous Olive St. rehearsal room is 50% Aussie and 50% American.  Tim now has a chance to speak his native tongue in rehearsals, excusing himself to the dunny, correcting someone’s unevenly executed, semi-quavers and planning for a bloody bonzer arvo trip to Amoeba Records.

Hartke rehearsal at Colburn

Did I mention the students are good?  Bloody good. Well prepared, musically sensitive and all around fun folks.  I’m sure more documents of this exciting project will come out over the next week so keep a look-out.  I’ve got to get to the practice room!

It’s 6:30 PM and I’m all alone in the studio.  Sort of.

After being gone for almost 2 weeks, with most of my colleagues still away taking a short European holiday, I am back in Chicago rehearsing and putting the finishing touches on Lee Hyla’s rockin’ tour de force for bass clarinet and baritone saxophone We Speak Etruscan. It crazy-fun and has been kicking my ass for weeks.  It hurts so good.

Several months ago, after being away for a long holiday, we returned to find that our case of quinoa (yes, we have a suitcase filled with 50 pounds of quinoa in our studio, we’re a new music group after all.) had been discovered by a (now potentially really obese) mouse.  It had gnawed through one of the inner bags and feasted upon the delights within leaving a trail piles of grain dust and mouse excrement in its wake.  There was also a box of chocolates we received as a gift on our meeting table which had been ripped to shreds and emptied of its precious cargo, an open package of crackers with…surprise…no crackers in it in the kitchen area, several mostly-empty Coke cans on the floor and a bucket of dirty dishes next to the fridge. When I found this, I enjoyed a brief inner tantrum, cursing the unsanitary conditions of the studio and general lackadaisical approach to cleanliness.

I cleaned up the mess as best I could, bleached all surfaces which may have been trod upon by the critter’s dirty claws or subject to its…leavings.  Swept, vacuumed, air-freshened, washed the dishes, discarded partially consumed human-food and secured that which had been spared.

After this, things got better.  Dishes were no longer left in the bucket overnight, food was sealed and put away, trash was removed before it escaped the confines of its bin, spills were wiped up.  For months, there was no sign of our cohabitant.  It was lovely, but all good things must come to an end.

I came to the studio today to practice and rehearse and saw a pile of pistachio shells on the floor in the kitchen area.  (insert mini-tantrum here) Near the pile, a bucket of dirty dishes.  (the viscosity of my blood increases as my hate gland secretes its inky blackness into my veins) On the counter an open bag of pistachios with a trail of partially eaten chocolates leading to a bowl of candy ringed with that which was most certainly NOT long grain brown rice.  (full on fury of disgust)


I cleaned up the mess as best I could, bleached all surfaces which may have been trod upon by the critter’s dirty claws or subject to its…leavings.  Swept, vacuumed, air-freshened, washed the dishes, discarded partially consumed human-food and secured that which had been spared.

Rehearsal went well, we played a successful and convincing performance of “Etruscan” for the composer.  Happy day.

Until 6:15 PM when I am quietly sanding some new reeds.  I hear a “tink” from the kitchen area.  Under the din of the heating system I think nothing of it until a few minutes later, “tink.” I head to the kitchen and look around.  Nothing.  Back to reed profiling.



I look under the mixing/recording desk and see…


I’m quite certain those shells weren’t there after I swept the floor just hours before.  As I slowly stood from this investigation, my gaze (and face) passed by the opened back end of the electronics rack above where the shells had been found.  To my delight and surprise (read: horror and disgust) I found myself staring into the beady black eyes of our brown-furred uninvited guest.  Inside this dark and complicated box, he had built for himself a comfortable home of wires, shredded wrappers, dung and…pistachio shells.

When he noticed me, he retreated deep within the component rack and I went to work, pulling out the cables and instruction manuals before reattaching the lids to the case and turning it up on its end trapping the lil’ fella inside.

Mouse trap

As I write, I can hear his pestilent little claws scratching to find an escape.  Not gonna happen little one.  We’re going to go on a holiday of our own, perhaps to a lovely field or a nearby dumpster.  You’ll have all the pistachios you can eat there.  I’ll even through in some dried mango.  Buon appetito, little guy.


While at O’Hare this morning, a curiously typical financial transaction occurred.

[Nick throws a dollar bill in my lap]

Michael: “What’s this for?”
Nick: “You gave me a dollar for the vending machine last night.”
Michael: “Oh yeah, I forgot.”

[Michael hands the dollar bill to Tim]

Tim: “What’s this for?”
Michael: “I owe you some money for the cab driver’s tip.”
Tim: “Oh whatever.  No big deal.”

[Tim hands the dollar bill to Nick]

Nick: “Why are you giving this to me?”
Tim: “I owed you change from dinner in Kennesaw.”

[Nick puts the dollar back in his wallet]

George Perle photographed by Sara Krulwich/The New York Times
George Perle as photographed by Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

George Perle died yesterday.  I didn’t know him well but, his passing has made me sad and nostalgic.  As a member of a new music ensemble which prides itself on performing works of living composers, George’s death is significant.  He is the first composer who has written for us, with whom we have had the honor and privilege of working, who has passed on.  He will certainly be missed. Our deepest condolences to his wife Shirley.

A beautiful obituary by Allan Kozinn appears in today’s New York Times.