Chicago Artists Workshop

Eighth Blackbird, a four-time GRAMMY Award-winning Chicago-based music ensemble, debuts a new project this fall entitled “Eighth Blackbird Presents: The Chicago Artists Workshop” (CAW), a presenting series for 2020-2021 featuring performances by Chicago-based artists as well as visiting artists from beyond city limits. The series will present 24 performances, all hosted at the Eighth Blackbird production facility located at 4045 N. Rockwell St. These live-streamed ticketed events will also feature limited in-person seating. Tickets go on sale later this month.

“Specific tenets were central to the creation of The Chicago Artists Workshop,” says Eighth Blackbird Percussionist and Artistic Director Matthew Duvall. “In addition to showcasing the stellar artistry of artists working in a wide range of genres, we want to create work for them during a time when the performance industry is enormously threatened by COVID-19 causations. We also want the series to be defined by its extraordinary caliber and creativity.”

Concerts scheduled Oct. 20 – Dec. 8 are as follows. All concerts begin at 7 p.m. CST

  • Wednesday, Oct. 20: Lebanese-American tenor Karim Sulayman, joined by Eighth Blackbird’s Lisa Kaplan and Matthew Duvall;
  • Wednesday, Nov. 11: Singer songwriter Rebecca Rego performing “Songs for Cleaning Women” based on the writings of Lucia Berlin;
  • Wednesday, Nov. 18: Three-time GRAMMY Award-nominee Justin Roberts (guitar/vocals) and Anna Steinhoff (cello) performing works from Roberts’ latest album, “Wild Life;”
  • Tuesday, Dec. 1: Media artist, filmmaker, pianist Xuan . Xuan is an alumna of The Eighth Blackbird Creative Lab;
  • Tuesday, Dec. 8: Image Award-winning poet, artist, musician, author and actor J. Ivy performing work from his just released album “Catching Dreams.” Artists/dates/times are subject to change. 

Click here for tickets and more information.

CAW series’ production standards will include a cinematic multi-camera configuration, full lighting and audio support, and a modern performance aesthetic, creating a highly-polished broadcast product. Artists will also be invited into the Eighth Blackbird studio for multi-day workshop residencies to rehearse, create, and refine production curation.

The Chicago Artists Workshop began with a question: ‘How can Eighth Blackbird be helpful to other artists?’,” says Pianist and Executive Director Lisa Kaplan . “An early experiment involved bringing three artists, each with unique and varying needs, into the Eighth Blackbird studio to use our workspace and facilities. Now, the concept expands into Eighth Blackbird’s newest audacious initiative, which also provides us the opportunity to pursue our goal of becoming a leading production facility for streaming live performance in the Chicago area.” CAW is made possible in part with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

About Eighth Blackbird

Eighth Blackbird is “one of the smartest, most dynamic contemporary classical ensembles on the planet” (Chicago Tribune). Launched in 1996 by six committed Oberlin Conservatory undergraduates, this Chicago-based super-group has earned its status as “a brand-name…defined by adventure, vibrancy and quality…” (Detroit Free Press). Eighth Blackbird has since evolved from ensemble to institution, currently realizing its mission through five initiatives: Eighth Blackbird, the award-winning sextet; Blackbird IV, a piano/percussion duo featuring founding members Lisa Kaplan and Matthew Duvall; the Blackbird Creative Lab, the organization’s mentoring arm; Blackbird Productions, a designation for wide-ranging creative projects; and the Chicago Artists Workshop, a streaming platform created to support artists.

Recent achievements include a fourth GRAMMY Award, the inaugural Chamber Music America Visionary Award, an Ensemble of the Year Award from Musical America, and the prestigious MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. In 2017, the company launched the Blackbird Creative Lab, a tuition-free summer training program, alumni network, and career support platform for emerging professionals focused on cutting edge musicianship, dynamic performance aesthetic, and savvy entrepreneurship. Set to celebrate its 25th Anniversary in 2021, Eighth Blackbird continues to fuel the modern canon it helped engine with hundreds of commissioned and premiered works by dozens of composers including Viet Cuong, Pamela Z, Bryce Dessner, Jennifer Higdon, Amy Beth Kirsten, David Lang, Andy Akiho, Missy Mazzoli, Nico Muhly, 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 ten acclaimed recordings and four impressive GRAMMY Awards for Best Small Ensemble/Chamber Music Performance. Eighth Blackbird’s most recent album, “Singing in the Dead of Night” by Lang, Julia Wolfe, and Michael Gordon, was released by Cedille in June 2020.

The group’s latest venture is the inaugural 2020–2021 Chicago Artists Workshop, a full season presenting 24 online concerts with a stellar lineup of featured artists as well as a residency program offering studio space and technical support to area artists. For more information about Eighth Blackbird visit eighthblackbird.org and visit them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @eighthblackbird.