July 2015

Media Contacts: 

Elena Grotto 312.397.3828 egrotto@mcachicago.org

Karla Loring 312.397.3834 kloring@mcachicago.org

Images: www.mcachicago.org/media 


September 2015 – June 2016 

Building on a long-standing and rich history of working with eighth blackbird, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago announces the acclaimed Chicago-based ensemble as this year’s artists-in-residence. Throughout the residency—spanning September 2015 through June 2016—the artists will be embedded in the galleries, utilizing the MCA as their studio space. They will rehearse and perform throughout the museum sharing the creative process of making music with MCA visitors. During the residency, there will be a regular series of accessible and engaging talks, workshops, and live performances that showcase the work of eighth blackbird.

The eighth blackbird residency occupies the museum’s third-floor galleries, which are divided into two designated spaces: a studio/rehearsal room and a visitor engagement space. eighth blackbird will be at the museum rehearsing in the studio space to allow visitors to experience their creative work up close. Outside of rehearsal times, visitors can see what rehearsals are like through an immersive video soundscape that projects footage from a previous rehearsal of David Lang’s these broken wings across the walls of the galleries.2

Through accompanying audio, visitors can listen to the compositions that the musicians are preparing for upcoming concerts and hear the discussions that the artists have with each other as they rehearse. Instruments and scores will also be in the space when the artists are not on-site.

In the adjacent engagement space, the gallery has been transformed into a gathering space for visitors to experience participatory musical installations and explore how to listen to and engage with new music. The engagement space features an interactive installation of John Cage’s seminal Child of Tree (1975)—a conceptual work that inspired the museum to select a group of instruments made of plant materials. This installation presents visitors with the opportunity to explore new ways of listening as they perform the piece using the amplified instruments. Graphics and archival materials that were sourced in collaboration with music libraries at Northwestern University and the University of Chicago are installed to tell a story of how the contemporary music field is evolving, both in Chicago and nationally. As the residency evolves, additional projects will take place in the engagement space.

In addition to occupying the gallery spaces, eighth blackbird will hold two performances presented by MCA Stage in the museum’s Edlis Neeson Theater. Other members of the new music community will also contribute to the residency by leading performances, talks, and workshops on the second Tuesday of each month, from October through May (specific programs will be announced each month).

Rehearsal Schedule 

September 1-3, 2015

September 15-19, 2015

September 26, 2015

(Specific times will be announced on the MCA website, as will the schedule for future months.)


MCA Stage presents eighth blackbird: Hand Eye 

January 23–24, 2016

Hand Eye connects two groups in one vibrant project—the six members of eighth blackbird are paired with Sleeping Giant, a collective of six composers. Each composer has written a different section of Hand Eye, composing each in reference to a different visual artwork, and the sections each highlight one eighth blackbird musician. The entire evening is accompanied by a set and visual design by Deborah Johnson, aka CandyStations, who has collaborated with musicians including Sufjan Stevens, Ray LaMontagne, St. Vincent, Lucius, Wilco, and ETHEL.

MCA Stage presents eighth blackbird: Bryce Dessner, David T. Little 

March 25–26, 20163

The ensemble performs new works by Bryce Dessner— a composer, guitarist, and music curator known widely through his band The National—and David T. Little, an acclaimed composer of innovative opera, orchestral, and chamber works. Dessner, who is drawn to the early folk tradition of recounting violent acts with stories and songs, has expanded his Murder Ballades to include additional music. Little, whose compositions reflect his experience as a punk/metal drummer as well as his classical training, is composing a new work that will be developed throughout the course of eighth blackbird’s residency at the MCA.

About eighth blackbird 

eighth blackbird, the Chicago-based, three-time Grammy Award-winning sextet has provoked and impressed audiences for twenty years across the country and around the world. One the industry’s most formidable ensembles, eighth blackbird began in 1996 as a group of six entrepreneurial Oberlin Conservatory students. 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).

The ensemble’s mission extends beyond performance to curation and education. They served as Music Director of the Ojai Music Festival (2009), enjoyed a three-year residency at the Curtis Institute of Music, and holds ongoing Ensemble-in-Residence positions at the University of Richmond and the University of Chicago. The name “eighth blackbird” derives from the eighth stanza of Wallace Stevens’s poem, Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird (1917). eighth blackbird is managed by David Lieberman Artists.

Percussionist Matthew Duvall is a founding member of eighth blackbird and holds a double degree in Percussion Performance and Classical Civilization, with minors in Art History and Religion, from Oberlin Conservatory and Oberlin College. Duvall completed additional degrees at the University of Cincinnati with The Percussion Group: Cincinnati, and Northwestern University.

Flutist Nathalie Joachim, a member of eighth blackbird since 2015, is a composer, producer and singer, and co-founded the internationally acclaimed urban art pop duo, Flutronix. She has performed with artists and ensembles including Miguel Zenón, Vampire Weekend, the International Contemporary Ensemble, Richard Reed Parry and Dan Deacon. Her original compositions have been premiered and featured at Park Avenue Armory, the Brooklyn Museum, and National Flute Association Conventions.

Pianist Lisa Kaplan is a founding member of eighth blackbird and has premiered new pieces by composers, including Andy Akiho, Derek Bermel, Jennifer Higdon, Amy Beth Kirsten, David Lang, Nico Muhly, George Perle and Steve Reich. Kaplan has collaborated with Mario Batali, Jeremy4

Denk, Bryce Dessner, Glenn Kotche, Gustavo Santaolalla, Steve Schick, Robert Spano, Dawn Upshaw and Michael Ward-Bergeman.

Violinist Yvonne Lam, a member of eighth blackbird since 2011, served as Assistant Concertmaster for the Washington National Opera Orchestra from 2008-2011 and has performed chamber music with such distinguished artists as Paul Katz, Roger Tapping, Anthony Marwood, Ida Kavafian, Ani Kavafian, Gil Kalish, and Fred Sherry.

Clarinetist and bass clarinetist Michael J. Maccaferri is a founding member of eighth blackbird and has performed as soloist with leading orchestras such as the Cleveland Orchestra, Toronto Symphony and the Atlanta Symphony. Maccaferri has also performed with the Hong Kong Philharmonic and the Green Bay Symphony and serves as bass clarinetist with the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra.

Cellist Nicholas Photinos, a member of eighth blackbird since 1996, has performed as a member of the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra and Canton and Columbus Symphony Orchestras, and performed and recorded with artists including Björk, Wilco, Autumn Defense, violinist Zach Brock, bassist Matt Ulery and singer Grazyna Auguscik. Photinos has recorded for numerous labels including the Cedille, Nonesuch, and Naxos labels.

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Lead support for the eighth blackbird residency is provided by Helen and Sam Zell. Additional generous support is provided by Anne Kaplan.

The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago is a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. The museum is generously supported by its Board of Trustees; individual and corporate members; private and corporate foundations, including the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; and government agencies, including the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency, and the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. Museum capital improvements are supported by a Public Museum Capital Grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The MCA is a proud member of Museums in the Park and receives major support from the Chicago Park District.

The MCA is located at 220 E. Chicago Avenue, one block east of Michigan Avenue. The museum and sculpture garden are open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm and Tuesday from 10 am to 8 pm. The museum is closed on Monday. Tuesdays are Community Free Days with free admission for Illinois residents. Suggested general admission is $12 for adults and $7 for students and seniors. Children 12 years of age and under, MCA members, and members of the military are admitted free. Information about MCA exhibitions, programs, and special events is available on the MCA website at mcachicago.org or by phone at 312.280.2660.