Lab Alumni: Flocking All Fall

We are proud to share just a few fall highlights which exemplify one of Blackbird Creative Lab’s midterm goals: to create a confident and self-sustaining network of peers who could translate the core lessons of the Lab into professional maturation, clearer strategy and resources not only for creating exciting work, but also raising the funding, gathering the team, negotiating the fees and confronting unexpected obstacles to get it done.

In September, 2018 alumna, soprano and North Carolina native Andrea Edith Moore, recorded her debut album Family Secrets: Kith & Kin with Eighth Blackbird’s Lisa Kaplan on piano, Nick Photinos on cello and 2017-18 Lab Director and Grammy award-winner Elaine Martone as producer.

Nick, Andrea, Lisa and Elaine with collaborators, 2019

Also in early fall, 2017 ensembles Juxtatonal of Detroit and 2018 CAG winners Invoke of Austin convened for a week long WholeHearted Musician’s Residency for Chamber Ensembles at the Avaloch Farm Music Institute with Lab faculty member Dana Fonteneau.  Each group left with a better articulated roadmap for the next phase career growth, deeper understanding of its members’ working styles and its group dynamics, and clearer shared long term vision. Check out more about Dana’s work here. We also recommend her book, It’s Not (JUST) About the Gig: A Musician’s Guide to Creating the Mindset Which Leads to Career Success AND Fulfillment.

In October, 2018 ensemble ~NOIS premiered new works by Kinds of Kings collective, with leadership from Lab alumna composer, curator and writer Gemma Peacocke at New York’s famed Roulette in October.  A mini reunion was had by all the east coasters who attended. Read a review from I Care if You Listen here.

Lab alumni celebrating in Brooklyn after the show: members of ~NOIS, The Furies, Parhelion Trio and Kinds of Kings composer Gemma Peacocke Photo: Deirdre Harrison

In November, Detroit-based soprano-cello duo, Juxtatonal, Lab ’17, joined saxophonist/composer Nick Zoulek, Lab ’18, in Chicago for a ten day midwest tour at venues in Chicago, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio. As with the projects above, these Lab alumni ran effective fundraising, marketing and communications campaigns as well as showing their production shops.

That Lab alumni are truly making manifest the core values of The Lab with the BHAGS (big hairy audacious goals):

  • unquestioned quality
  • pervasive innovation
  • intense work ethic
  • genuine informality
  • bold openness
Jocelyn Zelasko of Juxtatonal & Nick Zoulek at The Boxcar, 2019 photo: Helen Holman

Last, but very much not least, 2018 Lab alumna and violinist Elly Toyoda stepped away from her doctoral studies to perform for a week at University of Oklahoma with Eighth Blackbird as its violinist.  She will play with The Birds in February and April 2020 as well. We love you Elly!

Elly Toyoda

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