Faculty


20150915_eighth_blackbird_1_WEBEighth 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).


higdon-fun-photoJennifer Higdon, Pulitzer Prize and Grammy winner, is one of the most performed living American composers working today. She has also been the recipient of a Guggenheim, Koussevitzky, and Pew Fellowships, as well as two awards from the American Academy of Arts & Letters. Commissions have come from a wide range of performers: from the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony, to The President’s Own Marine Band; from the Tokyo String Quartet to the new music ensemble, eighth blackbird, as well as individual artists such as singer Thomas Hampson, violinist Hilary Hahn and pianist, Yuja Wang. Her first opera on Charles Frazier’s book, “Cold Mountain”, was commissioned by Santa Fe Opera, Opera Philadelphia and Minnesota Opera; it has been a resounding success, selling out both runs and winning the International Opera Award. She makes her living from commissions and serves as composer-in-residence with various orchestras throughout the country. Her works are recorded on over 60 CDs. She holds the Rock Chair in Composition at The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.

For more info, visit www.jenniferhigdon.com.


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Composer, singer and bandleader Ted Hearne (b.1982, Chicago) draws on a wide breadth of influences ranging across music’s full terrain, to create intense, personal and multi-dimensional works.

The New York Times included Hearne’s oratorio The Source on its list of the best classical vocal performances of 2014, and (along with The New Yorker and The Nation) of the best albums of 2015. Law of Mosaics, Hearne’s 30-minute piece for string orchestra, was recently performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and San Francisco Symphony, and was named one of The New Yorker’s most notable albums of 2014 by Alex Ross.

Hearne performs with Philip White as the vocal-electronics duo R WE WHO R WE, belongs to the composer collective Sleeping Giant, and recent collaborations have paired him with great artists of many disciplines, including filmmaker Bill Morrison, director Daniel Fish, poet Saul Williams and legendary musician Erykah Badu. An active recording artist, his albums Katrina Ballads, The Source and Outlanders are available on New Amsterdam Records.

Ted Hearne is the recipient of the Gaudeamus Prize and the New Voices Residency from Boosey and Hawkes. He recently joined the composition faculty at the University of Southern California. Recent and upcoming works include commissions from the LA Philharmonic, eighth blackbird, A Far Cry, MIVOS Quartet, Ensemble dal niente and Roomful of Teeth.

His website is www.tedhearne.com.


dechiazza_headshot101216Mark DeChiazza is a director, filmmaker, designer, and choreographer. Many of his projects explore interactions between music performance and media to discover new expressive possibilities. His work can bring together composers, ensemble and musicians with visual artists, dancers, music ensembles, and makers of all types.

Called “wildly imaginative” and “a tour de force” by the Washington Post, Columbine’s Paradise Theater, his prior music-theater collaboration with composer Amy Beth Kirsten, continued an ongoing relationship with multiple-Grammy winning ensemble eighth blackbird that began in 2009 with their acclaimed production of Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire.  

Recent projects include: production concept, direction and choreography for Orpheus Unsung, a collaboration with composer Steven Mackey premiered at Guthrie Theater in June 2016; direction, video projection and set design for My Lai, an opera monodrama by Jonathan Berger featuring Kronos Quartet, traditional Vietnamese instrumentalist Van-Ahn Voh, and actor/tenor Rinde Eckert; direction and editing of the film Hireath, which partners with performance of Sarah Kirkland Snider’s 35-minute orchestral work of the same name, commissioned by North Carolina Symphony and Princeton Symphony Orchestra; choreography and design for Pulitzer-winning composer John Luther Adams’ Sila, a massive site-determined piece for 80 musicians commissioned by Lincoln Center; design and staging of SS15 and AW15 NYC fashion week installation/events for Japanese fashion label pas de calais;

DeChiazza’s film Colloquy with God for New York Polyphony, and his interpretive concert video of So Percussion performing Steven Mackey’s It Is Time have been featured on NPR Music, and American Composers Orchestra and The Crossing premiered his film installation for Amy Beth Kirsten’s strange pilgrims premiered at Carnegie Hall in February 2014.

DeChiazza studied film at Dartmouth College and Rhode Island School of Design, and set design and contemporary dance at North Carolina School of the Arts. He worked as a scenic artist for theater, before moving to New York City to begin a performing career in contemporary dance and dance-theater that spanned nearly two decades. Investigating the body and its relationships to space, time, and experience remain vital to his process across all disciplines.

More info and press at www.markdechiazza.com.


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