eighth blackbird announces 2015-16 SEASON


eighth blackbird announces
2015-16 SEASON



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 perform with a freedom almost unheard of in their technically demanding repertoire.” — The Sunday Telegraph

eighth blackbird (8bb) announces its 2015-16 season with a host of special projects, premieres, albums, and residencies fit for an organization whose artistic excellence is matched only by the scope of its mission.

The three-time GRAMMY Award-winning ensemble releases and tours two new albums—Filament and Hand Eye—with works by Bryce DessnerPhilip GlassNico MuhlySon Lux, and the composer collective Sleeping Giant (Timo AndresChristopher CerroneJacob CooperTed HearneRobert HonsteinAndrew Norman). Celebrated locals, 8bb will spend much of the year as a living installation in the role of artists-in-residence at Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA). Following a January stop to kick off the group’s 20th anniversary celebrations at Carnegie Hall with the New York premiere of Hand Eye, 8bb performs the world premiere of a newly commissioned work by David T. Little at the Kennedy Center in March 2016. This season, 8bb welcomes the talents of new flutist Nathalie Joachim (Flutronix, The Juilliard School), whose first public appearances with the ensemble will be at the Wratislavia Cantans Festival* in Wroclaw, Poland.

M A J R   P R O J E C T S


On September 11, Cedille Records releases eighth blackbird’s Filament (digital, CD, LP). The composers and performers are connected by Philip Glass, the album’s aesthetic grandfather, without whom none of this omnivorous music would exist. Nico Muhly’s Doublespeak was written for eighth blackbird for Bryce Dessner’s Music Now festival in Cincinnati, in honor of Philip Glass’s 75th birthday. This piece harks back to a time in the 1970s when, according to Muhly, “classical music perfected obsessive repetition.” From Glass himself, the album features the meditative yet rigorous 1968 work, Two Pages, which is written as a single unison line of music, and can be played by any combination of instruments. Both Muhly and Dessner join 8bb in performing this piece live for the album. In Murder Ballades, Bryce Dessner (of The National) re-examines several traditional murder ballads through his own musical lens and adds his own original tunes for the album. Recording artist Son Lux (Ryan Lott) contributes two remixes, gathering sounds from the others’ compositions and stringing together the delicate musical filament of this album with the addition of the voice of Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond).

H A N D   E Y E

The centerpiece of eighth blackbird’s touring season is the concert-length production Hand Eye, which pairs eighth blackbird with Sleeping Giant—a superstar composer sextet—creating a work fizzing with the alchemy of twelve unique personalities. Hand Eye’s composers embrace diverse worlds: wild rambunctiousness (Andrew Norman), driving tunes (Ted Hearne), fragile lyricism (Christopher Cerrone), flickering virtuosity (Timo Andres), atmospheric beauty (Jacob Cooper), and minimalism-tinged athleticism (Robert Honstein). Each composer has written a different section of Hand Eye, for a collection of six pieces catalyzed by each of the six members of eighth blackbird.  The evening is complemented by projections by the acclaimed visual performance designer Deborah Johnson, aka CandyStations, who has designed and performed live concert visuals for Sufjan Stevens, Ray LaMontagne, Lucius, St. Vincent, Wilco, Calexico, and ETHEL. Co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall, Hand Eye receives its New York premiere on January 18 at Zankel Hall, followed by its Chicago premiere on January 23-24 as part of the residency at the Museum of Contemporary Art, and will be released as an album on Cedille Records (January 18). 8bb tours this work throughout the season at places such as the University of Texas at Austin, Yale University, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Cal Performances, Vancouver New Music, and Philharmonic Society of Orange County.

B R Y C E   D E S S N E R  /  D A V I D   T.  L I T T L E

8bb performs the world premieres of new commissioned works by Bryce Dessner— a composer, guitarist, and music curator known widely through his band The National—and David T. Little, “one of the most imaginative young composers on the scene” (The New Yorker). The program premieres March 7 at The Kennedy Center, Terrace Theater, as part of the Fortas Chamber Music Concerts, and considers the myths, truths, and lies that have played a role in American history. Dessner, who is drawn to the early folk tradition of recounting violent acts with stories and songs, has expanded his Murder Ballades for the occasion. Little, whose compositions are shaped as much by his experience as a punk/metal drummer as his classical training, has written a new work for eighth blackbird. The program receives its Chicago premiere on March 2526 as part of the ensemble’s residency at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (see below).


M U S E U M   O F   C O N T E M P O R A R Y   A R T   C H I C A G O

Artists-in-residence at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA) from September 2015 through June 2016, eighth blackbird will take over MCA galleries as studio space, rehearsing and performing as a living installation. Through this lively and unusual residency,8bb shares the creative process of making music with MCA visitors with a regular series of engaging talks, workshops, and live performances that showcase the group’s vibrant work.

The residency occupies the MCA’s third-floor galleries, divided into two designated spaces: a studio/rehearsal room and a visitor engagement space. Outside of rehearsal times, visitors can see what rehearsals are like through an immersive video soundscape projecting footage from a previous rehearsal of David Lang’s these broken wings across the walls of the galleries. 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 the gallery and installation, the residency entails two major performances presented by MCA Stage in the museum’s Edlis Neeson Theater. The first is Hand Eye (January 23-24), 8bb’s touring collection of six pieces by the six composers of Sleeping Giant with projections by the Deborah Johnson, aka CandyStations. On March 25-26, 8bb performs the Chicago premiere of Bryce Dessner’s Murder Ballades and David T. Little’s commissioned piece.

U N I V E R S I T Y   O F   C H I C A G O

Resident artist with the University of Chicago since 2000, 8bb joins the Pacifica Quartet, conductor Cliff Colnot, and artistic director Marta Ptaszynska to form the new music collective known as Contempo. Now in its 51st season, Contempo has earned an enviable reputation for outstanding performances of music by living composers, both established and emerging. 8bb works with student composers on campus and performs on four Contempo concerts this season: a portrait concert for outgoing artistic director Shulamit Ran on October 27, “Focus on Europe” on February 29 and Tomorrow’s Music Today” programs featuring the works of doctoral students on May 13 and May 20.

U N I V E R S I T Y   O F   R I C H M O N D

8bb enjoys its eleventh year as Ensemble-in-Residence at the University of Richmond (Virginia) with six weeks on campus, working individually and collectively with students and performing concerts, master classes, and workshops. The 2015-16 dates include September 21–25, November 2–7 (in conjunction with the Third Practice Electroacoustic Music Festival), January 25–29, March 14–18, April 4–8, and April 11–18 (in conjunction with the Matthew Ulery project).

O U R   S C H E D U L E   A T   A   G L A N C E

  • Wroclaw, Poland: Wratislavia Cantans Festival- National Forum of Music, Red Hall, 9/11
  • Krotoszyn, Poland: Wratislavia Cantans Festival- Concert Hall of Krotszyn Culture Centre, 9/12
  • Olawa, Poland: Wratislavia Cantans Festival- Olawa Art Center, 9/13
  • Richmond, VA: University of Richmond, 9/21–25
  • Cincinnati, OH: Chamber Music Cincinnati- Corbett Auditorium, 9/29
  • Appleton, WI: Lawrence University- Lawrence Memorial Chapel, 10/2
  • New Haven, CT: Yale University- Morse Recital Hall, 10/20
  • Chicago, IL: University of Chicago, 10/27
  • Winona, MN: St. Mary’s UMN Winona- Page Theatre, 10/28
  • Richmond, VA: University of Richmond,11/ 2–7
  • Austin, TX: University of Texas at Austin-McCullough Theatre, 11/13
  • Philadelphia, PA: Philadelphia Chamber Music Society- Perelman Theater, 1/15
  • New York, NY: Carnegie Hall- Zankel Hall, 1/18
  • Chicago, IL: Museum of Contemporary Art- Edlis Neeson Theater, 1/23–24
  • Richmond, VA: University of Richmond, 1/25–29
  • Berkeley, CA: Cal Performances- Hertz Concert Hall, 2/14
  • Chicago, IL: University of Chicago-Logan Center, 2/29
  • Washington, DC: Fortas Chamber Music Concerts- The Kennedy Center, Terrace Theater, 3/7
  • Richmond, VA: University of Richmond, 3/14–18
  • Chicago, IL: Museum of Contemporary Art- Edlis Neeson Theater 3/25–26
  • Winchester, VA: Shenandoah Conservatory- Armstrong Recital Hall, 4/2
  • Richmond, VA: University of Richmond, 4/4–8, 4/11–18
  • Fairfield, CT: Fairfield University- Quick Center for the Arts, 4/21
  • Irvine, CA: Philharmonic Society of Orange County- Barclay Theatre, 4/24
  • Vancouver, BC, Canada: Vancouver New Music- The Orpheum Annex, 4/30
  • Chicago, IL: University of Chicago-Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, 5/13
  • Chicago, IL: University of Chicago-Logan Center, 5/20

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

eighth blackbird’s “super-musicians” (Los Angeles Times) combine the finesse of a string quartet, the energy of a rock band, and the audacity of a storefront theater company. The Chicago-based, three-time GRAMMY Award-winning sextet has provoked and impressed audiences for 20 years across the country and around the world with impeccable precision and a signature style.

One the industry’s most formidable ensembles, eighth blackbird (8bb) began in 1996 as a group of six entrepreneurial Oberlin Conservatory students and quickly became “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).

Over the course of two decades, 8bb 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 six acclaimed recordings and three impressive GRAMMY Awards: for strange imaginary animals (2008), Lonely Motel: Music from Slide (2011) and Meanwhile (2013).

8bb’s mission extends beyond performance to curation and education. The ensemble 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 2015-16 season brings a lively residency at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, featuring open rehearsals, an interactive gallery installation, performances, and public talks.

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 managed by David Lieberman Artists. www.eighthblackbird.org

A B O U T   N A T H A L I E   J O A C H I M

Recognized for her versatile and innovative performing and composing, Nathalie Joachim has become a notable figure in the international music community. She is hailed by critics 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, internationally renowned for its ingenious stagecraft and technical prowess. 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 has served as a faculty member at The Juilliard School’s Music Advancement Program (MAP) and is regularly engaged by elite educational institutions nationwide.  2015-16 projects include commissions from Helen Simoneau Danse and Park Avenue Armory’s Under Construction Series, as well as the release of City of Breath, a new Flutronix EP. Nathalie is an official Burkart Flutes & Piccolos artist, and is signed to Village Again records in Japan.  She received her training in flute performance, audio production and sound design at The Juilliard School and The New School.

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Web*This engagement is supported by Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation through USArtists International in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.