Our Staff


Peter-McDowell Peter McDowell, managing director

Serving as Managing Director for Eighth Blackbird since 2013, Peter McDowell describes his job as a combination of an air traffic controller and a long-range planner. He’s been a longtime fan of the group since first booking them over 10 years ago when he served as Program Director at the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs.

Having worked in arts management positions in San Francisco, New York City, and Chicago over the past 20 years, Peter has come back home to his native Illinois roost. In his spare time, he works with performing arts clients through Peter McDowell Arts Consulting and he is creating his first feature-length documentary film, Jimmy in Saigon. The son of a classical/jazz clarinetist and the brother of a composer/pianist, music runs in his family. Oh also, Peter is a former professional child opera singer.


Kelley DorhauerKelley Dorhauer, business manager

Kelley started working with Eighth Blackbird in June 2015 and handles the group’s finance, business, and HR issues.  She loves an organized, color-coded spreadsheet as much as Liz Lemon.  Previously she worked at Lyric Opera of Chicago and Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music.

When she isn’t taking care of business, Kelley immerses herself in music.  She received her masters degree in saxophone performance from DePaul University and undergraduate degree from Elmhurst College in music business.  She performs in several Chicago-area ensembles, most notably Heisenberg Uncertainty Players.  Kelley recently welcomed a beautiful baby boy into the world.


annie_300x200Annie Higgins, company and operations manager

Annie joined the family in September 2013 as part-time Company Manager. She works on coordinating the sometimes complex travel schedules of the ensemble and accompanying members, and also works closely with Madeleine to assist with various production needs. Annie comes to 8bb after having worked for 6 years at CASA, a non-profit that advocates for foster children in Cook County. She earned her B.S.W. from University of Montana, where she also studied music and worked at a Russian travel agency.

In her down time, she moonlights as the songwriter for the Chicago band Weatherman, and started the composer interview forum, Secret Weapon. She loves riding her bike to work, listening to hip hop, and reading detective novels.


Justin Peters, office and facilities manager

Justin joined the Eighth Blackbird team in December of 2016 as the Office and Facilities Manager. He helps to make sure the office and studio run smoothly by maintaining mailing lists, scheduling piano tunings, managing gear moves, and making sure the staff and ensemble has everything they need.

Justin studied percussion performance at the University of Illinois. Outside of the office, he freelances as a percussionist, and can frequently be heard playing with Matthäus and Boycut.


Employment Opportunities

Click here for current employment opportunities at Eighth Blackbird.