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Meadows Artist-in-Residence Matt Albert Wins Second Grammy Award

CD recorded with new music sextet eighth blackbird honored in “Best Small Ensemble Performance” category

SMU Meadows Artist-in-Residence Matt Albert, a violinist and violist, won his second Grammy Award on February 12 for the CD Lonely Motel – Music from Slide, which he recorded as a member of the contemporary music sextet eighth blackbird. The disc, featuring composer-guitarist Steven Mackey and librettist, singer and actor Rinde Eckert, was produced by Cedille Records and won in the “Best Small Ensemble Performance” category.

Albert founded eighth blackbird in 1996 with five other music students at Oberlin College and Conservatory, and performed with the group for 15 years. Eighth blackbird received numerous awards, including first prizes at the Naumburg, Concert Artists Guild, Coleman and Fischoff competitions. The group won its first Grammy, for “Best Chamber Music Performance,” in 2008 for its Cedille album Strange Imaginary Animals, a collection of short pieces by Mackey, Jennifer Higdon, Gordon Fitzell, David M. Gordon and Dennis DeSantis.

Albert and eighth blackbird spent four weeks at SMU during the 2010-11 school year as recipients of the inaugural Meadows Prize, a new international arts residency launched by the Meadows School of the Arts in fall 2009. During their visits to SMU, eighth blackbird members worked with Meadows music students in workshops, master classes, rehearsals and public performances.

Albert retired from the group in May 2011 and began a two-year appointment as Artist-in-Residence in the Meadows Division of Music in fall 2011. At SMU, Albert serves as director of the chamber music program and of SYZYGY (pronounced SIZZ-uh-jee), the Meadows new music ensemble.

“The music on Lonely Motel was something we’d been working with Steve and Rind on for almost eight years,” said Albert. “The recording was one of my last projects with the group, so for it to receive a Grammy feels like a wonderful culmination of the wonderful ride that my life with eighth blackbird was. You never know how the voting’s going to go, with so many deserving projects out there, so it’s a thrill and an honor to be chosen.”

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