2010 Archives

Meadows Prize recipient eighth blackbird to begin Dallas residency

Grammy-winning sextet will present free public events during October 17-23

October 21, 2010

eighth blackbirdDALLAS (SMU) – Last fall, SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts announced the first two recipients of the inaugural 2009-2010 Meadows Prize, a new international arts residency: the Grammy-winning new music ensemble eighth blackbird and the New York-based public arts organization Creative Time.

The prize includes housing for a one-to-three-month residency in Dallas, transportation expenses, studio/office space and project costs, in addition to a $25,000 stipend. In return, recipients are expected to interact in a substantive way with Meadows students and collaborating arts organizations, and to leave a lasting legacy in Dallas.

After months of planning, eighth blackbird comes to Dallas for its first weeklong residency October 17-23, 2010. The group will participate in 20 different events at SMU during the week, including four events that are free and open to the public: an open rehearsal, a reading workshop of student compositions, an open panel discussion, and a public concert. The sextet will return to the SMU campus in November 2010 and February 2011.

“The first set of the new Meadows Prizes went to two extraordinary collectives, Creative Time and eighth blackbird, both of whom specialize in making the seemingly impossible possible,” said José Bowen, dean of the Meadows School. “eighth blackbird has found a way to make difficult contemporary classic music exciting, entertaining, approachable and profitable. Those are skills our students need. I am most happy that this residency will bring to our students not only cutting-edge music, but forward-thinking ways of presenting music and making a living in the modern musical world.”

The October events are as follows:

  Student Composers Reading Session
  What: In this unscripted session, eighth blackbird will read, perform, and discuss new works by music composition students in the Meadows School of the Arts.
  When: Wednesday, October 20, 12-2 p.m.
  Where: O’Donnell Hall, Room 2130, Owen Arts Center, 6101 Bishop Blvd. on the SMU campus
  Cost: Free
  Info: Call 214-768-1951
  Open Rehearsal with eighth blackbird
  What: Members of eighth blackbird will lead auditors through a public rehearsal of the ensemble’s current repertoire. Questions from the audience will be addressed during the rehearsal.
  When: Wednesday, October 20, 7-9 p.m.
  Where: Caruth Auditorium, Owen Arts Center, 6101 Bishop Blvd. on the SMU campus
  Cost: Free
  Info: Call 214-768-1951
  eighth blackbird Speaks Out
  What: Members of eighth blackbird will discuss various topics, including the business aspects of running a chamber music ensemble, the history of the group, how the ensemble finds and rehearses repertoire, and more. Questions and participation from the audience welcomed.
  When: Friday, October 22, 12-2 p.m.
  Where: O’Donnell Hall, Room 2130, Owen Arts Center, 6101 Bishop Blvd. on the SMU campus
  Cost: Free
  Info: Call 214-768-1951
  eighth blackbird In Concert
  What: An extraordinary and engaging program will include Still Life with Avalanche by Missy Mazzoli, Catch by Thomas Ades, Stephen Hartke’s Meanwhile, and Steve Reich’s Pulitzer-prize winning Double Sextet, written on a commission from eighth blackbird. Outstanding students from the Division of Music will join eighth blackbird in both the Mazzoli and Reich.
  When: Saturday, October 23, 8 p.m.
  Where: Caruth Auditorium, Owen Arts Center, 6101 Bishop Blvd. on the SMU campus
  Cost: Free
  Info: Call 214-768-1951

The Chicago-based eighth blackbird is one of the most musically accomplished and innovative ensembles in the world. They are equally at home playing viola and flute, or kazoos and reverberating gongs, or opening a piano and playing on the strings and frame with toothpicks, credit cards and dish brushes. The group performs from memory and often incorporates theatrical elements into its shows. Their mission is to create high quality new music experiences that are unique, entertaining, and relevant to all audiences. “It’s new music you can bring home to your mother,” observed the Washington Post. The members of the group include Matthew Albert, violin/viola; Nicholas Photinos, cello; Tim Munro, flutes; Michael Maccaferri, clarinets; Lisa Kaplan, piano; and Matthew Duvall, percussion.

eighth blackbird has commissioned new works from George Perle, Frederic Rzewski, Joseph Schwantner, Stephen Hartke, and the Minimum Security Composers Collective, among many others. The group received the first BMI/Boudleaux-Bryant Fund Commission and the 2007 American Music Center Trailblazer Award and has received grants from BMI, Meet the Composer, the Greenwall Foundation, and Chamber Music America. Their CD strange imaginary animals won the 2008 Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance. In its review of the CD, BBC Music Magazine wrote, “eighth blackbird play like musicians possessed; excited by the new, determined that their CD audiences will be too, they take wing, soaring on an upthrust of precision-tooled virtuosity.”

eighth blackbird formed in 1996 when its members were students at Oberlin Conservatory of Music. Now celebrating its 15th season, the group showcases music by the two most recent Pulitzer Prize-winning composers in its 2010-11 recording and performing repertoire, programming new and recent works (written expressly for the ensemble) by both Jennifer Higdon and Steve Reich. Highlights of the current season include a return to Zankel Hall; performances at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, representing the fourth year of the ensemble’s hometown series; a tour of Higdon’s new concerto On a Wire with several high-profile orchestras; Reich festivals on both sides of the Atlantic – at Carnegie Hall and London’s Barbican Hall; a return to the Library of Congress for a concert that includes the world premiere of a new work by Stephen Hartke; and two new CDs – featuring, respectively, Reich’s prize-winning Double Sextet (on Nonesuch) and Steven Mackey and Rinde Eckert’s music-theater piece Slide (on Cedille). Headlining the group’s season is its new politically-driven two-part program “Powerful/less,” tackling Stravinsky's provocative statement questioning the value, meaning and power of art.

eighth blackbird takes its name from Wallace Stevens’ poem “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird,” in which the eighth stanza reads:

I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.

For more information on eighth blackbird, visit www.eighthblackbird.com.

News Media Contact:
Victoria Winkelman




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