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Regarded as one of the premier new music groups in the world, eighth blackbird has established a reputation for its provocative and engaging performances. The winners of the Naumburg Chamber Music Award and the Concert Artists Guild International Competition, where they were the first contemporary ensemble to win first prize, the group is also a three-time recipient of the CMA/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming. Other awards include top prizes at the Fischoff and Coleman National Chamber Music Competitions. The group has been featured on CBS' "Sunday Morning" and was the subject of an extended profile in The New York Times. The ensemble is currently in residence at the University of Richmond and the University of Chicago.
Highlights of eighth blackbird's 2005/06 tenth anniversary season include a California tour, with stops in Los Angeles, La Jolla, Stanford, and Davis; a performance at New York's 92nd Street Y; and the group's debut concert at Boston's Celebrity Series. eighth blackbird will showcase its virtuosity in three innovative programs during the season. A tenth-anniversary program, "lucid, inescapable rhythms," features significant works honoring the ensemble's mentors and collaborators. A tour of Osvaldo Golijov's Ayre with soprano Dawn Upshaw, and a special collaboration with the Blair Thomas & Co. puppet theater and soprano Lucy Shelton, performing a fully memorized and staged cabaret-opera version of Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire, round out the trio of presentations.
The 2004/05 season included eighth blackbird's western European debut with the Ijsbreker festival in Amsterdam, as well as performances in Toronto, New York, San Francisco, and throughout the East Coast and Midwest. In recent seasons the sextet has performed in South Korea, Mexico, Poland, and throughout the United States.
Since its founding in 1996, eighth blackbird has been active in commissioning new works from eminent composers - most notably Frederic Rzewski, George Perle, and Joseph Schwantner - as well as ground-breaking works from Jennifer Higdon, Derek Bermel, David Schober, Daniel Kellogg, Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez, David Ludwig, and the Minimum Security Composers Collective. The group received the first BMI/Boudleaux-Bryant Fund Commission and the 2004 NEA/CMA Special Commissioning Award, and has received grants from BMI, Meet the Composer, the Greenwall Foundation, and Chamber Music America.
The ensemble recently signed a three-record agreement with Cedille Records. Repertoire on their first two CDs for the label includes works by Joan Tower, George Perle, David Schober, Thomas Albert, Daniel Kellogg, and George Crumb. Their latest, entitled fred and featuring the music of Frederic Rzewski, followed in Spring 2005. Round Nut Tool, eighth blackbird's debut CD, was self-released in 1999.
eighth blackbird is active in teaching young artists about contemporary music and has taught master classes and conducted outreach activities throughout the country. The group derives its name from the Wallace Stevens poem "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird." 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
Visit www.eighthblackbird.com for more information.