eighth blackbird Wins 4th GRAMMY Award; HAND EYE Album Out This April
eighth blackbird, Chicago's fierce and vibrant contemporary classical sextet, has won a 2016 GRAMMY Award for Best Small Ensemble/Chamber Music Performance for "Filament" (September 2015; Cedille Records), featuring music by Bryce Dessner, Philip Glass, Nico Muhly, and Son Lux.
This marks the fourth GRAMMY Award for the group, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Previous GRAMMY Awards include Best Chamber Music Performance for strange imaginary animals (2007), Best Small Ensemble Performance for Lonely Motel: Music from Slide (2011) and Best Small Ensemble/Chamber Music Performance for Meanwhile (2013)-all on Chicago's Cedille Records.
eighth blackbird releases its next album, HAND EYE, on April 8 (Cedille Records).The centerpiece of the group's 2015-16 touring season, Hand Eye pairs the six players of eighth blackbird ("one of the smartest, most dynamic contemporary classical ensembles on the planet"-Chicago Tribune) with the six composers ofSleeping Giant ("unquestionably some of the most talented and engaging young composers around"-New Yorker). The result is an album-length suite that fizzles with the alchemy of twelve strong personalities. Heard as a continuous whole, Hand Eye opens on a shimmering landscape (South Catalina, Christopher Cerrone) and morphs into the buzzing contagion of an Internet meme (Mine, Mime, Meme, Andrew Norman) before accelerating to a high-velocity adventure-ride (Conduit, Robert Honstein). It then flickers and pulses like ink on paper (Checkered Shade, Timo Andres), features a soul-studded jam session (By-By Huey, Ted Hearne), and closes with a coda of warm but tattered beauty (Cast, Jacob Cooper).
Commissioned by the Maxine and Stuart Frankel Foundation for the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival and co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall, Hand Eye is a collection inspired by a collection. Each of the six composers of Sleeping Giant chose a work belonging to the Maxine and Stuart Frankel Foundation for Art as springboard for his own musical contribution and each of the six pieces is inspired by one of the six members of eighth blackbird. eighth blackbird has packed houses for the show in New York (Carnegie Hall/Zankel Hall) Philadelphia, Chicago, and Richmond.
Upcoming performances of Hand Eye include the University of Texas/McCullough Theater, Austin, TX (March 10) and Irvine Barclay Theater, Irvine, CA (April 24). eighth blackbird's full calendar can be found here, including shows in DC, Chicago, and Knoxville (Big Ears Festival, April 1).
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, four-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 of the smartest, most dynamic contemporary classical ensembles on the planet" (Chicago Tribune), eighth blackbird 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, eighth blackbird 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 four impressive GRAMMY Awards: for strange imaginary animals (2007), Lonely Motel: Music from Slide (2011), Meanwhile (2013), and Filament (2016).
eighth blackbird's mission extends beyond recording and touring 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 features 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. Nathalie Joachim is a Burkart Flutes & Piccolos artist, Michael J. Maccaferri is a D'Addario Woodwinds Artist. Matthew Duvall proudly endorses Pearl Drums and Adams Musical Instruments, Vic Firth Sticks and Mallets, Zildjian Cymbals, and Black Swamp Percussion Accessories. Lisa Kaplan is a Steinway Artist. www.eighthblackbird.org