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eighth blackbird


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.

The 2004-05 season includes 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, including concerts at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Library of Congress, and Herbst Theater. In the last year, the ensemble appeared as soloists with the Utah Symphony, American Composers Orchestra and the Oberlin Orchestra. eighth blackbird has performed several times at the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival and Cincinnati's Music X, and has also appeared at the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival, the Caramoor International Music Festival, the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival and the inaugural season of the Deer Valley Music Festival.

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 for the first release, titled thirteen ways and released in April 2003, included works by Joan Tower, George Perle, David Schober and Thomas Albert. The second CD, titled beginnings, which includes Daniel Kellogg's "Divinum Mysterium" and George Crumb's "Vox Balaenae," was released in May 2004, and the third disc, entitled fred and featuring the music of Frederic Rzewski, will follow 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, including the Aspen Music School System (grades K-12), the La Jolla Chamber Music Series, the Candlelight Concert Series and Hancher Auditorium at the University of Iowa.

The members of eighth blackbird hold degrees in music performance from Oberlin Conservatory, the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory and Northwestern University. 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