eighth blackbird, who spells their name with no capital letters, is the leading contemporary classical ensemble in the United States. If you've ever wondered, "What kind of music are composers writing in the 21st century?" or "What's the next step for classical music?", then eighth blackbird is your answer.
As Philip Glass said in a recent interview with the New York Times Magazine, “Young groups like eighth blackbird now, they can take art music and turn it into colloquial music and go back and forth between the two. We fought to break down those barriers, and those barriers are gone, there’s no battle. When I hear young composers, it’s not even clear to me whether they were conservatory-trained or they were trained in bars or restaurants or pop-music venues of the big cities. It’s irrelevant.”
eighth blackbird playing Music In Similar Motion by Philip Glass:
When you attend eighth blackbird’s KPC performance, you will witness a still-developing mode of playing called “extended technique”. Extended technique means that the musicians are using their instruments in new ways; this can be as simple as tapping a violin as though it were a drum or as unexpected as opening the piano and pulling on the strings instead of using the keys. The possibilities are endless and the soundscapes are fascinating!
Take a look at the Wikipedia article on extended techniques to see how many, and how innovative, they are.
Watch in this video as eighth blackbird pianist Lisa Kaplan reaches inside her piano and plays the strings with a percussion object:
eighth blackbird are highly regarded by their peers and have won many prestigious awards. For their KPC concert, they will perform, among other works, Steve Reich’s Pulitzer-winning Double Sextet (which they commissioned and recorded). Other Pulitzer winners throughout history include Aaron Copland, Wynton Marsalis, and John Adams. The Pulitzer is not necessarily awarded every year.
Watch this video and you’ll learn about yet another extended technique that this concert will employ: the six musicians made a recording of themselves to accompany their live performance in order to create an orchestration of twelve instruments. Using technology to extend musical instruments is all part of the eighth blackbird experience.
Steve Reich discusses his Pulitzer-winning work Double Sextet
Steve Reich isn’t the only composer featured in eighth blackbird’s performance at KPC. The evening’s program also includes:
Einstein on the Beach is one of the great operas of the 20th Century. It is comprised of four acts and five “Knee Plays” (or intermezzos) and we will be enjoyed the second Knee Play as performed by eighth blackbird. This piece will offer a fascinating follow-up to our presentation of Philip Glass this past October.
For information on all these composers, click the links on their names!
eighth blackbird has won two Grammy Awards and was just nominated for a third for their latest release, Meanwhile. Read about their nomination in the Cinncinnati Enquirer or read the track list and learn about the poetic inspiration for the album on their website. They have also received large grants from foundations like The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to fund long-term residencies and further their craft. The whole music world is investing in eighth blackbird – come see why!
For more information about eighth blackbird and our education and outreach program, feel free to email Wes Andrews at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the KPC office at 425-828-0422. We can't wait for this wonderful concert! See you in the theatre!