Ensemble-in-Residence: Eighth Blackbird
eighth blackbird is in the midst of a three year residency at Curtis funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Active members of the Curtis community, the sextet collaborates, coaches and performs with students throughout the year.
The ensemble eighth blackbird is the ideal partner for Curtis. The group performs in non-traditional venues, champions new technologies, and attracts fans of all ages to its performances. Over fifteen seasons, the ensemble has steadily built and broadened its audience. This success is the direct result of eighth blackbird's compelling performances, sincere conviction that concertgoers can be similarly moved, and culture of entrepreneurship. Members are involved in every aspect of the group's management, including artistic planning, community engagement, grant writing, tour management, and accounting.
Recent commissions include Steve Reich's Double Sextet, Jennifer Higdon's On a Wire, and Steve Mackey's Slide, and future collaborators include Amy Beth Kirsten, Brett Dean, Aaron Jay Kernis, John Luther Adams, and Mayke Nas. eighth blackbird holds ongoing ensemble-in-residence positions at the University of Richmond and University of Chicago and has led short-term residencies at the Colburn School, University of Michigan, Oberlin College, Southern Methodist University, and Rice University. A fruitful relationship with Chicago's Cedille Records has produced four acclaimed recordings, including strange imaginary animals (2006), winner of two Grammy Awards. eighth blackbird's, Lonely Motel: Music from Slide, won the 2011 Grammy for Best Small Ensemble Performance and was nominated in three other categories. Their latest Cedille recording, meanwhile, also won the 2013 Grammy for Best Chamber Music/ Small Ensemble Performance. The name "eighth blackbird" derives from the eighth stanza of Wallace Stevens's evocative, aphoristic poem, Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird (1917).
"A multi-year residency at the Curtis Institute of Music is both a great honor and a huge responsibility," said eighth blackbird's Tim Munro. "We aim to fill Curtis's hallowed halls with eighth blackbird's unique blend of musical curiosity, intelligence, flexibility, theatricality, entrepreneurial spirit, and humor. With any luck we will start and stoke a few artistic fires along the way."
eighth blackbird is an active part of the Curtis community, visiting for four weeks each year beginning in the 2012-13 school year and working closely with David Ludwig, Gie and Lisa Liem Artistic Chair of Performance Studies and artistic director of Curtis 20/21. The residency builds on Curtis's "learn by doing" philosophy and its focus on inventing careers for the 21st century. With these principles and Curtis's strong programs in contemporary music and community engagement as the basis, eighth blackbird encourages Curtis students to be inventive and entrepreneurial about their own careers and to connect more deeply with audiences and their community.
Recent coverage of Curtis residency
Overtones, Spring 2013
Birds of a Feather
In its groundbreaking three-year residency at Curtis, the leading new-music ensemble eighth blackbird is providing a model for students to follow.
After Cage, a new type of silence
Review of December 2012 residency recital with Curtis 20/21 and Matthias Pintscher
Overtones, Fall 2012
Curtis's forward-looking vision for contemporary music has deep roots.
- collaboration and side-by-side performances with the Curtis 20/21 ensemble
- chamber music coachings
- readings of works by composition students
- seminars with student conductors
- leadership and career development discussions
- community engagement mentoring
- world premieres of new works by annual composer-in-residence
- involvement in artistic planning of the annual All-School Project
Dates for the 2013-14 school year to be announced in the summer.
Listen to eighth blackbird perform Curtis faculty member David Ludwig's Haiku Catharsis on Instant Encore.