|Genres||New music / Contemporary classical|
Tim Munro, flutes
Molly Barth, flutesMatt Albert, violin & viola
eighth blackbird is a contemporary music sextet based in Chicago. The group derives its name from the eighth stanza of Wallace Stevens' poem Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird. The name is deliberately spelled in lower case.
The members of eighth blackbird hold degrees in music performance from Oberlin Conservatory, the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, the Juilliard School, Northwestern University, and the Curtis Institute of Music. Current players in the group include Yvonne Lam, violin/viola; Nicholas Photinos, cello; Tim Munro, flutes; Michael Maccaferri, clarinets; Lisa Kaplan, piano; and Matthew Duvall, percussion. Four of the group's six members are founding members; Munro replaced the ensemble's original flautist, Molly Barth, in 2006, and Lam replaced violinist and violist Matt Albert in 2011.
eighth blackbird holds Ensemble-in-Residence positions at the University of Richmond in Richmond, Virginia (since 2003) and The University of Chicago (since 2000). Additionally, the group has led short-term residencies at the Curtis Institute, Colburn School, University of Michigan, Oberlin College, Southern Methodist University, and Rice University. In the fall of 2012 the group will begin a three year residency at the Curtis Institute of Music. An ongoing relationship with Chicago's Cedille Records has produced five recordings, including strange imaginary animals (2006), winner of two 2008 Grammy Awards, including the award for Best Chamber Music Performance. eighth blackbird's most recent CD, which was released in September 2011, is entitled Lonely Motel: Music from Slide, and features excerpts from the 2009 music and theater work Slide, a collaboration between eighth blackbird, composer Steve Mackey, and singer, actor, and librettist Rinde Eckert.
Since its founding in 1996, eighth blackbird has been active in commissioning new works from composers such as Steve Reich, George Perle, Frederic Rzewski, Joseph Schwantner, Paul Moravec, and Stephen Hartke, as well as works from Jennifer Higdon, Derek Bermel, Nico Muhly, Daniel Kellogg, Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez, and the Minimum Security Composers Collective. The group received the first BMI/Boudleaux-Bryant Fund Commission and the 2007 American Music Center Trailblazer Award and has received grants from BMI, Meet the Composer, the Greenwall Foundation, and Chamber Music America.
In June 2009, eighth blackbird served as Music Director of the Ojai Music Festival in Southern California. In February 2011, eighth blackbird curated the Tune-In Music Festival at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City. The group devised a program which centered around Igor Stravinsky's controversial statement that music was, "essentially powerless to express anything at all," and culminated in the indoor premier of John Luther Adams' monumental percussion work Inuksuit.  Demonstrating its flair for combining musical and theatrical elements in its performances, eighth blackbird has also created an original cabaret-opera style staging of Arnold Schoenberg's seminal work Pierrot Lunaire, which the group performs entirely from memory.