eighth blackbird Plays 2-Concert Residency at Texas Performing Arts, 1/28 & 2/4
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by BWW News Desk
On the heels of their 2012 Grammy Award for the recording of Steve Mackey's Lonely Motel: Music from Slide, new music ensemble eighth blackbird returns to Texas Performing Arts for ten days of residency activities, bookended by two completely different concert programs. This sextet combines the finesse of a string quartet with the energy of a rock band, delivering provocative and mind-changing performances.
Since its founding in 1996, eighth blackbird has actively commissioned and recorded new works from such eminent composers as Steve Reich, George Perle, and Frederic Rzewski. Recent commissions include 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. Profiled in The New York Times and NPR's All Things Considered, eighth blackbird has also been featured on CBS' Sunday Morning. The group is in residence at the University of Richmond in Virginia and the University of Chicago.
eighth blackbird is a two-time Grammy-winning ensemble renowned for its classical chops and theatrical abandon. Here it throws caution to the wind with an all-out, over caffeinated, off-kilter jam session. Derek Bermel dives in head-first with his wild Balkan romp, "Tied Shifts." Two wunderkinds vie for attention: Andy Akiho with a full-tilt, groove-based sonic boom; Nico Muhly paying colorful homage to his mentor, Philip Glass. Pulitzer-winnning composer Aaron Kernis's major new work for eighth blackbird shimmers elusively in a gauzy haze, while new arrangements of Ligeti's solo piano "Études" gleefully revel in the ensemble's unhinged virtuosity.
Arnold Schoenberg: Pierrot lunaire Op. 21 (1912)
The sextet end their Austin stay with a program that features a staged cabaret-opera version of Schoenberg's masterpiece Pierrot lunaire, in which the sad, naïve, clown-like character from Commedia dell'Arte takes a darkly comic Journey through a strange world. Directed by choreographer Mark DeChiazza, who also directed Slide, it features soprano Lucy Shelton, dancer Kristin Clotfelter, and percussionist Matthew Duvall in the title role of Pierrot. "Delivered with dreamy rapture" (Chicago Sun-Times), the musicians perform the challenging work entirely from memory, so the players can take important roles in the drama.
Also on the program are pieces that have disparate but interesting links to Schoenberg: cabaret standards by Schoenberg contemporary Kurt Weill and Berthold Brecht.
Campus & Community Engagement Event: Join us for a post-performance talkback in the hall with members of eighth blackbird immediately following both performances.
The concerts will play tonight, January 28 and Monday, February 4, 2013, 8:00 pm. Texas Performing Arts presents eighth blackbird at the McCullough Theatre (2350 Robert Dedman Dr). A map of the campus: texasperformingarts.org/visit/maps_directions.
Photo Credit: Luke Ratray