eighth blackbird \ˈātth ˈblak-ˌbərd\ slang (orig. and chiefly U.S.).
1. verb. to act with commitment and virtuosity; to zap, zip, sock.
2. adjective. having fearless (yet irreverent) qualities.
3. noun. a flock of songbirds, common in urban areas since 1996.
eighth blackbird lives dangerously. The Chicago-based, two-time GRAMMY Award-winning sextet combines the finesse of a string quartet with the energy of a rock band and the audacity of a storefront theater company. Its musical aerobatics delight, provoke and entertain audiences around the world.
The lure of wet ink draws eighth blackbird into collaborations with a motley crew of composers, young and old, modernist and indie. 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.
During the 2011/12 season eighth blackbird tours Australia twice, making debuts at the Sydney Opera House and the Brisbane Festival, and with the symphony orchestras of Melbourne and Tasmania. The ensemble plays in New York (SONiC festival), Kansas City, Ithaca and Mexico City. Schoenberg's Pierrot lunaire is presented at the Kennedy Center and the McAninch Arts Center. Chicago performances include a Reich-fest in Millennium Park, Composition Competition finals, a premiere by Nico Muhly, and a mini-festival at the Museum of Contemporary Art.
eighth blackbird holds ongoing Ensemble in Residence positions at the University of Richmond and the University of Chicago, and will commence a three-year, Mellon Foundation-funded term as Ensemble in Residence at the Curtis Institute of Music in Fall 2012. A fruitful, ongoing relationship with Chicago's Cedille Records has produced four acclaimed recordings. The ensemble has won two Grammy Awards, for strange imaginary animals (Best Chamber Music Performance, 2008) and Lonely Motel: Music from Slide (Best Small Ensemble Performance, 2012).
eighth blackbird's members hail from America's Great Lakes, Keystone, Golden and Bay states, and Australia's Sunshine State. There are four foodies, three beer snobs and one exercise junkie. The name "eighth blackbird" derives from the eighth stanza of Wallace Stevens's evocative, aphoristic poem, "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird" (1917).
+ Matthew Duvall endorses Pearl/Adams musical instruments, and Vic Firth sticks and mallets.
* Michael J. Maccaferri is a Rico Performing Artist and Clinician