eighth blackbird

photo by Luke Ratray

photo by Luke Ratray

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 combines the finesse of a string quartet, the energy of a rock band and the audacity of a storefront theater company. The Chicago-based, three-time Grammy-winning “super-musicians” (LA Times) entertain and provoke audiences across the country and around the world.

Colombine’s Paradise Theatre is eighth blackbird’s new staged, memorized production. Composer Amy Beth Kirsten challenges the sextet to play, speak, sing, whisper, growl and mime, breathing life into this tale of dream and delusion. Performances have taken place at the University of Richmond, as well as DC’s Atlas Arts, and it has been called a “Tour de Force” by the Washington Post.

The 2013/14 season’s acoustic program, Still in Motion, features new works by The National’s Bryce Dessner (the folk-inspired Murder Ballades), Steve Mackey (music from his Grammy-winning Slide) and Australian composer Brett Dean (the searing Old Kings in Exile). eighth blackbird brings this show to Ohio, Missouri, Idaho, Oregon, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New York and California.

Other highlights include debuts with the Cincinnati Symphony (where the ensemble is an Artist in Residence) and New World Symphony; residencies at UCLA, SUNY Purchase, Baylor and Duke; a collaboration with Oberlin College’s CME; and a debut on the Lincoln Center’s Atrium series.

eighth blackbird holds ongoing Ensemble in Residence positions at the Curtis Institute of Music, University of Richmond, and University of Chicago. A decade-long relationship with Chicago’s Cedille Records has produced six acclaimed recordings. The ensemble has won three Grammy Awards, for the recordings strange imaginary animals, Lonely Motel: Music from Slide and Meanwhile.

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). 

Albums