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eighth blackbird
Still In Motion

Mar 8–9, 2014

The blackbirds are examples of a new breed of super-musicians.
—Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times

Stage animals as well as outstanding chamber players, eighth blackbird perform with a freedom almost unheard of in their technically demanding repertoire.
The Sunday Telegraph

eighth blackbird combines the virtuosity of a string quartet with the energy of a storefront theater company. This three-time Grammy-winning “superensemble” brings a very special program to the MCA, full to the brim with rambunctious characters, strange locales and wicked grins. If Tom Johnson’s Counting Duets is Sesame Street on acid, then new arrangements of Ligeti’s Études are Chopin Gone Wild. Steve Mackey provides a moving portrait of loneliness and delusion in his Grammy-winning Slide, while Australian composer Brett Dean fills Old Kings in Exile with hallucinatory dreams and threatening night-terrors. Last Exit, by eighth blackbird flutist Tim Munro, evokes the dark shadows of his hometown of Brisbane, Australia, and Gabriella Smith is an original, talented and compelling new voice in American composition.

eighth blackbird and MCA Chicago are presenting the program Still in Motion rather than the previously announced Heart and Breath (including Colombine’s Paradise Theatre). Due to a knee injury of an ensemble member and the theatrical demands of Colombine’s Paradise Theatre, that program is replaced and may be presented in a future season.


Steve Mackey: Suite: Slide (2012) CHICAGO PREMIERE
Richard Parry: Duo for Heart and Breath (2011)
Brett Dean: Sextet: Old Kings in Exile (2010)


Gabriella Smith: Number Nine (2013) CHICAGO PREMIERE
Tim Munro: Last Exit (2013)
Tom Johnson: Counting Duets (1982)
György Ligeti: Études arr. sextet (1985-2001) CHICAGO PREMIERE

About the Artists

Chicago-based eighth blackbird captured their third Grammy Award in 2013 for Meanwhile (Cedille Records) in the chamber music category. The ensemble’s two earlier Grammy Awards are for strange imaginary animals (Best Chamber Music Performance, 2006) and Lonely Motel: Music from Slide (Best Small Ensemble Performance, 2012). 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, and has commissioned groundbreaking works from a younger generation (Jennifer Higdon, Stephen Hartke, Derek Bermel, David Schober, Daniel Kellogg, and Carlos Sánchez-Gutiérrez). Steve Reich’s off-kilter jam session Double Sextet won the Pulitzer Prize for Music, and the MCA joined eighth blackbird in commissioning Murder Ballades by Bryce Dessner of The National. eighth blackbird has performed across the world from Carnegie Hall to London’s Barbican Centre. The sextet has performed Jennifer Higdon’s concerto On a Wire (an eighth blackbird commission) with major symphony orchestras that include Cleveland, Atlanta, and Toronto.

Learn more about eighth blackbird.

Matthew Duvall, percussion; Lisa Kaplan, piano; Yvonne Lam, violin & viola; Michael J. Maccaferri, clarinets; Tim Munro, flutes; and Nicholas Photinos, cello. For the Still in Motion concerts at MCA Stage, Matthew Duvall is replaced by Doug Perkins.

Artists Up Close

First Night Post-Show Talk
Sat, Mar 8

Peter Taub, Director of Performance Programs, leads a discussion with the artists and audience immediately following the performance.


Program Notes


Support for eighth blackbird: Still In Motion is provided in part by The Amphion Foundation.