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MCA Talk
eighth blackbird

Wed, Sep 10, 2014, 6–8 pm


eighth blackbird performing Amy Beth Kirsten’s Colombine’s Paradise Theatre
Photo: Sylvianne Shurman

Copresented with the Italian Cultural Institute of Chicago

Commedia dell’arte star Isabella Andreini dazzled 17th-century audiences, performing in her own plays, which have often called on Andreini to feign madness and adopt her celebrated hermaphroditic persona to play all the parts, male and female. Her spirit echoes in the genre-defying theatrical adventure by composer/librettist Amy Beth Kirsten in Colombine’s Paradise Theatre. Grammy-winning sextet eighth blackbird commissioned Kirsten and collaborate on her brilliant new commedia for our time, which blends the tuneful features of Renaissance music with modern musical experimentation, intensified by the use of masks, costumes, and lighting design.

Join us for this spirited talk with the eighth blackbird musicians and composer Amy Beth Kirsten about the creation of Colombine’s Paradise Theatre and its relationship to Italy’s rich history of art and culture. Illuminating the connections, the artists are joined for the talk at the Italian Cultural Institute by the University of Chicago’s Robert L. Kendrick, award-winning Professor of Music, and Natalie Crohn Schmitt, Professor Emerita, Theatre and English at the University of Illinois Chicago.

About the Artists

Amy Beth Kirsten is a recipient of the 2011 Guggenheim Fellowship in Music Composition. Her works aim to integrate music, language, and movement in theatrical settings and have been engaged by leading venues such the Miller Theatre in New York, for Colombine’s Paradise Theatre, and Carnegie Hall, for strange pilgrims, commissioned by the American Composers Orchestra for string orchestra, chorus, and film.

Natalie Crohn Schmitt has more than 40 refereed articles and book chapters published on a range of topics in theater theory, from Aristotle to John Cage, and in theater criticism, from medieval drama to contemporary experimental theatre.

Robert L. Kendrick works largely in early modern music and culture, with additional interests in Latin American music, historical anthropology, and the visual arts, and is author of The Sound of Milan, 1580–1650 (2002) and Celestial Sirens (1996). In addition to faculty positions with the Departments of Music and of Romance Languages and Literatures, he is a member of Milan’s Accademia Ambrosiana, and one of the coeditors of the forthcoming collected works of Alessandro Grandi, the great northern Italian composer of the early Baroque era.


Supported by the Italian Cultural Institute of Chicago
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