Described by the New Yorker as "friendly, unpretentious, idealistic, and highly skilled," the new-music sextet eighth blackbird promises _ and delivers _ provocative and engaging performances to its ever-growing audiences. Combining bracing virtuosity with a fresh and alluring sense of irreverence and panache, the sextet debunks the myth that contemporary music is only for a cerebral few.
With a Grammy Award recently tucked under its belt, the ensemble has a menu of offerings this season that includes debuts, premieres and high-class collaborations, including jamming with Wilco's drummer in Chicago; debuts in Australia, England, and Rotterdam; world premieres by Rzewski and Reich in New York's funky Kitchen, alongside the Oberlin Contemporary Music Ensemble; and taking the reigns as Music Director at the Ojai Music Festival.
The group consists of Tim Munro (flutes), Michael J. Maccaferri (clarinets), Matt Albert (violin & viola), Nicholas Photinos (cello), Matthew Duvall (percussion) and Lisa Kaplan (piano).
1. A few works of classical music that you adore:
TIM: Gosh. Current obsessions: Sibelius symphonies and tone poems; Bach cantatas and passions; Mozart operas; Bruckner symphonies
MICHAEL: Mahler Fifth Symphony; Beethoven Sixth Symphony; Rite of Spring
MATT: Shostakovich Fifth Symphony; Mahler Sixth Symphony; Bach Sonata in C Major for solo violin
NICK: Rite of Spring; any Mahler symphony; Mendelssohn chamber music, John Adams A Flowering Tree
MATTHEW: "Goldberg" Variations. It's possible that I adore the piece as a direct result of Glenn Gould's performance on his 1955 recording. See #2.
LISA: Mozart Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major, K. 467; Bartok, Music for Strings, Percussion and Celeste
2. Classical music recordings that you treasure:
TIM: Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Handel Arias. There is no close second.
MICHAEL: Harold Wright and the Boston Chamber Players: Mozart and Brahms quintets
MATT: Emerson Quartet playing Bartok
NICK: Sibelius Second Symphony (Bernard Haitink, Concertgebouw); Emerson Quartet playing Bartok String Quartets; Kronos Caravan; Randall Avers Vistas
MATTHEW: "Goldberg" Variations (Glenn Gould, 1955)
LISA: Barber piano sonata (Vladimir Horowitz); "Goldberg" Variations (Glenn Gould, both early and late recordings)
3. Favorite non-classical musicians and/or recordings:
TIM: Andrew Bird, Beirut, New Pornographers
MICHAEL: Sara Evans, Julie Andrews
MATT: Eddie from Ohio, Looking Out the Fishbowl
NICK: Q-Tip, James Brown, Nelly, Curtis Mayfield, Snoop Dogg, Tribe Called Quest, Missy Elliott, Bill Evans, Ella Fitzgerald, Brad Mehldau, Chick Corea, Luciana Souza, Prince, Red Hot Chili Peppers
MATTHEW: I've thought about this for three days, and it's way too overwhelming a question. Do you have any idea how much music there is out there?
LISA: Elliott Smith, self-titled album; Peter Gabriel, us; Radiohead, KidA; The Beatles, White Album
4. Music that makes you cry _ any genre:
TIM: Mahler and Bruckner slow movements; anything by Beirut or Andrew Bird
MICHAEL: Gustavo Santaolalla: Brokeback Mountain soundtrack
MATT: Gustavo Santaolalla: Brokeback Mountain soundtrack
NICK: Sibelius Second Symphony; Mahler Second Symphony; Mahler Sixth Symphony, some Brazilian tunes
MATTHEW: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Helplessly Hoping
LISA: Peter Gabriel, The washing of the water; The Beatles, Blackbird
5. Definitely underrated work(s) or composer (s):
TIM: Any and all new classical music.
MATT: Stephen Hartke
NICK: Schoenberg (esp. Pierrot Lunaire), Mendelssohn, Aaron Kernis, Stephen Hartke
MATTHEW: Stephen Hartke
LISA: Almost all living composers are underrated.
6. Possibly overrated work(s) or composer (s):
TIM: Rimsky-Korsakov, Sheherazade
MICHAEL: Schumann. Definitely Schumann.
NICK: Orff, Grofe, Schumann
MATTHEW: Beethoven Ninth Symphony (a remarkable work of genius, but shouldn't be heard EVERY holiday season...c'mon already!)
LISA: Mussorgsky, Pictures at an Exhibition (orch. Ravel)
7. Live music performance (s) you attended _ any genre _ that you'll never forget:
TIM: Philip Glass Satyagraha at the Met, 2008. I cried like a baby.
MICHAEL: I have forgotten.
MATT: Minnesota Orchestra, Sibelius Sixth Symphony, June 2008
NICK: Andor Toth Sr. (violin) and Andor Toth Jr. (cello) in a duo recital at Oberlin, OH, in the mid-1990s
MATTHEW: Ella Fitzgerald in an outdoor amphitheater. It started raining, so she improvised a transition into "Singing in the Rain" and her combo followed her lead; then it rained harder. It was pure magic.
LISA: Bob Dylan in the tiny main piazza in Lucca, Italy, July 1998; Bob Spano conducting the Oberlin Chamber Orchestra in Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, October 1992
8. A few relatively recent films you love:
TIM: No Country for Old Men; Man on Wire; Persepolis
MICHAEL: "Films"? I watch "movies." I LOVE sci-fi: The Matrix (only the first one); 2001: A Space Odyssey
MATT: Brokeback Mountain; Wall-E; Michael Clayton
NICK: Persepolis; Letters from Iwo Jima; Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay
MATTHEW: From the Earth to the Moon (produced by Tom Hanks). In our current political climate, it's nice to be reminded that it's possible for a government to accomplish something truly remarkable.
LISA: No Country for Old Men; Ne le dit a personne; The Lives of Others; Talk to Her
9. A few films you consider classics:
TIM: The Cook, the Thief, his Wife and her Lover; Psycho; Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf
MICHAEL: 2001: A Space Odyssey
MATT: Babe; The American President; Aliens
MATTHEW: Almost Famous (too recent to be a classic?); Raiders of the Lost Ark
LISA: To Kill A Mockingbird; Ferris Bueller's Day Off
10. A few books that are important to you (and why):
TIM: Galapogus, Kurt Vonnegut (it works like my mind does); Radical Chic, Tom Wolfe (journalism gone wild)
MICHAEL: The Singularity is Near, Ray Kurzweil (It's terrifying and exciting. Kurzweil has been a fairly accurate predictor of the future of humans and technology which fascinates me.)
MATT: Consider the Lobster (loved the McCain and 9/11 essays); The Time Traveler's Wife (identified with the characters so deeply)
NICK: Jitterbug Perfume (Tom Robbins' use of language convinced me in my teens that a book could be funny, titillating, and masterful all at the same time); Lolita (also for the language. Arguably the best novel in English, and written by a guy for whom it was his second language. Unbelievable.)
MATTHEW: When I Grow Up I Want To Be Me, Sandra Magsamen (read this to your daughter and you'll understand)
LISA: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Jonathan Safran Foer; Upon the Head of a Goat, Aranka Siegel; The History of Love, Nicole Krauss
11. Thing(s) about yourself that you're most proud of:
TIM: My curiosity and my job
MICHAEL: I own my own home and don't own a car.
NICK: My marriage and my career
MATTHEW: My kids
LISA: my chutzpah; my forthrightness
12. Thing(s) about yourself that you're embarrassed by:
TIM: The fact that I am very disorganized.
MICHAEL: I don't read for pleasure.
MATT: Tendency to obsess, inability to dance
NICK: My indecisiveness, my occasional shyness and/or mousyness, and that I don't have as much energy as I'd like
MATTHEW: I turn up the volume when I hear a song by Avril Lavigne.
LISA: Hmmmmm_ã_there's not much that embarrasses me_ã_
13. Three things you can't live without:
TIM: Bach, love, NPR
MICHAEL: My computer, beer, ear plugs.
MATT: schedules, ice cream, Spore
NICK: My wife, my career, and beer
MATTHEW: [Earnest:] My wife (yes, I realize that's only one thing); [Funny, but true:] My truck, sleeping pills, meat.
LISA: My family; music; good food
14. "When I want to get away from it all I_ã_"
TIM: _ã_grab my iPod and go for a long jog.
MICHAEL: _ã_lock the door and play World of Warcraft and/or watch HGTV.
MATT: _ã_play video games.
NICK: _ã_take a trip with my wife, to Thailand, Japan, Puerto Rico, or anywhere that isn't the US.
MATTHEW: _ã_don't check email.
LISA: _ã_shut off my cell phone, stop wearing my watch and go immerse myself in nature.
15. "People are surprised to find out that I_ã_"
TIM: _ã_watched two whole seasons of The Bachelor
MICHAEL: ...like camping.
MATT: _ã_play video games
NICK: _ã_am actually LESS messy than my wife
MATTHEW: _ã_ever check email
LISA: _ã_have climbed to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro.
16. "My favorite cities are_ã_"
TIM: _ã_Melbourne, New York, London, Chicago.
MICHAEL: _ã_Chicago, Portland, Vancouver.
MATT: _ã_New York, San Francisco, Chicago.
NICK: _ã_Madrid, Florence, Paris, Amsterdam, Seattle, Chicago, sometimes New York.
MATTHEW: _ã_Passage Key, FL (its not so much a city as it is a secret...)
LISA: Florence, Italy; New York, NY.
17. "I have a secret crush on_ã_"
TIM: _ã_Juliane Banse, soprano.
MICHAEL: _ã_a New York-based double reed player. Shh, don't tell him.
MATT: _ã_Rene Russo.
NICK: _ã_Padma Lakshmi, the host of "Top Chef" on Bravo.
MATTHEW: _ã_Anne Boleyn, as portrayed by Natalie Dormer in "The Tudors." (This is really much more about my passion for historical fiction than it is about Ms. Dormer. No, really, I'm serious...)
LISA: _ã_an old fling from high school.
18. "My most obvious guilty pleasure is_ã_"
TIM: _ã_buying CDs. Lots of CDs.
MICHAEL: _ã_World of Warcraft
MATT: _ã_mint chip ice cream.
NICK: _ã_watching "The World Series of Poker" on ESPN
MATTHEW: _ã_Rice Krispie Squares.
LISA: _ã_a lovely pedicure.
19. "I'd really love to meet_ã_"
TIM: _ã_Ron Elving and Ken Rudin.
MICHAEL: _ã_Ian McCartt.
MATT: _ã_Roger Federer.
NICK: _ã_Gautama Buddha, Jesus, Gustav Mahler, Salman Rushdie, Tom Robbins.
MATTHEW: _ã_Lynn Davis.
LISA: _ã_Rafael Nadal.
20. "I never understood why_ã_"
TIM: _ã_classical music became "old people music."
MICHAEL: _ã_things that taste so good need to be so bad for you.
MATT: _ã_people say they're going to do things and then don't.
NICK: _ã_people voted for George Bush, especially the second time.
MATTHEW: _ã_it's possible to arrive somewhere before you departed when traveling internationally. Time zones are not rational. Just thinking about it makes my brain hurt.
LISA: _ã_any half-way intelligent person could ever believe in Creationism.
eighth blackbird Upcoming Engagements
Jan. 30 at 8 PM- Tallahassee, FL (Florida State University)
"The Only Moving Thing"
Feb. 7 at 8 PM- Kennesaw, GA (Kennesaw State University)
"The Only Moving Thing"
Feb. 10-13- Laramie, WY (University of Wyoming)
Feb. 19 at 7:30 PM- Chicago, IL (Harris Theater)
eighth blackbird with The Hilliard Ensemble
Feb. 23-March 1- Richmond, VA (Modlin Center for the Arts at the University of Richmond)
Richmond Residency (Week 4)
March 25 at 7:30 PM- Richmond, VA (Modlin Center for the Arts at the University of Richmond)
eighth blackbird with Glenn Kotche of Wilco
March 27 at 8 PM- Berlin (Theatre Haus der Berliner Festspiele)
"The Only Moving Thing"
For more information and full tour schedule, visit www.eighthblackbird.com
Past installments of 20 (PLUS) QUESTIONS:
Albert Imperato, a music promoter who co-founded 21C Media Group in January 2000, writes frequently about the arts for various publications and blogs.
His new series, 20 (PLUS) QUESTIONS, is his take on (and nod to) Vanity Fair's "Proust Questionnaire."