Hailed as “friendly, unpretentious, idealistic, and highly skilled” by the New Yorker, eighth blackbird is widely lauded for its unusual performing style – often playing from memory with theatrical flair – and for its efforts to make new music accessible to wider audiences.
Since its founding in 1996, the sextet has actively commissioned and recorded new works; recent commissions include a concerto from Jennifer Higdon and pieces from Steve Reich, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Steven Mackey, David Lang, Stephen Hartke, and Bruno Mantovani. The group’s CD strange imaginary animals won two Grammy Awards in 2008, including one for Best Chamber Music Performance.
Highlights of past seasons have included performances in South Korea, Mexico, the UK, the Netherlands, Poland, and at nearly every major chamber music venue in North America. eighth blackbird was honored in 2007 with the American Music Center’s Trailblazer Award and a Meet The Composer Award, and the group’s numerous competition wins include the Grand Prize at the Concert Artists Guild International Competition and the Naumburg Chamber Music Award.
The sextet has been profiled in the New York Times and featured on CBS News Sunday Morning and Bloomberg TV’s Muse. eighth blackbird has recorded for the Cedille and Naxos labels, and is represented by Opus 3 Artists.
Steve Reich has graciously allowed me to share a few emails from his correspondence with eighth blackbird during the composition and preparation of his Pulitzer Prize-winning 2008 work Double Sextet. I hope these shed a little light on his creative process. You can also read an interview I did with Steve here.