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Adventurous New Music Breaking Out All Over the Place
by Jerome Weeks 7 Oct 2010

The innovative music ensemble, eighth blackbird, finally lands in Dallas as part of its residency for SMU’s Meadows Prize, and the Nasher Sculpture Center will now be hosting a ‘new music’ series, and it’s starting in November — with the Juilliard String Quartet. We’re going to be a happenin’ place, classic-musically speaking.


The Grammy-winning ensemble, eighth blackbird (above) was the first recipient of SMU’s Meadows Prize (along with Creative Time) — and the group is finally landing in Dallas. Part of the $25,000 Meadows Prize (one of the more exciting and interesting requirements) is a one-to-three-month residency here — leading to interactions with local artists and a ‘lasting legacy.’

eighth blackbird was the group that commissioned composer Steve Reich’s Double Sextet, which finally won the Pulitzer Prize for the minimalist master last year. eighth blackbird will be at SMU for its first weeklong residence, Oct. 17-23, and will participate in some 20 different events, including four that are free and open to the public, including a rehearsal and public concert. The music collective will return in November and then in February.

The full release can be found below the fold.

But wait! There’s more!

In November, the Nasher Sculpture Center will inaugurate a ‘new music’ series, Soundings: New Music at the Nasher, which hopes to “test the very boundaries of the art form.” And it’s starting pretty much at the top of that art form — with the Juilliard String Quartet (above).

Seth Knopp, a founding member of the Peabody Trio and artistic director of Yellow Barn Music School and Festival, is partnering with the Nasher to curate Soundings, and the series will launch with two days of performances, Nov. 12-13, featuring Music from Yellow Barn, A Far Cry — the conductor-less chamber orchestra — and the Juilliard String Quartet.

Oh, yeah. You should also take a look at what the series has planned for early next year: George Crumb, the Kafka Fragments, the Brentano String Quartet.

And that full release is also just down here, right after the blackbird folks.


Grammy-winning sextet will present free public concert, other events during first weeklong residency, Oct. 17-23

DALLAS (SMU) – In March 2010, SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts announced the first two recipients of the inaugural 2009-2010 Meadows Prize, a new international arts residency: the Grammy-winning new music ensemble eighth blackbird and the New York-based public arts organization Creative Time.  The prize includes housing for a one-to-three-month residency in Dallas, transportation expenses, studio/office space and project costs, in addition to a $25,000 stipend. In return, recipients are expected to interact in a substantive way with Meadows students and collaborating arts organizations, and to leave a lasting legacy in Dallas.

After months of planning, eighth blackbird comes to Dallas for its first weeklong residency October 17-23, 2010. The group will participate in 20 different events at SMU during the week, including four events that are free and open to the public: an open rehearsal, a reading workshop of student compositions, an open panel discussion, and a public concert. The sextet will return to the SMU campus in November 2010 and February 2011.

“The first set of the new Meadows Prizes went to two extraordinary collectives, Creative Time and eighth blackbird, both of whom specialize in making the seemingly impossible possible,” said José Bowen, dean of the Meadows School. “eighth blackbird has found a way to make difficult contemporary classic music exciting, entertaining, approachable and profitable.  Those are skills our students need.  I am most happy that this residency will bring to our students not only cutting-edge music, but forward-thinking ways of presenting music and making a living in the modern musical world.”

The October events are as follows:

Student Composers Reading Session

What:   In this unscripted session, eighth blackbird will read, perform, and discuss new works by music composition students in the Meadows School of the Arts.

When:  Wednesday, October 20, 12-2 p.m.

Where:   O’Donnell Hall, Room 2130, Owen Arts Center, 6101 Bishop Blvd. on the SMU campus

Cost:   FREE
Info:    Call 214-768-1951

Open Rehearsal with eighth blackbird

What:   Members of eighth blackbird will lead auditors through a public rehearsal of the ensemble’s current repertoire. Questions from the audience will be addressed during the rehearsal.

When:   Wednesday, October 20, 7-9 p.m.

Where:  Caruth Auditorium, Owen Arts Center, 6101 Bishop Blvd. on the SMU campus

Cost:   FREE

Info:   Call 214-768-1951

eighth blackbird Speaks Out

What:  Members of eighth blackbird will discuss various topics, including the business aspects of running a chamber music ensemble, the history of the group, how the ensemble finds and rehearses repertoire, and more.

Questions and participation from the audience welcomed.

When:   Friday, October 22, 12-2 p.m.

Where:   O’Donnell Hall, Room 2130, Owen Arts Center, 6101 Bishop Blvd. on the SMU campus

Cost:   FREE
Info:   Call 214-768-1951

eighth blackbird In Concert

What:    An extraordinary and engaging program will include Still Life with Avalanche by Missy Mazzoli, Catch by Thomas Ades, Stephen Hartke’s Meanwhile, and Steve Reich’s Pulitzer-prize winning Double Sextet, written on a commission from eighth blackbird. Outstanding students from the Division of Music will join eighth blackbird in both the Mazzoli and Reich.

When:   Saturday, October 23, 8 p.m.

Where:   Caruth Auditorium, Owen Arts Center, 6101 Bishop Blvd. on the SMU campus

Cost:   FREE
Info:    Call 214-768-1951

The Chicago-based eighth blackbird is one of the most musically accomplished and innovative ensembles in the world.  They are equally at home playing viola and flute, or kazoos and reverberating gongs, or opening a piano and playing on the strings and frame with toothpicks, credit cards and dish brushes. The group performs from memory and often incorporates theatrical elements into its shows. Their mission is to create high quality new music experiences that are unique, entertaining, and relevant to all audiences. “It’s new music you can bring home to your mother,” observed the Washington Post. The members of the group include Matthew Albert, violin/viola; Nicholas Photinos, cello; Tim Munro, flutes; Michael Maccaferri, clarinets; Lisa Kaplan, piano; and Matthew Duvall, percussion.

eighth blackbird has commissioned new works from George Perle, Frederic Rzewski, Joseph Schwantner, Stephen Hartke, and the Minimum Security Composers Collective, among many others. The group received the first BMI/Boudleaux-Bryant Fund Commission and the 2007 American Music Center Trailblazer Award and has received grants from BMI, Meet the Composer, the Greenwall Foundation, and Chamber Music America. Their CD strange imaginary animals won the 2008 Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance. In its review of the CD, BBC Music Magazine wrote, “eighth blackbird play like musicians possessed; excited by the new, determined that their CD audiences will be too, they take wing, soaring on an upthrust of precision-tooled virtuosity.”

eighth blackbird formed in 1996 when its members were students at Oberlin Conservatory of Music. Now celebrating its 15th season, the group showcases music by the two most recent Pulitzer Prize-winning composers in its 2010-11 recording and performing repertoire, programming new and recent works (written expressly for the ensemble) by both Jennifer Higdon and Steve Reich. Highlights of the current season include a return to Zankel Hall; performances at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, representing the fourth year of the ensemble’s hometown series; a tour of Higdon’s new concerto On a Wire with several high-profile orchestras; Reich festivals on both sides of the Atlantic – at Carnegie Hall and London’s Barbican Hall; a return to the Library of Congress for a concert that includes the world premiere of a new work by Stephen Hartke; and two new CDs – featuring, respectively, Reich’s prize-winning Double Sextet (on Nonesuch) and Steven Mackey and Rinde Eckert’s music-theater piece Slide (on Cedille). Headlining the group’s season is its new politically-driven two-part program “Powerful/less,” tackling Stravinsky’s provocative statement questioning the value, meaning and power of art.

eighth blackbird takes its name from Wallace Stevens’ poem “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird,” in which the eighth stanza reads:

I know noble accents

And lucid, inescapable rhythms;

But I know, too,

That the blackbird is involved

In what I know.


Innovative Music Series Premieres November 12 & 13 with the Juilliard String Quartet, A Far Cry, and Music from Yellow Barn

DALLAS, Texas (October 4, 2010) – The Nasher Sculpture Center is pleased to introduce Soundings: New Music at the Nasher, an innovative, new music series, which explores the definition of music and tests the very boundaries of the art form. Created in partnership with Seth Knopp, a founding member of the Peabody Trio and artistic director of Yellow Barn Music School and Festival, Soundings presents six groundbreaking concerts showcasing both today’s music and that of the great composers of the past, performed by nationally and internationally renowned musicians amid the art-filled spaces of the Nasher Sculpture Center.

“The Soundings series is actively curated much as we would create an exhibition,” said Jeremy “With the Soundings series, we initiate a conversation between sculpture and music,” said Jeremy Strick, Director of the Nasher Sculpture Center, “as well as a dialogue between the most advanced contemporary musical forms and their historical antecedents. In effect, Seth Knopp has curated this series, much as we would curate an exhibition or a presentation of the Nasher Collection: juxtaposing and weaving together disparate musical themes and forms, highlighting individual works, while creating a comprehensive experience that resonates with and references the art and architecture of the Sculpture Center.”

The 2010-2011 inaugural season of Soundings: New Music at the Nasher launches with two days of exciting performances at the Nasher Sculpture Center on Friday, November 12 and Saturday, November 13 featuring Music from Yellow Barn, A Far Cry, and the Juilliard String Quartet, a group widely recognized as the quintessential American string quartet and the most widely recorded string quartets of our time.

Seating is limited and tickets are required for performances. Tickets for the Friday, November 12 program are $20 for Members ($25 for Non-Members) and include a lecture with Seth Knopp and the Juilliard String Quartet, the evening concert, and champagne reception. The two concerts on Saturday, November 13 are free with admission ($10 for adults, $7 for seniors, $5 for students), free with Friday night concert tickets and RSVP, and free for members.

“It is my great pleasure to be working with the director of the Nasher Sculpture Center, Jeremy Strick, and its wonderful staff in making preparations to launch the series Soundings: New Music at the Nasher,” said Seth Knopp, Artistic Director of Soundings.  “In calling itself a ‘center’ and not a ‘museum’ the Nasher reflects its commitment to preserving art and its tradition in the most exciting way possible; by presenting works that show those traditions to be ever evolving through the artists that build upon them.”

SOUNDINGS 2-DAY INAUGURAL CONCERTS November 12 and 13, 2010 Featuring the Juilliard String Quartet, A Far Cry, and Music from Yellow Barn Programs: Friday, November 12 7:30 pm Concert King George III found in music a refuge for his mental illness while Beethoven offered this miraculous string quartet in thanks for his own return to physical health. The Nasher’s Soundings seriesopens with this exploration of the role music plays as one of our most personal forms of expression in a program featuring one of Georg Frederic Händel’s Concerto Grossi, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’ Eight Songs for a Mad King, a chamber music tour de force vividly depicting the tragic insanity of King George III, and Ludwig van Beethoven’s String Quartet opus 132.   Tickets: Seating is limited. $20 for Members ($25 for Non-Members). Tickets may be used for Saturday concerts with RSVP at 214.242.5151.

Saturday, November 13 11:30 am Concert For centuries the soul of a nation, expressed through its folk melodies and traditional dances, has inspired composers of every generation and from every corner of the world. From the gypsy influences found in Bela Bartók’s Divertimento for string orchestra, the Latin jazz flavors of NanáVasconcelos’ Berimbau and Alejandro Viñao’s tumblers for violin, marimba and electronics, to the “sing-song call” of the Texas panhandle auctioneer in Alexis Bacon’s Cowboy Song, this rich diversity continues to connect a people with a common past.

2:30 pm Concert The final concert presented in celebration of the opening of the Nasher’s Soundings series opens with the sound of 100 metronomes creating their mesmerizing chance rhythms in György Ligeti’s Poème Symphonique, evolving seamlessly into the organized rhythms of Roberto Sierra’s Bongo-O before finding melody in Donald Martino’s Canzone e Tarantella sul nome Petrassi for clarinet and cello. In the second half, we enter the strange and visionary harmonic world of the late Renaissance composer Don Carlo Gesualdo with performances of his madrigals adapted for string orchestra and then hear composer Brett Dean’s haunting musical depiction of his tragic crime in passion, the murder of his wife and her lover, in his haunting Carlo. Tickets: Seating is limited. Free with admission ($10 for adults, $7 for seniors, $5 for students), free with Friday night concert tickets and RSVP, and free for members.   Tickets and Information: www.NasherSculptureCenter.org/Soundings
Featured Musicians Juilliard String Quartet The Juilliard String Quartet is internationally renowned and admired for performances characterized by a clarity of structure, beauty of sound, purity of line and an extraordinary unanimity of purpose. Celebrated for its performances of works by composers as diverse as Beethoven, Schubert, Bartók and Elliott Carter, it has long been recognized as the quintessential American string quartet.   In its history, the Juilliard String Quartet has performed a comprehensive repertoire of some 500 works, ranging from the great classical composers to masters of the current century. It was the first ensemble to play all six Bartók quartets in the United States, and it was through the group’s performances that the quartets of Arnold Schoenberg were rescued from obscurity. An ardent champion of contemporary American music, the Quartet has premiered more than 60 compositions of American composers, including works by some of America’s finest jazz musicians.   The ensemble has been associated with Sony Classical, in its various incarnations, since 1949.

This season saw the digital release of classic JSQ recordings on iTunes. In celebration of the Quartet’s 50th anniversary, Sony released seven CDs containing previously unreleased material as well as notable performances from the Quartet’s award-winning discography. With more than 100 releases to its credit, the ensemble is one of the most widely recorded string quartets of our time. Its recordings of the complete Beethoven quartets, the complete Schoenberg quartets, and the Debussy and Ravel string quartets have all received Grammy Awards. Inducted into the Hall of Fame of the National Academy for Recording Arts and Sciences in 1986 for its recording of the complete Bartók string quartets, the Juilliard Quartet was awarded the Deutsche Schallplattenkritik Prize in 1993 for Lifetime Achievement in the recording industry. In 1994, its recording of quartets by Ravel, Debussy, and Dutilleux was chosen by the Times of London as one of the 100 best classical CDs ever recorded.

A Far Cry Hailed by the Boston Globe as “one of Boston’s most promising classical music groups,” A Far Cry is making waves, experimenting with how music is performed and heard. A tightly-knit group of 17 young professional musicians, A Far Cry formed in early 2007, seeking the freedom and flexibility of a string quartet as well as the power and beauty of an orchestra. Operating with rotating leadership and no conductor, A Far Cry is generating interest not only in the concert hall, but also with its innovative model. All artistic decisions are made by vote as a collective, and the musicians take care of all the behind-the-scenes work, from booking concerts to designing programs.  

Music from Yellow Barn
Yellow Barn is an internationally respected chamber music school and festival. Its principal activities are a five week summer chamber music festival/training program for young professional musicians, a 2 ½ week training program for high school instrumentalists and composers (Young Artists Program) and a year round series of artist residencies and workshops, all based in Putney, VT. The program is distinguished by Yellow Barn’s renowned faculty, innovative programming, and extraordinary participants who are selected on the basis of highly competitive nationwide auditions each spring. From its inception, Yellow Barn has been admired for its supportive and collegial environment. Building on that quality, this combination of faculty, programming and participants has brought the program wide acclaim. Participants and faculty alike are attracted to Yellow Barn as a place of artistic renewal and ongoing musical exploration.
2010-2011 SOUNDINGS CONCERT SERIES / UPCOMING PROGRAMS February 20, 2010 In spite of the highly engineered nature of the keyboard and the primal beginnings of the world of percussion, these instruments have become deeply connected in the music of our time. Theatrical, humorous and spiritual, this Soundings programexplores the relationship of piano and percussion and the ways in which they have grown both inseparable and independently from one another featuring works by Paul Lansky, Georges Aperghis, Johann Sebastian Bach, Dmitri Shostakovich, and George Crumb.  

April 1, 2010 The Brentano String Quartet brings two of contemporary music’s most individual voices to the Nasher in works by the American composer Steven Mackey and Soviet composer Sophia Gubaidulina. On this program they are linked by their shared homage to Bach’s masterpiece Art of Fugue. The Brentanos underscore how deeply the music of our time is influenced by the genius of past generations with a performance of one of Beethoven’s final works, the inconceivably forward-looking String Quartet, opus 135 and Alban Berg’s String Quartet, opus 3.

June 11, 2010 Kafka Fragments, György Kurtág’s monumental seventy-minute song cycle for soprano and violin, sets texts by Franz Kafka. Composed of 40 songs in four books, Kafka Fragments presents a selection of journal entries, excerpts from letters, and aphorisms by the Czech author set with extraordinary theatrical intensity and economy by the Hungarian composer Kurtág.   The eminent Kafka scholar, Stanley Corngold, Professor of German and Comparative Literature at Princeton University whose translation is being used in this performance says that Kurtág’s music “celebrates Kafka’s mind, his sensibility, his inwardness in burning-bright musical vision.” The settings provide “an intense fusion of two subjectivities.”   Violinist Violaine Melançon adds that “Kafka’s words and Kurtág’s music are kindred spirits. Both creators are masters of the oblique, of the minimal, of expressing worlds of atmosphere between the words, between the notes.    

About Seth Knopp, Artistic Director, Soundings: Pianist Seth Knopp is a founding member of the Peabody Trio, recipient of the 1989 Naumburg Award. Since making their Alice Tully Hall debut in 1990, the trio has performed on the most important chamber music series, nationally and internationally. Their reputation as champions of new music garnered them an invitation to the first Biennale for contemporary music, Tempus Fugit, in Tel Aviv. The ensemble is in residence at the Peabody Conservatory, where Mr. Knopp serves on the piano and chamber music faculties. He is the Artistic Director of the Yellow Barn Music School and Festival, an international chamber music festival, which brings musicians to Putney, Vermont each summer. Seth Knopp studied with Leonard Shure at New England Conservatory, Nathan Schwartz at San Francisco Conservatory, and with Leon Fleisher. His solo and chamber music performances can be heard on the Artek, Koch, and New World Records labels.

About the Nasher Sculpture Center:
Open since October 2003, the Nasher Sculpture Center is dedicated to the display and study of modern and contemporary sculpture. The Center is located on a 2.4-acre site in the heart of the Dallas Arts District. Renzo Piano, a world-renowned architect and winner of the prestigious Pritzker Prize in 1998, is the architect of the Center’s 55,000-square-foot building. Piano worked in collaboration with landscape architect Peter Walker on the design of the two-acre sculpture garden.

The Nasher Sculpture Center was the longtime dream of the late Raymond and Patsy Nasher, who together formed one of the finest collections of modern and contemporary sculpture in the world. The Raymond and Patsy Nasher Collection includes masterpieces by Calder, de Kooning, di Suvero, Giacometti, Hepworth, Kelly, Matisse, Miró, Moore, Picasso, Rodin, and Serra, among others, and continues to grow and evolve.

The Nasher Sculpture Center presents rotating exhibitions of works from the Nasher Collection as well as special exhibitions drawn from other museums and private collections. In addition to indoor gallery space, the Center contains an auditorium, education and research facilities, a cafe, and a store.

The Nasher Sculpture Center is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm. General Admission to the Center is $10 for adults, $7 for seniors, $5 for students, and free for members and children 12 and under. For more information, visit www.NasherSculptureCenter.org.   ### For more information and photos, please contact:   Kristen Mills Gibbins Associate Director of Media Relations 972.514.2099 [email protected]