David Lang: learn to fly
Bryce Dessner: Murder Ballades
Frederic Rzewski: Coming Together (speaker: Will Oldham)
Will Oldham: Songs
Eighth Blackbird’s “super-musicians” (Los Angeles Times) combine the finesse of a string quartet, the energy of a rock band, and the audacity of a storefront theater company. The Chicago-based, four-time GRAMMY Award-winning sextet celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2016: two decades spent performing for audiences across the country and around the world with impeccable precision and a signature style. A winner of the 2016 MacArthur Award for Effective and Creative Leadership, eighth blackbird has been described as “one of the smartest, most dynamic contemporary classical ensembles on the planet” (Chicago Tribune). The group began in 1996 as a six entrepreneurial Oberlin Conservatory students and quickly became “a brand-name…defined by adventure, vibrancy and quality….known for performing from memory, employing choreography and collaborations with theater artists, lighting designers and even puppetry artists” (Detroit Free Press).
Eighth Blackbird will be joined by Will Oldham, aka Bonnie “Prince” Billy, for half of the program, featuring arrangements of his songs as well as Frederic Rzewski’s powerful piece Coming Together. The man who acts under the name Will Oldham and sings and composes under the name Bonnie “Prince” Billy has, over the past quarter-century, made an idiosyncratic journey through, and an indelible mark on, the worlds of indie rock and independent cinema. With his highly individualistic approach to music making and the music industry, one that cherishes intimacy, community, mystery, and spontaneity; his brilliance has captivated fans and made Bonny one of our most influential and beloved songsmiths.
The program will also feature Bryce Dessner’s Murder Ballades, a work inspired by American folk music and commissioned by Eighth Blackbird. Bryce Dessner is one of the most sought-after composers of his generation, with a rapidly expanding catalog of works commissioned by leading ensembles. His orchestral, chamber, and vocal compositions have been commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Metropolitan Museum of Art (for the New York Philharmonic), Kronos Quartet, BAM Next Wave Festival, Barbican Centre, Edinburgh International Festival, Sydney Festival, eighth blackbird, Sō Percussion, New York City Ballet, and many others. He has created theatrical works in collaboration with choreographers Benjamin Millepied and Justin Peck, artists Matthew Ritchie, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Ragnar Kjartansson, Marcel Dzama, the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Sufjan Stevens and Nico Muhly.