“[Colombine’s Paradise Theater is] wildly imaginative … a tour de force … It’s a darkly beautiful love story that’s steeped in myth yet utterly modern.” -Washington Post
eighth blackbird presents Heart and Breath, featuring the ensemble’s new staged production Colombine’s Paradise Theatre, developed in part through residencies at MCA Stage. Lingering in a world between death and life, torn between desire and truth, Colombine is caught in a haunted loop. The possessive Harlequin and the lovelorn Pierrot orbit around her in a fight for both her heart and soul. Composer and Guggenheim Fellow Amy Beth Kirsten’s fragile, seductive music has been described as “torrential and haunting.” The six musicians of multi-Grammy-winning ensemble eighth blackbird play, speak, sing, whisper, growl, and mime, breathing theatrical life into the commedia dell’arte characters of Colombine’s Paradise Theatre, a musical tale of love and death, dream and delusion. Preceding Kirsten’s work is a first half that spans three centuries but is unified in its passionate attention to the themes of heart and breath.
Richard Reed Parry: Duet for Heart and Breath
Claudio Monteverdi, arr. Munro: Lamento della Ninfa
Carlo Gesualdo, arr. Munro:Moro: lasso al mio duolo
Bon Iver, arr. Kaplan: Babys
Amy Beth Kirsten: Colombine’s Paradise Theatre
2013 production directed and designed by Mark DeChiazza
About the Artists
Chicago-based eighth blackbird captured their third Grammy Award in 2013 for Meanwhile (Cedille Records) in the chamber music category. The ensemble’s two earlier Grammy Awards are for strange imaginary animals (Best Chamber Music Performance, 2006) and Lonely Motel: Music from Slide (Best Small Ensemble Performance, 2012). Since its founding in 1996, eighth blackbird has actively commissioned and recorded new works from such eminent composers as Steve Reich, George Perle, and Frederic Rzewski, and has commissioned groundbreaking works from a younger generation (Jennifer Higdon, Stephen Hartke, Derek Bermel, David Schober, Daniel Kellogg, and Carlos Sánchez-Gutiérrez). Steve Reich’s off-kilter jam session Double Sextet won the Pulitzer Prize for Music, and the MCA joined eighth blackbird in commissioning Murder Ballades by Bryce Dessner of The National. eighth blackbird has performed across the world from Carnegie Hall to London’s Barbican Centre. The sextet has performed Jennifer Higdon’s concerto On a Wire (an eighth blackbird commission) with major symphony orchestras that include Cleveland, Atlanta, and Toronto.
Learn more about eighth blackbird.
Amy Beth Kirsten, a native of Belleville, Illinois, is an ascending composer for orchestra, chamber ensemble, opera, and solo instruments, and also a librettist and poet. During her studies at Benedictine University (BA, jazz studies) and Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University (MM, composition), she often performed her own songs at clubs in the area. Since then Kirsten has written music for orchestra, chamber ensemble, opera, and solo instruments. Color, memory, voice, words, and breath are fascinations that are intrinsic to her musical language. She has a doctorate in composition from Peabody Conservatory, and her notable awards and grants are from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, Fromm Foundation (Harvard University), and The MAP Fund. Her recent work for solo cello is commissioned by Jeffrey Zeigler of Kronos Quartet. She teaches composition at the HighSCORE Festival in Pavia, Italy, and has taught on the faculties of Peabody Conservatory, Towson University, Wesleyan University, and the University of Connecticut. She lives in New Haven, Connecticut.
Learn more about Amy Beth Kirsten.
Artists Up Close
First Night Post-Show Talk
Sat, Mar 8
Peter Taub, Director of Performance Programs, leads a discussion with the artists and audience immediately following the performance.