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Eighth Blackbird
Still In Motion

Eighth Blackbird performing Amy Beth Kirsten's Colombine’s Paradise Theatre

Photo: Maren Celest

eighth blackbird perform with a freedom almost unheard of in their technically demanding repertoire.

—The Sunday Telegraph


Eighth Blackbird combines the virtuosity of a string quartet with the energy of a storefront theater company. This three-time Grammy-winning “superensemble” brings a very special program to the MCA, full to the brim with rambunctious characters, strange locales and wicked grins. If Tom Johnson's Counting Duets is Sesame Street on acid, then new arrangements of Ligeti's Études are Chopin Gone Wild. Steve Mackey provides a moving portrait of loneliness and delusion in his Grammy-winning Slide, while Australian composer Brett Dean fills Old Kings in Exile with hallucinatory dreams and threatening night-terrors. Last Exit, by eighth blackbird flutist Tim Munro, evokes the dark shadows of his hometown of Brisbane, Australia, and Gabriella Smith is an original, talented and compelling new voice in American composition.

Eighth Blackbird and the MCA present the program Still in Motion rather than the previously announced Heart and Breath {bio: (including Colombine’s Paradise Theatre). Due to a knee injury of an ensemble member and the theatrical demands of Colombine’s Paradise Theatre, that program has been replaced but may be presented in a future season.


  • Steve Mackey: Suite: Slide (2012)} CHICAGO PREMIERE
  • Richard Parry: Duo for Heart and Breath(2011)

Brett Dean: Sextet: Old Kings in Exile(2010)


  • Gabriella Smith: Number Nine(2013) CHICAGO PREMIERE
  • Tim Munro: Last Exit(2013)
  • Tom Johnson: Counting Duets(1982)

György Ligeti: Études arr. sextet (1985-2001) CHICAGO PREMIERE

Eighth Blackbird

Photo: Nathan Keay © MCA Chicago

About the Artist

Chicago-based eighth blackbird captured their third Grammy Award in 2013 forMeanwhile(Cedille Records) in the chamber music category. The ensemble’s two earlier Grammy Awards are forstrange imaginary animals(Best Chamber Music Performance, 2006) andLonely 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 sessionDouble Sextetwon the Pulitzer Prize for Music, and the MCA joined eighth blackbird in commissioningMurder Balladesby 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 concertoOn a Wire (an eighth blackbird commission) with major symphony orchestras that include Cleveland, Atlanta, and Toronto.

Matthew Duvall, percussion; Lisa Kaplan, piano; Yvonne Lam, violin & viola; Michael J. Maccaferri, clarinets; Tim Munro, flutes; and Nicholas Photinos, cello. For the Still in Motion concerts at MCA Stage, Matthew Duvall is replaced by Doug Perkins.


Support for eighth blackbird: Still In Motion is provided in part by The Amphion Foundation.