Chicago-based Eighth Blackbird is a multi-faceted ensemble with a busy concert schedule—including premieres from Aaron Jay Kernis, Bryce Dessner, Mayke Nas and Steve Mackey in 2013 alone—as well as residences at the Curtis Institute of Music, UT Austin, and the University of Maryland. The group has three Grammys to their name, including one for their latest record, 2012's Meanwhile.
Flutist Tim Munro writes the following of the ensemble's Mixtape:
This is a mixtape with a difference. Instead of a personally-curated, carefully-wrought musical journey, eighth blackbird's mixtape is a rough-and-ready free-for-all. The process was simple: I asked my bandmates to give me "Your fave piece of new music. Don't think, just write it down!"
We begin with Michael Maccaferri's choice, a bracing, bold electronic overture by Tristan Perich, a composer who creates dizzying, thrilling music with the simplest means.
Then we pivot to the dark, flickering, mournful central chaconne from Thomas Adès's Violin Concerto, which Yvonne Lam describes as "beautiful without being cloying, complex without being frustratingly abstruse, virtuosic without being arrogant."
Lisa Kaplan's choice, Music for 18 Musicians, expresses to her "a real joy and exuberance that I get from listening to this piece. Whatever mood I'm in, as soon as I hit "play" it transports me to a world where everything is in its right place."
Benedict Mason gives me everything my impatient, stimulus-addicted mind needs: maniacally ticking clocks, wild dances, cheeky games, flickering lights, shadows of old music. His is a hyperactive mind in overdrive.
Matthew Duvall writes: "If the avant-garde music world has greatest hits, David Lang's Wed is likely one of them, as close as the genre gets to a poignantly wrenching track like Jeff Buckley's Hallelujah. David Lang doesn't need lyrics to make your eyes well up."
Harmonielehre is the recording that exposed Nick "to both minimalism and John Adams, and as a high-schooler it totally blew my mind." The third movement thrums with transfigured beauty, as Adams imagines his young daughter "perched on the shoulder of the medieval mystic Meister Eckhardt, as they hover among the heavenly bodies like figures painted on the high ceilings of old cathedrals.”
Tristan Perich - 1-Bit Symphony: Movements I & II
Thomas Adès - Violin Concerto, Concentric Paths: II. Paths(Anthony Marwood, violin; Chamber Orchestra of Europe; Thomas Adès, conductor)
Steve Reich - Music for 18 Musicians: Section V - VII (Ensemble Modern)
Benedict Mason - Double Concerto: I. Determined (London Sinfonietta; Diego Masson, conductor)
David Lang - Memory Pieces: Wed (Danny Holt, piano)
John Adams - Harmonielehre: Part III (San Francisco Symphony; Edo de Waart, conductor)