Penn State College of Arts and Architecture
Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State
Musicians stand on pipes at staggered heights.


eighth blackbird, “the altogether brilliant and fearless young sextet that champions both modern music and dramatic experimentation” (Chicago-Sun Times), combines the finesse of a string quartet, the energy of a rock band, and the audacity of a storefront theatre company. The Chicago ensemble, winner of three Grammy Awards, promises—and delivers—provocative and mind-changing performances to its burgeoning audiences. Combining virtuosity with a sense of irreverence, eighth blackbird debunks the myth that contemporary music is only for a cerebral few. “Stage animals as well as outstanding chamber players, eighth blackbird performs with a freedom unheard of in their technically demanding repertoire,” writes a critic for London’s Sunday Telegraph. The sextet features clarinetist Michael Maccaferri, flutist Tim Munro, violinist and violist Yvonne Lam, percussionist Matthew Duvall, pianist Lisa Kaplan, and cellist Nicholas Photinos.

Artist website: eighth blackbird

1Project Events

Movement Workshop

10 a.m. Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Music Building I Esber Recital Hall

The public is invited to observe as members of eighth blackbird coach Penn State School of Music string, woodwind, and brass graduate students who have memorized a short piece, movement, or segment of a larger work. The workshop addresses issues such as movement, choreography, stage presence, and visual communication. Each of the three sections lasts approximately 30 minutes. School of Music faculty members Max Zorin, Tim Hurtz, and Velvet Brown host the workshop.

Percussion Master Class

11 a.m. Tuesday, March 31, 2015
128 Music Building II

The public is welcome to observe as eighth blackbird’s Matthew Duvall works with Penn State School of Music percussion students in a 90-minute session hosted by Professor Dan C. Armstrong.

Composer Seminar

2:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 31, 2015
110 Music Building I

The public is encouraged to attend as members of eighth blackbird discuss writing for strings, winds, and piano/percussion, plus composing for groups using mixed instrumentation. Other seminar topics might include orchestration, commissioning, score organization, and meeting deadlines. Paul Barsom, Penn State School of Music professor of composition, leads the 75-minute seminar.

Classical Coffeehouse

Presented in partnership with the Blue & White Society and the Penn State Alumni Association

8 p.m. Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Hintz Family Alumni Center’s Robb Hall

Free and open to the public

Support provided by Penn State Council of LionHearts

The Chicago sextet, acclaimed for its energetic performances of modern music and its theatrical flair, plays selected works and engages in conversation with the audience. Enjoy complimentary refreshments, including cookies and coffee, and receive a Classical Coffeehouse mug, while supply lasts.

Each Penn State student in attendance receives—at the end of the coffeehouse—a voucher for a serving of Berkey Creamery ice cream.

Graduate Review of Twentieth-century Analysis Class Visit

9:05 a.m. Wednesday, April 1, 2015
102 Music Building I
Not open to the public

Members of eighth blackbird share their observations about studying twentieth- and twenty-first-century music.

Practical Arts Entrepreneurship Class Visit

11:15 a.m. Wednesday, April 1, 2015
118 Borland Building I

The public is invited to hear members of eighth blackbird introduce techniques for college students and educators to consider various aspects of what they can accomplish as musicians. Various topics, including the business aspects of running a chamber music ensemble, will be explored. Assistant Professor Jonathan Gangi moderates the 45-minute session.

Conversation with Paterno Fellows

12:15 p.m. Wednesday, April 1, 2015
W-023 Pattee Library
Not open to the public

The eighth blackbird musicians engage in an informal conversation with students in the Penn State Paterno Fellows program. The event includes a question-and-answer session.

Pierrot Plus—The New Music Orchestra

3 p.m. Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Penn State Altoona
Misciagna Family Center for Performing Arts
Titelman Study

Dr. Tim Melbinger, instructor in music at Penn State Altoona, gives a brief history of the orchestra and the events that led to its contraction to an important subset, a sextet called Pierrot Plus (eighth blackbird is an example). The eighth blackbird musicians then discuss their repertoire and perform samples from the evening program.

An Evening with eighth blackbird

7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Penn State Altoona
Misciagna Family Center for Performing Arts
Paul R. and Margery Wolf Kuhn Theatre

The sextet performs a free concert scheduled to include “Counting Duets/Etudes” by Tom Johnson and György Ligeti, arranged by Lisa Kaplan and Tim Munro; “Doublespeak” by Nico Muhly; and “Songs of Love and Loss,” including “Duet for Heart and Breath” by Richard Reed Parry, “Lamento della Ninfa” by Claudio Monteverdi (arrangement by Munro), “Moro, lasso al mio duolo” by Carlo Gesualdo (arranged by Munro), and “Babys” by Bon Iver (arranged by Kaplan).

Free tickets, required for the evening concert, are available at the Misciagna Box Office, Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., or at the door. Free parking is available after 3 p.m. in the Misciagna lot. For more information, phone the box office at 814-949-5452.

A commissioned piece by Aaron Jay Kernis and other music

7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 2, 2015
Schwab Auditorium

The ensemble makes its Center for the Performing Arts concert premiere with a performance of Pieces of Winter Sky, an Aaron Jay Kernis composition co-commissioned by Penn State through its membership in the national classical music-commissioning consortium Music Accord. The program also includes works by Tom Johnson, György Ligeti, Richard Reed Parry, Gabriella Smith, and Bryce Dessner.

Adult $42  |  University Park Student $19  |  18 and Younger $32

Buy Tickets

Complimentary round-trip shuttle service is provided between the Eisenhower Parking Deck and Schwab. Board the shuttle in the area between the parking deck and the Eisenhower Auditorium rear loading dock. The first shuttle leaves Eisenhower at 6:05 p.m., followed by others every twenty minutes until 7:05 p.m. After the concert, the shuttle makes as many trips as necessary to return riders to Eisenhower.

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Artistic Viewpoints

Artistic Viewpoints, an informal moderated discussion featuring eighth blackbird percussionist Matthew Duvall and cellist Nicholas Photinos, is offered in Schwab one hour before the performance and is free for ticket holders.

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