January 10, 2013

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By Kathryn Kopchik

LEWISBURG, Pa. — Modern classical ensemble eighth blackbird will perform in concert Friday, Feb. 8, at 8 p.m. in the Weis Center for the Performing Arts at Bucknell University. The event is sponsored, in part, by Lois Svard and Peter Kresl. The concert will be preceded by a pre-performance talk with eighth blackbird in the Weis Center Lobby at 7:20 p.m.

The Chicago-based, two-time Grammy Award-winning sextet combines the finesse of a string quartet with the energy of a rock band and the audacity of a storefront theater company. Its musical aerobatics delight, provoke and entertain audiences around the world.

The Los Angeles Times says of the group, "The blackbirds are examples of a new breed of super-musicians." The ensemble has won two Grammy Awards and was recently nominated for an additional Grammy in the Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance category.

Kathryn Maguet, executive director of the Weis Center, says, "The Weis Center for the Performing Arts stretches its wings this February with a performance by the highly acclaimed Grammy Award-winning new-music sextet, eighth blackbird. This energetic ensemble is truly at the forefront of contemporary music and central Pennsylvania audiences can expect a moving and memorable concert by this group — truly performing music of our time."

In addition to its longstanding relationships as Ensemble in Residence at the University of Richmond and University of Chicago, in 2012 eighth blackbird commences a three-year, Mellon Foundation-funded term as Ensemble in Residence at Philadelphia's Curtis Institute of Music.

eighth blackbird will also lead extended, one-time residencies at University of Texas at Austin and the University of Maryland. Other highlights of the ensemble's busy 2013 season include debuts with the Kansas City Symphony, Lexington Philharmonic and in Calgary, an extensive tour of Missouri and a three-city tour of the Netherlands.

This season will also feature premieres of new works by Aaron Jay Kernis (the ethereal "Pieces of Winter Sky"), The National's Bryce Dessner (a piece inspired by early American folk music), Dutch composer Mayke Nas (a fascinating theatrical exploration), Steve Mackey (music from his Grammy-winning Slide, written for the group) and Australian composer Brett Dean (the searing, intense "Sextet").

A decade-long relationship with Chicago's Cedille Records has produced five acclaimed recordings, including the brand new "Meanwhile", released in September 2012. The ensemble has won two Grammy Awards, for the recordings "strange imaginary animals" and "Lonely Motel: Music from Slide."

eighth blackbird's members hail from America's Great Lakes, Keystone, Golden and Bay states, and Australia's Sunshine State, identifying themselves as four foodies, three beer snobs and one exercise junkie. The name "eighth blackbird" derives from the eighth stanza of Wallace Stevens' poem, "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird (1917)."

This tour engagement made possible by a grant from Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The next event in the Weis Center series will be a free jazz performance by Marianne Solivan Quartet on Wednesday, Feb. 20, at 7:30 p.m. in the Weis Center Lobby, as part of the Janet Weis Jazz Series. A 2009 Jazzmobile Vocal Competition finalist, the singer is becoming one of the most buzzed about jazz singers on the New York scene. Her album, "Prisoner of Love" received Four Stars in Downbeat magazine's September 2012 issue. The infallible swing of Ella, the daring of Betty Carter, the matter-of-factness of Carmen McCrae ... They can all be found in the voice of Marianne Solivan, whom trumpeter Jeremy Pelt has called "the modern-day paradigm to which all singers should aspire."

For more information about this event, contact Lisa Leighton, marketing and outreach coordinator, at 570-577-3727 or by e-mail at lisa.leighton@bucknell.edu.

For more information about future programming at the Weis Center for the Performing Arts, go to www.facebook.com/WeisCenter or www.bucknell.edu/WeisCenter.

Contact: Division of Communications