The University of Iowa
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us


100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0073; fax (319) 384-0024

Release: Jan. 5, 2001

(NOTE TO EDITORS: For eighth blackbird advance interviews, contact these members of the ensemble directly: Lisa Kaplan, pianist, at 847-869-9082 or <>, or Matthew Albert, violin/viola, at 773-456-1416 or <>. The name of the group is always written all-lower-case.)

Winner of the Naumburg Chamber Music Award, eighth blackbird, performs Jan. 25 at UI

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The contemporary chamber music ensemble eighth blackbird, winner of the prestigious Naumburg Chamber Music Award in 2000, will conclude a five-day University of Iowa residency with a concert at 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 25 in Clapp Recital Hall, sponsored by Hancher Auditorium.

The residency will open with a free family concert at 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 21 in the auditorium of West High School in Iowa City. Another free event, open to the public, will be a concert/discussion at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 23 at CSPS in Cedar Rapids.

All the music in the Jan. 25 concert program was written within the last six years, including works by Minnesota composer David Schober, Daniel Kellogg, Mexican composers Arturo Salinas and Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon, and Thomas Albert.

The concert will feature the world premiere of Kellogg’s "Divinum Mysterium," commissioned for eighth blackbird by Meet the Composer/Arts Endowment Commissioning Music/USA.

A 25-year-old Connecticut native who is composer-in-residence at the University of Connecticut, Kellogg has a keen interest in church music. "Divinum Mysterium" is the title of a 13th-century chant that speaks of the mystery of God’s relationship to the messiah.

Kellogg says of the a cappella performance of the chant, "It is one of the most beautiful and striking experiences in my musical memory and serves as the underlying fabric for this piece. . . The chant tune weaves in and out of each movement and serves as the basis for all the musical material."

Educational activities by eighth blackbird will include Jan. 22-23 workshops at McKinley Middle School and Metro High School in Cedar Rapids, and a Jan. 24 concert/discussion for UI undergraduate and graduate arts students in the UI Museum of Art.

Eighth blackbird took its name from a poem by Wallace Stevens, "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird," which announces "I know noble accents/ And lucid, inescapable rhythms." Albert’s piece, Suite from "Thirteen Ways," commissioned by eighth blackbird, is a setting of the Stevens poem.

A sextet featuring flute, clarinet, violin, cello, percussion and piano, eighth blackbird was the first contemporary ensemble ever to win the Concert Artists Guild Competition, where they won First Prize, and they also have won top prizes at the Fischoff and Coleman Chamber Music Competitions.

Donald Rosenberg wrote in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, "The six members of eighth blackbird appear to revel in works that stretch their artistic muscles and provide them with enchanting means of musical expression. . . . eighth blackbird is no ordinary ensemble. . . . The musicians are superlative players with ears for works of glowing personality."

Calling eighth blackbird "a superb contemporary sextet," Allan Kozinn of the New York Times observed, "the group’s principal assets are the players’ highly polished techniques and evident depth of feeling for a variety of contemporary styles, as well as a sartorial casualness and open manner."

The eighth blackbird residency and concert are supported by Chamber Music America, Group 5 Hospitality/Radisson Highlander Plaza and West Music Company.

Tickets for the Jan. 25 concert at $23 -- $18.40 for senior citizens, $11.50 for audience members 17 and younger, and $10 for UI students.

Box office hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. From the local calling area, dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction. Information and brochures may be requested by e-mail at <>.

People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial (319) 335-1158. This number will be answered by box office personnel prepared to offer assistance with handicapped parking, wheelchair access and seating, hearing augmentation and other services. The line is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

For UI arts information, visit this new address -- -- on the World Wide Web. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, contact <>. Learn about eighth blackbird at <>.