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Art & Seek on Think TV: Grammy-Winning Eighth Blackbird


by Jerome Weeks 12 Nov 2010

The violinist for the celebrated contemporary music sextet, eighth blackbird — which is in residency at SMU — talks about minimalism, the high ideals (and self-preservation) of commissioning new music and just what the group does to make ‘difficult’ music (believe it or not) so golly-gee entertaining.

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Matt Albert is the violinist for the celebrated contemporary music sextet, eighth blackbird — which was  one of the first winners of SMU’s new Meadows Prize. The prize money came with strings attached — very smart strings in the way they included a lengthy on-campus residency to encourage the winners to contribute something substantial both to SMU’s students (workshops, master classes, collaborative performances) and to the Dallas area at large (public concerts and a “lasting legacy”).

Which is why you may have seen or heard them around the past few weeks — and they’ll be back. The DMN‘s Scott Cantrell called the ensemble’s October 23rd performance “virtuosic, atmospheric, flamboyant and haunting.”

The name of the group, by the way, derives from the famous Wallace Stevens poem, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.”

I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.

“Noble accents and lucid, inescapable rhythms” — not bad goals for any music ensemble. So Art&Seek talked to Matt about the styles of music that eighth blackbird specializes in, self-preservation and high-ideals in music-commissioning and whether they really wanted to be the Kronos Sextet.

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