From Eighth Blackbird: “Introducing the 2018 Blackbird Creative Lab Fellows”

Eighth Blackbird

Introducing the 2018 Blackbird Creative Lab Fellows

Eighth Blackbird is pleased to announce that 30 artists have been selected to receive Fellowships to the Blackbird Creative Lab, a two-week summer training program taking place June 11 – 23 at the Besant Hill School in Ojai, California. The Fellows include fourteen performers, six composers, three ensembles, and the program’s first video artist. This is the second cohort of Lab fellows, joining a vibrant network of alumni from the program’s inaugural year.


Chosen from a talented pool of international applicants, the 30 Fellows will attend tuition-free, inclusive of room and board, made possible in part by an Art Works grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional support from the Maxine and Stuart Frankel Foundation and The Colburn Foundation. The 2018 Fellows hail from Canada, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand and the USA, and are a diverse group selected for their talent, technical proficiency, personality, curiosity and creativity. The fellows each had a chance to react to their acceptance, and their excitement to attend The Lab is palpable. Meet them all in the following video:

In addition to Eighth Blackbird, this year’s Blackbird Creative Lab faculty includes returning composer Jennifer Higdon joined by Nico Muhly, and choreographer Ros Warby. During the session, a stellar array of guest artists will rotate through The Lab: curator Kristy Edmunds, performance psychologist Dana Putnam Fonteneau, visual artist Ann Hamilton, producer Tom Morris of the Ojai Music Festival, and singer/songwriter Shara Nova (My Brightest Diamond) has stepped in as a replacement for violist Nadia Sirota.

With this roster of distinguished artists, Lab Fellows will participate in a learn-by-doing, exploratory process of creating new work – one that integrates the essential skills required for success in the field today. These include developing a performance aesthetic, nurturing one’s curatorial vision, and building an entrepreneurial foundation. With this inclusive training, the Fellows will be poised to embark on their own paths as provocateurs and visionaries in the arts.


The Blackbird Creative Lab will culminate in a pair of concerts, June 22 and 23 (7:30 pm) at the Besant Hill School’s Zalk Theater. These will be open to the public, giving audiences a chance to experience the fruits of the two-week session, and offering the Fellows an opportunity to test their work in live performance. Mark your calendars, and visit for more information.

See the full article here .

Nathalie Joachim, flutes • Michael J. Maccaferri, clarinets • Yvonne Lam, violin & viola •
Nick Photinos, cello • Matthew Duvall, percussion • Lisa Kaplan, piano

Eighth Blackbird is “one of the smartest, most dynamic contemporary classical ensembles on the planet” (Chicago Tribune). Launched by six entrepreneurial Oberlin Conservatory undergraduates in 1996, this Chicago-based super-group has earned its status as “a brand-name…defined by adventure, vibrancy and quality….known for performing from memory, employing choreography and collaborations with theater artists, lighting designers and even puppetry artists” (Detroit Free Press).

Eighth Blackbird’s mission—moving music forward through innovative performance, advocating for new music by living composers, and creating a legacy of guiding an emerging generation of musicians —extends beyond recording and touring to curation and education. The ensemble served as Music Director of the 2009 Ojai Music Festival, has held residencies at the Curtis Institute of Music and at the University of Chicago, and holds an ongoing Ensemble-in-Residence position at the University of Richmond. The 2015-16 season featured a pioneering residency at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art: a living installation with open rehearsals, performances, guest artists, and public talks. In 2017, Eighth Blackbird launched its boldest initiative yet with the creation of Blackbird Creative Laboratory, a tuition-free, two-week summer workshop and performance festival for performers and composers in Ojai, CA.

Eighth Blackbird’s members hail from the Great Lakes, Keystone, Golden, Empire and Bay states. The name “Eighth Blackbird” derives from the eighth stanza of Wallace Stevens’s evocative, imagistic 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.”

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