Santa Cruz Good Times

Saturday
Aug 01st
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Free Bird

music_eighthblackbirdSeighth blackbird’s rock ’n’ roll business plan
For audiophiles, it’s an immutable truth that there’s no experience quite like listening to music in a car, which is why driving I-5 between Los Angeles and the Bay is a favorite experience of mine: the 300-or-so Midwest-flat miles make the perfect environment for cochlea-rupturing audio levels. And indeed, I recently found myself on this (relatively) desolate stretch of road, when my copilot decided to co-opt my car stereo for his own purposes: experimental composer Steve Reich.

“Working with Steve Reich was a dream that took seven or eight years to really put together, and it was amazing what he did,” eighth blackbird violinist and violist Matt Albert had told me only days earlier—this was fortuitous. “He’s somebody who has written some of the most important pieces of the last 40 years.”

eighth blackbird, the intentionally lowercase classical sextet—coming to the Santa Cruz Civic’s “In the Blue Room” concert as part of the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music Festival on Sunday, Aug. 8—indeed ranks among the most important names in classical music today, though a far cry from the minimalist drone of Reich. In fact, the group was even recognized by its peers in claiming the 2008 Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance.

“Winning the Grammy was a huge surprise more than anything … so when we got that we felt really happy and excited and vindicated,” says Albert of his group’s big win. “Even if you don’t know what eighth blackbird is, if you’re able to say ‘Grammy-winning ensemble,’ that definitely adds a sheen or credibility that you can build on, which you then have to back up playing live.”

Accordingly, Albert admits to being somewhat conscious of the business side of music, explaining that even the sextet’s name—taken from a Wallace Stevens poem—came out of a concerted effort in branding.

“I guess it sounds more like the way that a pop group or rock band would name itself,” Albert explains, “and our thinking was that we wanted to learn from what we thought pop and rock groups did better in marketing themselves.”

In an age where it’s increasingly difficult to make a living as a professional musician, the capitalist and artistic dichotomy is clearly apparent within eighth blackbird. However, there is yet another factor at work in the band’s mission statement: academia. Albert grew up thinking he would be an engineer or mathematician before fully realizing that his stringed hobby more resembled a passion, and eighth blackbird itself came together at the Oberlin Conservatory. It also holds residency at the University of Chicago and the University of Richmond.

“Something we’ve done recently that’s worked well is to perform with students,” says Albert. “So three of us will step out of the sextet, and three students will step in and learn their parts by working with us. We’ve found this is a really great way to teach that we enjoy doing very much.”

Now active for 15 years, the band feels a challenge to push boundaries in a genre which so heavily relies on heredity. But the group—which will be performing pieces by Mazzoli, Adés, and Hartke—does find ways to keep things interesting for the ADD Generation. A couple of the evening’s pieces incorporate theatrically staged aspects one could consider more akin to a rock show.

“People are basically going to see Michael [Maccaferri], our clarinetist, running all over the stage, pausing, and then running back,” reveals Albert. “And it’s really crazy, but it depicts the music really well. … It’s a way of bringing staged pictures and an interpretive element to what people get out of a concert experience.”


eighth blackbird performs at 8 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 8, at the Santa Cruz Civic, 307 Church St., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $27.50 to $42.50 in advance. For more information, call 420-5240.
Photo Credit: Luke Ratray

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Health Screening

Santa Cruz wellness expert releases app to improve workplace well-being

 

Leo Sun; Full Moon, Venus Retro in Leo; Saturn Direct

It’s a complex week of planetary movements, challenges, demands and callings. We’re in the time of the Leo Sun. Leo—fixed fire, gold, the heart, generous, strong, noble, the king/queen—needs appreciation and praise from everyone in order to move forward. During Leo we gain a greater sense of self-identification by recognizing our creativity. It’s therefore a perfect time for Venus retrograding in Leo. In Venus retrograde we review and re-assess values. Venus retro in Leo concerns our self as valuable, acknowledging talents, gifts, abilities and offerings. Friday, Venus re-enters Leo (29 degrees, a critical degree) continuing the retrograde to 14 degrees Leo on Sept. 6. Friday (Full Moon) is also the (8 degrees) Leo solar festival, Festival of the Future. Leo is the heart of the sun, the heart of all that matters. When attuned to this heart, we have understanding and inclusivity. The heart of the Lion is Mitra (think “Maitreya,” the coming World Teacher). Leo prepares humanity to receive divine love from subtle sources and later to radiate that love to the kingdoms. Sirius, Ray 2, where love originates, streams through Regulus (heart of Leo), into the heart of the sun (Ray 2) and into all hearts. The heart of Leo is Regulus. Joining Venus, the love underlying all of creation appears. Saturday is Sun/Neptune (confusion or devotion) with late night Saturn turning stationary direct. Ideas, plans and structures held long in abeyance (since March 14) slowly move forward. (Read more on Leo and the week at nightlightnews.org and Risa D’Angeles’ Facebook page, accessed through my website.)

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of July 31

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Holy Cannoli

New bakery opens in Ben Lomond, plus Randall Grahm’s quest to grow 10,000 new grape varieties, and Mexican cooking classes

 

Is Santa Cruz turning into Malibu North?

It's got a ways to go before it gets wrecked like Malibu, but I think we need to be very careful about growth. Maria Mattioli, Santa Cruz, Psychotherapist

 

Bargetto Winery

A much-anticipated annual event at Bargetto Winery is the release of their very special La Vita red wine. June 7 was the day to be heralded this year, and I happily squeezed my car into their overloaded car park in eager anticipation of tasting the new La Vita nectar.

 

Margaritaville

Popular Capitola spot gets new owner and complete makeover