Jan. 4, 2001
Vol. 20 No. 7

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    Pacifica Quartet, eighth blackbird to perform in Mandel

    Pacifica Quartet
    Two upcoming concerts in Mandel Hall during January will present Chicago music listeners with a chance to hear live performances by two critically acclaimed music ensembles currently in residence at the University.

    The Department of Music will present a concert by Artists-in-Residence the Pacifica Quartet, at 3 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 14, and the 37th Contemporary Chamber Players season will begin with a concert by newly appointed Associate Artists-in-Residence eighth blackbird at 8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 19.

    The Music Department’s Artists-in-Residence program has contributed to the musical life of the campus since 1998, when the Pacifica String Quartet became the first resident ensemble in the history of the University. According to Richard Cohn, Professor and Chairman of Music, the program enhances student musical performance in a number of different ways.

    “In their work with composition students, the musicians give them a performer’s perspective on composing effectively for instruments,” said Cohn. “The musicians also work with chamber music groups––coaching them on interpretation and ensemble––and play alongside the best student instrumental musicians as members of the Rockefeller Bach Players.” Cohn explained that performing alongside superior players challenges less experienced musicians to improve their playing. He described the effect as similar to that of “volleying with a good tennis player.”

    The Pacifica Quartet’s Jan. 14 performance will feature Schumann’s String Quartet in A minor, Op. 41, No. 1; Carter’s String Quartet No. 5; and Dvor·k’s String Quintet in E-flat Major, Op. 97, American, which will include a guest appearance by Primrose Prize-winning violist Scott Lee.

    The concert will mark the second time this season that Pacifica has performed a work by Elliot Carter, who at age 92 is widely regarded as the doyen of American composers. During the 2000-01 and 2001-2002 seasons, the quartet plans to perform all five of Carter’s string quartets.

    eighth blackbird

    The Jan. 19 debut of eighth blackbird in the Contemporary Chamber Players series will focus on the music of young American composers. Its first performance at the University will include David Schober’s Variations; Daniel Kellogg’s Divinum Mysterium; Kenneth Eberhard’s The Road to Las Cruces; Kevin Putz’s Obsessive Nature; and Frederic Rzewski’s Coming Together.

    Taking its name from the Wallace Stevens poem “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird,” eighth blackbird has been noted by critics as one of the most exciting new, young ensembles performing today. The New Yorker has called eighth blackbird a “fiendishly good new-music ensemble,” and The New York Times has referred to the group as “a superb contemporary sextet.”

    eighth blackbird also has received a number of prestigious prizes, including the 2000 Walter F. Naumburg Foundation Chamber Music Award and the 1999 ASCAP/CMA Award for Adventurous Programming. The group’s critically acclaimed live performances and its 1999 debut CD, Round Nut Tool, also have added to a growing reputation.

    The Pacifica Quartet also has built a reputation as one of today’s most dynamic young chamber groups, receiving praise for its ensemble work and impassioned interpretations. The New York Times has noted Pacifica’s members’ “close togetherness through shifts and swerves of speed and texture,” while The Los Angeles Times has claimed, “Pacifica lives up to its prizes.” Those prizes include the 1998 Naumburg Chamber Music Competition, the 1996 Grand Prize at the Coleman Chamber Music Competition and the 1997 Nathan Wedeen Management Award at the Concert Artists Guild Competition.

    “We’re thrilled to have these superb ensembles perform on our Contemporary Chamber Players series this year,” said CCP Resident Conductor Barbara Schubert. “They’re marvelously accomplished musicians, and they present dynamic, dramatic and convincing performances of contemporary music. Their concerts are a real treat for the listener.”

    Pacifica’s Jan. 14 performance precedes an upcoming studio session with Michael Tree of the Guarneri Quartet, during which the group will record Dvor·k’s String Quintet in E-flat Major.

    A compact disc of the Pacifica’s performance of three string quartets by the distinguished Chicago composer Easley Blackwood, Professor Emeritus in Music, is currently available through Cedille Records on the Web at http://www.cedillerecords.org. Round Nut Tool by eighth blackbird is available for order at the group’s Web site, http://www.eighthblackbird.com/.

    For further information about either event, please call the Music Department’s concert hot line at (773)-702-8069.