Eighth Blackbird with Nico Muhly and Bryce Dessner

  • Edlis Neeson Theater
    First Floor, Accessible via the Griffin Entrance on Pearson Street
    220 E Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

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Eighth Blackbird
Photo: RR Jones


The blackbirds are examples of a new breed of super-musicians.
—Los Angeles Times


Eighth Blackbird keeps soaring! Collecting its third Grammy Award in 2012, the group now returns to the MCA to perform with two multifaceted indie superstars, Bryce Dessner and Nico Muhly. MCA Stage co-commissioned Dessner’s new work for Eighth Blackbird, and this concert culminates the MCA’s mid-winter focus on new music. Dessner and Muhly perform with Eighth Blackbird as well as each other, playing their own music as well as music by composers who have inspired them.

Highlights of these collaborative concerts include Muhly’s Chicago premiere of Doublespeak, composed for the ensemble in honor of Philip Glass’s 75th birthday, and Dessner’s new dark and melodious Murder Ballades, co-commissioned by MCA Chicago.

Also featured is guitarist/composer Steve Mackey’s mournful Grammy-winning song Lonely Motel (revised specifically for these concerts), Tristan Perich’s modern classic qsqsqsqsqqqqqqqqq, and a new version of David Lang’s ecstatic, non-religious prayer, How to Pray. Eighth Blackbird pianist Lisa Kaplan performs her New work for piano four hands and the evening culminates with Two Pages, Philip Glass’s spinning and hypnotic work.

To celebrate the official release of David Lang’s album death speaks, Lang, Dessner, Muhly, and Worden sign CDs after the concert on Wednesday, May 1.

About the Artists

Bryce Dessner is a member of indie rock band The National, cofounder of the contemporary classical ensemble Clogs, and a gifted composer who has worked with the Kronos Quartet, Bang on a Can All-Stars, and BAM Next Wave Festival. He is also the creator and artistic director of the acclaimed MusicNOW Festival in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Nico Muhly is an impossibly prodigious composer, performer, arranger, and thinker who has worked with Björk, Philip Glass, and Sufjan Stevens, and has written an opera for the Met and created the film score for The Reader.

Shara Worden, lead singer of My Brightest Diamond, joins the ensemble as a special guest in two songs from her most recent recording, death speaks, by David Lang. The album also features Muhly and Dessner.