Chamber Music Cincinnati presented eighth blackbird in concert, featuring the works of Missy Mazzoli, George Perle, Thomas Adès, Stephen Hartke, and Steve Reich. For a complete play-by-play of the concert, read Mary Ellyn Hutton's review online.
Honestly, I've been waiting for this concert for MONTHS. I wanted to hear a performance of Hartke's Meanwhile when it was performed in Chicago last year. Alas, my master's recital was the day before, and my parents actually made the trek out to Cincinnati in February, which is probably the worst time of year to visit. Unfortunately, I had to let this concert go and hope for something to pop up online. (Funny, I think I remember performing on this stage when I used to play piano.)
When eighth blackbird released their 2009-2010 schedule online and saw that they would be coming to Cincinnati AND that they would be performing this piece, I was ecstatic. So, even with my expectations set exponentially high, last Tuesday's concert was absolutely enjoyable.
The selections for the concert were all solid and different in their own way. Mazzoli's was influenced by indie rock; some of my younger colleagues like this piece the most. Both Perle's and Adès's pieces included a bit of humor. Hartke's piece was enchanting, especially with the added choreography. I think I really enjoyed this piece because (a) it's a well-written piece, and the use of orchestration + Flexatone Gamelan equals a win (b) the staging added an extra element that enhanced the theatrics (and mock-puppetry). (On this note, their movement for this piece reminded me of the very first eighth blackbird concert I saw where they were moving around like *crazy.* At that time, I never saw a chamber group like them before.)
At the end, they performed Steve Reich's Double Sextet, which I heard two years ago (it was the Cincinnati premiere). Then, they performed it with pre-recorded eighth blackbird; on Tuesday, they performed it live with the CCM Chamber Players (dir. Rodney Winther).
(Photo credit: http://twitter.com/eighthblackbird) (Yes, I stole this.)
I was quite curious how this version would sound. I was also curious about the visuals. So, at the beginning of the concert, I sat in the balcony so I could watch (and listen).
WOW. I think the acoustic version is better. You easily see the hocketing and the precise timing between the sextets. The communication between the instrumental pairs was exciting to watch. And on top of this, I was especially proud to be a CCM student. I always knew that the CCM Chamber Players are an amazing group, and I truly believe they are even better this year. I felt like they were representing me (and the whole school), inspiring us to go do what we're best at. I hope the rest of the audience realized how special that performance was.
(Stole this one, too. Sorry, guys.)