How do you connect with composers to write new works for you and how does that fit in with your other activities? Matthew Albert, Violinist, eighth blackbird

Since eighth blackbird is essentially a cover band, we are completely dependent on composers to keep our sound, our passion, our concretizing experiences alive. So finding the right composers, people excited about what we do who are saying something in a way we haven’t heard before, is critical to our career.

Two methods of connecting with composers have worked extremely well for us so far: new music festivals and the Internet. New music festivals like Cincinnati’s Music 2001 and Norfolk’s Contemporary Music Seminar have allowed us to submerge ourselves in new works (sometimes too many in too short a time!) with the composers in attendance, and the collaborations have often continued beyond the festivals themselves. The Internet has given us a way to solicit materials from a broad range of composers whom we might never have met in person, and the group listening sessions that evolve around those submissions have produced some amazing and exciting discoveries. These kinds of composer discoveries will keep us inspired and challenged at least as long as we play together, and for that we are all thankful.

eighth blackbird
Photo by Jeffrey Hornstein, courtesy of ICM Artists, Ltd.