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Curtis 20/21 performs with eighth blackbird and Matthias Pintscher Dec 8 and 9

Grammy Award-winning new music ensemble coaches and performs side-by-side with Curtis students and composer and conductor Matthias Pintscher


(November 29, 2012) Acclaimed contemporary music ensemble eighth blackbird, composer and conductor Matthias Pintscher, and Curtis 20/21, the school's contemporary music ensemble, join forces for two performances on Saturday, December 8 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, December 9 at 3 p.m. The free recitals take place in the Curtis Institute of Music's Gould Rehearsal Hall, located inside Lenfest Hall at 1616 Locust Street, Philadelphia.

As part of eighth blackbird's ground-breaking three-year residency funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the sextet coaches and performs side-by-side with Curtis students on a program curated with Matthias Pintscher, including Franco Donatoni's sextet Arpège and Pintscher's on a clear day for solo piano, performed by Curtis student Andrew Hsu. Praised for programs that are "imaginatively conceived, smartly sequenced, and brilliantly executed" (Philadelphia Inquirer), Mr. Pintscher conducts works by Berio and Schoenberg, as well as his own double bass concerto for chamber ensemble with electronics.

eighth blackbird is in the first year of its Curtis residency, where the group will connect in some way with nearly every student at Curtis through side-by-side performances, coachings, composition and conducting seminars, leadership discussions, and more. Building on Curtis's "learn by doing" philosophy and strong program in contemporary music, eighth blackbird will encourage students to be inventive and entrepreneurial about their own careers and to connect more deeply with audiences and their community.

Performing a wide range of music of 20th and 21st century composers, Curtis 20/21 is flexible in size and scope to include works for solo performers, chamber groups, and larger ensembles with conductor. Guest artists and composers frequently collaborate with the ensemble, including Lucy Shelton, Charles Dutoit, and Peter Serkin, as well Curtis faculty and alumni. Guest composers-in-residence have included John Corigliano, Joan Tower, and George Crumb. Curtis 20/21 often performs in major venues outside of school and is committed to performing and commissioning works from Curtis composers, both current students and alumni. Curtis gratefully acknowledges Georges Markow-Totevy and the Markow-Totevy Foundation for its support of the 20/21 contemporary music program at Curtis.

eighth blackbird lives dangerously. The Chicago-based sextet combines the finesse of a string quartet with the energy of a rock band and the riskiness of a storefront theater company. Recent commissions include Steve Reich's Double Sextet, Jennifer Higdon's On a Wire, and Steve Mackey's Slide, and future collaborators include Amy Beth Kirsten, Brett Dean, Aaron Jay Kernis, John Luther Adams, and Mayke Nas. In addition to their Curtis Institute of Music residency, eighth blackbird holds ongoing ensemble-in-residence positions at the University of Richmond and University of Chicago and has led short-term residencies at the Colburn School, University of Michigan, Oberlin College, Southern Methodist University, and Rice University. A fruitful relationship with Chicago's Cedille Records has produced four acclaimed recordings, including strange imaginary animals (2006), winner of two Grammy Awards. Lonely Motel: Music from Slide, eighth blackbird's newest disc, won the 2011 Grammy for Best Small Ensemble Performance and was nominated in three other categories. The name "eighth blackbird" derives from the eighth stanza of Wallace Stevens's evocative, aphoristic poem, Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird (1917).

Matthias Pintscher sees his two main spheres of activity--composing and conducting--as entirely complementary. He has created significant works for the world's leading orchestras, and his intrinsic understanding of the score from the composer's perspective informs his ability to communicate on the podium. In 2012 he was named by the Ensemble Intercontemporain as its next music director, beginning in the 2013-14 season. Now entering into his third season as Artist-in-Association with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Mr. Pintscher continues his partnership with the BBC SSO with concerts in both its regular subscription and contemporary series, covering the entire repertoire of music from the Baroque period to contemporary. In the 2012-13 season, Mr. Pintscher makes debuts with Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, New World Symphony in Miami, Colorado Symphony, Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, and will take the BBC Scottish Symphony to the London Proms and the Huddersfield Festival. He conducts an all-Beethoven program at the Beethoven Festival in Chicago, including a choreographed production of The Creatures of Prometheus. He returns to the New York Philharmonic, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Grand Tetons Music Festival, the Scharoun Ensemble of the Berlin Philharmonic for the 25th-anniversary celebration of the chamber hall at the Berlin Philharmonie, and to the Slovenian Philharmonic, where he simultaneously curates the Slowind Festival in Ljubljana. In addition, he appears in the Leading European Composer series at the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C.

The Curtis Institute of Music educates and trains exceptionally gifted young musicians for careers as performing artists on the highest professional level. One of the world's leading conservatories, Curtis provides its 165 students with full-tuition scholarships and personalized attention from a celebrated faculty. The school's distinctive "learn by doing" approach has produced an impressive number of notable artists since its founding in 1924. Curtis alumni hold principal chairs in every major American orchestra, and each season they are featured as guest soloists with the world's leading orchestras, opera houses, and chamber music series.

Curtis's innovative programs encourage students to perform often and hone 21st-century musical skills, and the school's facilities offer superb spaces for music-making as well as state-of-the-art technologies to enhance learning. Students perform internationally with Curtis On Tour in addition to more than 150 performances in and around Philadelphia each year. When they graduate, they become musical leaders, making a profound impact on music around the globe.

To explore the eighth blackbird residency at Curtis, visit

Curtis 20/21 with eighth blackbird and Matthias Pintscher
Saturday, December 8 at 8 p.m.
Sunday, December 9 at 3 p.m.

Gould Rehearsal Hall, Lenfest Hall, 1616 Locust Street, Philadelphia

Matthias Pintscher, conductor
Nathaniel West, double bass
Tim Munro, flute
Juyong You, clarinet
Luosha Fang, violin
Tessa Seymour, cello
Lisa Kaplan, piano
Andrew Hsu, piano

BERIO Tempi concertati
PINTSCHER on a clear day
PINTSCHER Verzeichnete Spur
SCHOENBERG Chamber Symphony No.1, op.9 (Kammersymphonie)

Free; no tickets required.

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