eighth blackbird Returns to Baylor for Another Unconventional String Performance

  • eighth blackbird
    eighth blackbird, from left to right: Michael J. Maccaferri, clarinets; Tim Munro, flutes; Yvonne Lam, violin & viola; Matthew Duvall, percussion; Lisa Kaplan, piano; Nicholas Photinos, cello. (Courtesy photo)
  • blackbird
    eighth blackbird performs a cabaret-opera version of "Pierrot Lunaire." (Courtesy photo)
Jan. 24, 2014

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Media contact: Terry Goodrich, (254) 710-3321

WACO, Texas (Jan. 24, 2013) - What do you get when you mix a string quartet, a rock band and a theater performance troupe? eighth blackbird.

This Chicago-based sextet, which defines itself on its website as "zap, zip, sock," is coming to Baylor University for the second time in six years on Tuesday, Jan. 28.

Their performance marks the third of four performances in this year's Distinguished Artist Series, which was created "to bring the world's top musical artists for the Baylor and Waco community without the need for our students and community to travel," said Randy Umstead, Ph.D., chair of the division of vocal studies in the School of Music.

eighth blackbird - the group purposely keeps its name lowercase - got its name from the eighth stanza of Wallace Steven's poem, "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird." The group performs across the globe and has won three Grammy Awards.

That makes them pretty special in the classical world, said Todd Meehan, D.M.A., assistant professor of percussion in the School of Music. "Not too many groups who play modern music can claim that they did the same thing."

The group's performances are unlike traditional "cold or distant" classical performances, he said. The members commit the pieces to memory so they are free to move about the stage and perform with their bodies as well as their instruments, rather than remain sedentary and read from a score.

"If you think about a traditional string or woodwind quartet, you picture them sitting in chairs in a semicircle," Meehan said. "I think it's a really fresh concert experience. It's different than what you'd normally expect or what you'd normally see in the Glennis McCrary Music Building. It catches people off guard, in a good way."

eighth blackbird will perform at 7:30 p.m. in the Glennis McCrary Music Building, 110 Baylor Ave. Tickets are $15 for general admission and $10 for Baylor faculty, staff and students. For ticket information, call the School of Music box office at 254-710-3571, or you may purchase tickets online at the School of Music website.

by Rachel Miller, student newswriter, (254) 710-6805


Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.


The Baylor University School of Music provides transformational experiences that prepare students for careers in music. Our students thrive in a Christian environment characterized by a nurturing resident faculty, an unwavering pursuit of musical excellence, a global perspective, dedication to service, and devotion to faith. They investigate the rich musical and cultural heritage of the past, develop superior musical skills and knowledge in the present, and explore and create new modes of musical expression for the future. While preparing for future leadership roles, the students join with School of Music faculty in enhancing the quality of community life, enriching the larger culture, and making Baylor a place in which heart, mind and soul coalesce. The School of Music of Baylor University is a member of the National Association of Schools of Music and the Texas Association of Music Schools. Degree programs leading to the bachelor of music education degree conform to certification requirements of the Texas Education Agency.

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