Stepping away from the mainstream

Contemporary ensemble `eighth blackbird' set to perform Saturday

March 22, 2000|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Candlelight Concerts stays comfortably in the mainstream of classical programming most of the time, offering the public a roster of gifted artists at work in the "meat and potatoes" segment of the classical repertoire.

That will change dramatically Saturday evening, as Candlelight presents "eighth blackbird," a remarkable contemporary music ensemble of six players known for adventurous programming and the intensity of their performances.

Molly Alicia Barth (flute), Michael Maccaferri (clarinet), Matthew Albert (violin and viola), Nicholas Photinos (cello), Matthew L. Duvall (percussion) and Lisa Kaplan (keyboards) founded eighth blackbird at Oberlin Conservatory in Ohio, and collectively hold an Artist Diploma in Chamber Music from the University of Cincinnati.

In 1998, the sextet became the first contemporary-music ensemble to win first prize at the Concert Artists Guild International Competition, where it was also awarded the Channel Classics Recording Prize. Since that time, the group has performed extensively at concert houses across America and Europe.

The group has caught the attention of modern composers, who delight in composing music to fit its distinctive sound. Three such works will be on the bill at Saturday's Rouse Theatre concert: David Schober's "Variations," Carlos Sanchez Guitierrez's "Luciernegas" and Thomas Albert's "Thirteen Ways."

The players also will perform "Awiroma" by Arturo Salinas and Donald Martino's "Notturno."

In addition to Columbia, eighth blackbird's 1999-2000 touring season takes it to Weill Recital Hall at New York's Carnegie Hall, the Morrison Artists Series in San Francisco and the Imagine! Music Festival at the University of Memphis.

The group's name, always spelled without capitals, comes from the Wallace Stevens poem, "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird."

Candlelight Concerts presents eighth blackbird in concert at 8 p.m. Saturday at Jim Rouse Theatre for the Performing Arts at Wilde Lake High School, 5460 Trumpeter Road, Columbia. Tickets are $24; $18 for senior citizens. Full-time students pay $9. Information and tickets: 410-715-0034 or 301-596-6203.

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