Repertoire takes flight of fancy on wings of eighth blackbird

Critic's Choice

Classical Music

January 26, 2003|By Tim Smith

I know noble accents

And lucid, inescapable rhythms;

But I know, too,

That the blackbird is involved

In what I know

Those lines by poet Wallace Stevens helped to provide a name for a sextet of musicians devoted to new music. They call themselves eighth blackbird -- all lower case, for added effect -- because that particular verse of Stevens' Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird happens to be the eighth. Got it?

The important thing is not the name, but the intent of this ensemble, which was founded in 1996 at the Oberlin Conservatory in Ohio and has been raising ear lobes ever since. Their repertoire represents a who's-who of the cutting edge, as listeners will discover this week when the multiple-award-winning group gives a concert in Washington.

The program is not just intriguing for whose music is included, but how it will be presented. The four works -- Powerless by Dennis DeSantis, Damaged Goods by Roshanne Etezady, In Another Man's Skin by Adam Silverman and Pharmakon by Ken Ueno -- will not be played as originally written; instead, the separate movements of each will be mixed up and interspersed with each other to create a kind of super-composition.

eighth blackbird will perform at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater, 2700 F. St. N.W., Washington. Tickets are $28. Call 202-467-4600 or 800-444-1324.

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