Chicago's eighth blackbird brings risk-taking fun to classical music

Jan 15, 2015

In their 19th year, the members of eighth blackbird are still finding ways to innovate.
Credit Luke Ratray

Contemporary classical music sometimes gets a bad rap – from both classical music purists and a broader audience not used to music that doesn’t always follow a melody. But among the genre’s fans, eighth blackbird is considered a fearless and innovative ensemble. They’ve been rewarded with three Grammy awards.

The six members of eighth blackbird came together at Oberlin Conservatory in 1996. A couple of its members have changed over the years but the group’s focus on exploring musical boundaries has not.

“I would say we all tend toward the theatrical and we all really love taking risks,” said pianist and founding member Lisa Kaplan.

The Chicago-based sextet landed in northern Michigan this week to work with students at the Interlochen Arts Academy. IPR’s Aaron Selbig spoke with members of eighth blackbird about their unique sound and how the worlds of indie rock and contemporary classical music are starting to come together.