eighth blackbird play the Pritzker Pavilion tonight as part of Millennium Park’s ongoing Loops and Variations series. The last concert featured Ensemble Dal Niente and Deerhoof, which I was pretty stoked about. Tonight the sextet will perform some works from their previous programs, most prominently the Music of Less. I’ve seen them do Glass’ Music in Similar Motion twice but I have no doubts that it will be just as mesmerizing the third time around. They play the piece with a robotic virtuosity, using as little movement as possible in order to not distract themselves or their audience. By making themselves virtually static performers, the ensemble allows us to direct nearly all of our attention to the music. Whereas live performances often encourage musicians to “get into it”, when it comes to minimalism the goal is to get out of the way.
Unfortunately, one work that they won’t be repeating tonight is Andy Akiho’s ErAsE (see the video above) which won eighth blackbird’s first ever composition competition. This piece is definitely on my top five of the year so far. Tim Munro made a comment at the end of the Music of Less concert that minimalism is a musical movement which we are very much still experiencing. Composers like David Lang (also featured on tonight’s program) speak to that continuity in terms of where we’re at right now. But I think Akiho, who seems to mix elements of minimalism with a palette of endless influences and possibilities, is pointing to where that movement is headed next.