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eighth blackbird Reveal April Performances at Big Ears Festival

By Philip Trapp on Mar 18, 2016 07:23 PM EDT

Grammy-winning sextet eighth blackbird have announced a second concert at this year's Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, TN. The Chicagoan contemporary classical group will be joined by special guests for their April 1 performance on the festival's "The Sanctuary" stage.

Alongside other of the festival's performances from artists such as Andrew Bird and Yo La Tengo, eighth blackbird's first set will actually be earlier that day. The group will present a special collaboration with Bryce Dessner (The National) and Bonnie "Prince" Billy at 7:00 p.m. at the Tennessee Theatre, followed by the aforementioned "The Sanctuary" headlining performance at 10:00 p.m. (along with the unannounced "special surprise guests").

Big Ears has been a Knoxville staple since its first festival in 2009. Combining music, art and film, the celebration is one of the most unique events in the country. As described on the festival's website, eighth blackbird is an established and diverse addition to the concert lineup

"eighth blackbird's 'super-musicians' (Los Angeles Times) combine the finesse of a string quartet, the energy of a rock band, and the audacity of a storefront theater company. The Chicago-based, four-time Grammy Award-winning sextet celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2016: two decades spent performing for audiences across the country and around the world with impeccable precision and a signature style."

The unique art music combo have been entertaining audiences since 1996, initially forming at university and participating in numerous high-profile albums and collaborations since (including the Grammy-winning Filament album and performances with Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche). As former flautist Tim Munro explained to the UMS Lobby, the band initially came together at the behest of an experimental conductor seeking to explore and challenge the "new music" genre:

"To speak about the instrumentation first, eighth blackbird was sort of a put-together group. At the Oberlin conservatory, this conductor, Jim Weiss, put the group together to play more challenging repertoire, stuff that isn't normally covered in the run of conservatory conductor. And this instrumentation seemed like the perfect kaleidoscope in everything."

Should you find yourself in Tennessee this April Fools' Day, don't miss these eagerly anticipated performances from eighth blackbird and their assortment of high-caliber musical guests. 

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