Eighth Blackbird asked the students to leave their stands and sheet music behind, and instead, walk around or change positions while playing. They talked about the importance of stepping back, listening to each other, and changing the piece in the moment as a reaction to those around them.
“As much as the piece is written on paper, we create a new version of it every time we play, due to the loose structure of the piece — something I haven't gotten in other ensembles I've been part of,” said Lashonda Love ’18. “Eighth Blackbird had great advice on how to think more outside of the box for ‘In C,’ which has definitely invited more play and exploration into our group rehearsals.”
“Since the sheet music serves as a guide for the performer rather than a comprehensive dictation of the composer's intent, I’m learning to engage this opportunity of artistic freedom and take new musical risks,” added Max Meirow ’18. “Eighth Blackbird offered suggestions that we're excited to try out over the next few rehearsals.”
Although these students don’t necessarily intend to be composers themselves, they believe their time with Eighth Blackbird was influential in understanding the compositional side of music.
“Compositionally, working with Eighth Blackbird has been incredibly enlightening, because they’re all extremely enthusiastic about the great variety of new music and encouraged me to expand my boundaries as far as possible, both in terms of listening and conducting,” said Clem Pearson ’20.
During their time on campus, Eighth Blackbird also visited a music composition class, where students had the opportunity to hear their work played by the group. In an Organizational Psychology class, they shared insight into business strategy and aspects of their business model.
“Being able to learn from an ensemble like Eighth Blackbird is an opportunity that undergraduate music students don’t often get,” said Pearson, “The opportunities to work with incredible professional ensembles (including ETHEL) is one of the things that makes Denison a really excellent place for young composers.”