Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall

Eighth Blackbird with Bonnie “Prince” Billy

The centerpiece of the program by four-time Grammy Award winning sextet Eighth Blackbird is Murder Ballades, a work by composer Bryce Dessner. Best known as the guitarist for the indie rock band The National, he writes that “when Eighth Blackbird asked me for a piece, I immediately knew what to do: let great American folk music inspire a great American new music ensemble. The ‘murder ballad’ has its roots in a European tradition, in which grisly details of bloody homicides are recounted through song. When this tradition came to America, it developed its own vernacular, with stories and songs being told and retold over the generations. In Murder Ballades I reexamine several of these old songs, allowing them to inspire my own music.”

The music of singer songwriter Will Oldham, aka Bonnie “Prince” Billy, has been linked to Americana, folk, roots, country, punk, and indie rock, and Will himself has been described as an “Appalachian post punk solipsist” with a voice that is “a fragile sort of warble frittering around haunted melodies in the American folk or country tradition.” He joins the 'birds once again to perform a set of original songs, along with Frederic Rzewski's iconic Coming Together , a touchstone piece of classical music's young, underground, independently minded set. The text for this piece is taken directly from a letter written by Attica prison inmate Sam Melville in 1971, only months before the riots which he helped organized and that led to his death, and trace a descent from self control into madness.

“Their ability to synchronize in absolute lockstep was, in a word, amazing.” — Chicago Tribune

“The sextet Eighth Blackbird is simply the most exciting force for new music on the concert stage today.” —

Portland'5 welcomes Eight Blackbird with Bonnie "Prince" Billy to the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall on Wednesday, May 3, 201 at 7:30pm.

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