The Hill is Alive with the Sound of Music

Grammy Award-winning, Chicago-based ensemble Eighth Blackbird takes over campus in for second Blackbird Creative Lab.  

Eighth Blackbird, a Chicago-based, Grammy Award-winning ensemble, is holding its second two-week summer training program, known as Blackbird Creative Lab on campus.

Concert Showcase

Blackbird Creative Lab will culminate in a pair of concerts that are open to the public, 7:30 p.m. June 22-23 at Besant Hill School’s Zalk Theater, 8585 Ojai Santa Paula Road.

Concert tickets are available online via the Eighth Blackbird website:

The concerts offer audiences a chance to experience the fruits of the two-week session, and give the fellows an opportunity to test their work in a live performance.

Eighth Blackbird was made aware of Besant Hill School, a private boarding and day school in upper Ojai, through the Ojai Music Festival in 2013.

Lab musicians have created multiple rehearsal spaces in classrooms, theater spaces, atelier, and an outdoor amphitheater.

Fellows and faculty will live on the Besant Hill campus and partake in the gourmet cuisine provided by the school’s in-house chefs, including organic produce from the campus farm and fruit trees.

More than 200 musicians applied from around the world to participate in the lab. The 30 fellows selected attend tuition-free, from around the globe. The group includes  20 performers, six composers, 1 video artist and three ensembles.

It is a diverse group of musicians chosen for their “talent, technical proficiency, ability to communicate, personality, curiosity and creativity.”

The fellows will participate in a learn-by-doing, exploratory process of creating new work including developing a performance aesthetic, nurturing one’s curatorial vision, and building an entrepreneurial foundation.

In addition to Eighth Blackbird, the lab faculty includes composers Jennifer Higdon and Nico Muhly; director/choreographer Ros Warby.

Guest artists who will rotate through The Lab are visual artist Ann Hamilton, curator Kristy Edmunds, performance psychologist Dana Putnam Fonteneau, singer-songwriter Shara Nova and Ojai Music Festival Artistic Director and arts curator Tom Morris.

“For two decades, we’ve been preparing for the Eighth Blackbird Creative Lab. Since college we’ve been making, interpreting, and performing art; now we’re expanding our mission to embrace mentoring,” said percussionist Matthew Duvall.

“We want to share what we’ve learned and empower extraordinary emerging innovators to make, formulate, create, interpret, and perform. To inspire, and to be inspired by, the vanguard of this time,” he said.