Eighth Blackbird

My guess is that in the future, it’ll become apparent that Arnold Schoenberg’s most lasting and significant contribution to music history was not the twelve-tone composition method he codified (which never became the lingua franca he envisioned), but his establishment of the “Pierrot ensemble”—the grouping of violin, cello, flute, clarinet, and piano he used in his 1912 work Pierrot lunaire, which has become the dominant template for contemporary chamber music. With or without percussion, it’s basically the 20th century’s answer to the string quartet. (Locally, Quake was an example, and the Seattle Chamber Players comprise the core of one.) At the top of the heap sits Chicago-based eighth blackbird, one of the most acclaimed and audience-friendly new-music groups around—thanks not only to their talent and energy but to their savvy Internet presence; just search their name on YouTube for several rehearsal and performance clips. They’ll perform tonight (music by Reich, Rzewski, and others) on a concert showcasing musicians from their alma mater, Ohio’s Oberlin Conservatory. GAVIN BORCHERT

Tue., Jan. 13, 7:30 p.m., 2009

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