The Blackbird Creative Lab

The Lab’s mission is to inspire the next generation of performers and composers to share in the ensemble’s vision: to champion a distinctive, dynamic and engaging performance aesthetic.  This intensive, human-centered experience will immerse lab fellows in a learn-by-doing, exploratory process of creating new work. By discovering and developing an audacious curatorial vision, lab fellows will be launched on their paths as provocateurs and visionaries in the arts.

Lab Activities

The Lab brings together a number of artists and resources for an intense two-week immersion.

  • 30 Fellows – 24 instrumentalists and 6 composers — will be invited to participate each year based on their talent, technical proficiency, ability to communicate, personality, curiosity and creativity.
  • 9 Faculty – The 6 members of Eighth Blackbird will be joined by 2 professional composers and 1 choreographer/director at the top of their field.
  • Guest Artists – Periodic and ongoing visits by creative experts in a diverse array of fields will added based on the selected fellows’ creative project proposals.
  • Key Partners – Facilities and community connections will be provided that allow The Lab to achieve its lofty artistic, educational and audience engagement goals.

Over the course of the two-week experience, fellows will participate in:

  • Coaching Sessions – Daily two-hour sessions led by faculty and guests
  • Salon Hours – Gatherings before dinner for informal performances, cocktails and other non-musical activities
  • Guest Lectures – Structured and unstructured opportunities to talk about a variety of musical and professional development topics with faculty and guests
  • Individual Practice – Time for fellows to practice and study on their own
  • Performances – Two culminating public performances to be captured on video

Educational Approach

Our learn-by-doing approach, developed over many years as resident artists at the finest conservatories and music schools across the country, is based upon five core values:

  1. unquestioned quality
  2. pervasive innovation
  3. intense work ethic
  4. genuine informality
  5. bold openness

To prepare today’s most promising young performers and composers to develop a unique curatorial vision, Eighth Blackbird will infuse their preparation process and performing aesthetic into every interaction, taking fellows through a rigorous series of steps and critical questions:

  1. choose repertoire
  2. prepare
  3. imagine
  4. perform
  5. learn/refine

Lab Goals

The Lab has four goals for fellows at the individual level:

  1. Develop artist-entrepreneur skills
  2. Develop performance and production skills
  3. Understand the Big Picture: art as product, curation, and branding
  4. Instill a sense of responsibility to cultivate and foster future generations of artists

Performances of the fellows’ compositions and other works will occur at the close of every two-week Lab. Pending faculty evaluation, exceptional work created at The Lab may be cultivated for further technical and production development with the goal of realizing additional performances and other professional opportunities, which may be full programs or additions to existing Eighth Blackbird events. By staying actively engaged with the composers, performers and ensembles from The Lab after the program is concluded, Eighth Blackbird will continue a formal mentor relationship with the most promising fellows as they transition to professional life.

Why Now?

The world of live music performance is changing, and artists face big challenges in considering the future for themselves and for classical music.  As the public’s cultural tastes diffuse and more entertainment options surface, musicians who rely on attendance are under growing pressure to find creative ways to connect with audiences so that they and the canon of repertoire they perform remain relevant.

Our vision for the Blackbird Creative Lab is to have a systemic impact on a local, national and international level. Adding new compositions to the body of modern music is just the tip of the iceberg. Through the work of fellows and alumni, we not only want to generate public participation in and excitement for the brands, visions and products of our fellowsbut also build community connectedness and collective openness to different issues and perspectives. By increasing the number of artists who make a difference, we can elevate performance experiences everywhere and inspire a great many others to be creative in their own lives and work.