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Composer, singer, bandleader and recording artist TED HEARNE (b.1982, Chicago) draws on a wide breadth of influences ranging across music’s full terrain, to create intense, personal and multi-dimensional works.
The New York Times has praised Mr. Hearne for his “tough edge and wildness of spirit,” and “topical, politically sharp-edged works.” Pitchfork called Hearne’s work “some of the most expressive socially engaged music in recent memory — from any genre,” and Alex Ross wrote in The New Yorker that Hearne’s music “holds up as a complex mirror image of an information-saturated, mass-surveillance world, and remains staggering in its impact.”
Hearne’s Sound From the Bench, a cantata for choir, electric guitars and drums setting texts from U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments and inspired by the idea of corporate personhood, was a finalist for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize.
Hearne most recently collaborated with poet Saul Williams and director Patricia McGregor to create Place, a fiery meditation on the topic of gentrification and displacement, through music. Commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, The Barbican Centre and Beth Morrison Projects, and scored for 18 instrumentalists and 6 vocalists, Place was premiered to critical acclaim in October 2018 in Fall 2018 the BAM Next Wave Festival. “‘Place’ takes shape in songs that emerge like a graffiti mural as repetitive gestures gradually bloom into vibrant, brash statements in high-volume color. The six singers bring with them deep familiarity with diverse vocal styles… but it was impossible to ignore the presence of the real Mr. Hearne at his command post conducting the musicians, manipulating the sound and driving the auto-da-fé of his own orchestration… It always felt as if Hearne was questioning his own comfort and — in the final moment — his own power” (The New York Times).
Hearne’s oratorio The Source sets text from the Iraq and Afghanistan War Logs, along with words by Chelsea Manning (the U.S. Army private who leaked those classified documents to WikiLeaks), and was premiered to rave reviews at the 2014 BAM Next Wave Festival. The New York Times called The Source “a 21st Century masterpiece,” and included it on its list of the best classical vocal performances of 2014 and best albums of 2015, noting that the work “offers a fresh model of how opera and musical theater can tackle contemporary issues: not with documentary realism, but with ambiguity, obliquity, and even sheer confusion.” During the 2016-17 season, the original production of The Source (directed by Daniel Fish) was presented by both the LA Opera and San Francisco Opera.
Hearne’s piece Katrina Ballads, another modern-day oratorio with a primary source libretto, was awarded the 2009 Gaudeamus Prize in composition and was named one of the best classical albums of 2010 by Time Out Chicago and The Washington Post. A recent collaboration paired him with legendary musician Erykah Badu, for whom he wrote an evening-length work combining new music with arrangements of songs from her 2008 album New Amerykah: Part One.
Law of Mosaics, Hearne’s 30-minute piece for string orchestra, has been performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony and Los Angeles Philharmonic. His album of the same name, with Andrew Norman and A Far Cry, was named one of The New Yorker’s notable albums of 2014 by Alex Ross.
A charismatic vocalist, Hearne performs with Philip White as the vocal-electronics duo R WE WHO R WE, whose debut album (New Focus Recordings, 2013) was called “eminently, if weirdly, danceable and utterly gripping.” (Time Out Chicago). R WE’s sophomore release “I Love You” was named one of the Best Albums of 2017 by The Nation. Other recent albums of vocal music of various stripes include The Source and Outlanders (New Amsterdam Records) and The Crossing’s acclaimed recording of Sound From the Bench (Cantaloupe Music).
Ted Hearne was awarded the 2014 New Voices Residency from Boosey and Hawkes, and is a member of the composition faculty at the University of Southern California. Ted’s many collaborators include poets Dorothea Lasky and Jena Osman, visual artists Sanford Biggers and Rachel Perry, directors Daniel Fish and Patricia McGregor, and filmmakers Bill Morrison and Jonathan David Kane, and his works have been conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, John Adams and Gustavo Dudamel. Recent and upcoming commissions include orchestral works for the San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, New World Symphony, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and A Far Cry, chamber works for Eighth Blackbird, Ensemble dal Niente and Alarm Will Sound, and vocal works for Conspirare, The Crossing and Roomful of Teeth.
Nick Photinos, cellist, is a founding member of the four-time Grammy Award-winning chamber music ensemble Eighth Blackbird. Formed in 1996, the group has performed throughout the world and was featured at the 2013 Grammy Awards, on CBS’s Sunday Morning, Bloomberg TV, and in the New York Times. They were Musical America’s Ensemble of the Year for 2017 and recipients of the inaugural Chamber Music America Visionary Award in 2016. In June 2017 Eighth Blackbird launched the annual Blackbird Creative Lab, a tuition-, room- and board- free chamber music festival. The ensemble currently holds an ongoing Ensemble-in-Residence position at the University of Richmond. As a solo artist, Nick has performed and recorded with rock stars Björk, Wilco, Autumn Defense; jazz artists including Sheila Jordan, Laurence Hobgood, Zach Brock, and Matt Ulery; and has been a member of the Canton and Columbus Symphony Orchestras and the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra. He teaches at the Bang on a Can Summer Festival every July in North Adams, MA. He has recorded for numerous labels including the Cedille, Nonesuch, Greenleaf, and Naxos labels. His debut solo album, Petits Artéfacts, was released on the New Amsterdam label in Fall 2017. For more information, go to nickphotinos.com.
Percussionist John Corkill is a passionate advocate for the development, process, and creation of new artistic works that provide accessibility to the public at large. He is currently serving as the percussionist for the University of Chicago’s Grossman Ensemble, an ensemble-in-residence at the University’s Center for Contemporary Composition comprised of 13 of the nation’s leading new music specialists. In similar capacities, he has collaborated with groups such as Third Coast Percussion, Eighth Blackbird, and Ensemble Dal Niente. He has also appeared on the Chicago Symphony’s MusicNOW Series as well as the Chamber Music Northwest, Norfolk, and Yellow Barn Festivals. Currently, John is serving as the curator for Fulcrum Point New Project’s Aux In: Connected! performance series. John currently serves the Lecturer of Percussion at the University of Chicago as well as the Percussion Ensemble Director at Loyola University. John received his Bachelor of Music from Northwestern University where he graduated cum laude and Master of Music Degree from the Yale University School of Music. His teachers include Robert van Sice, Michael Burritt, and James Ross.
Grammy-winning violinist Yvonne Lam enjoys challenging, delighting, and disarming audiences worldwide with her thoughtful musicianship, technical prowess, and fearless performance aesthetic. As a co-artistic director of Eighth Blackbird for eight years, Yvonne performed around 50 concerts a year internationally, and has performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Melbourne Symphony, the Kansas City Symphony, the Cincinnati Symphony, the Lexington Philharmonic, the New World Symphony, and the Tasmanian Symphony. She has recorded three albums with Eighth Blackbird, including the Grammy-winning album Filament. In 2017, she co-founded the Blackbird Creative Lab, an intensive tuition-free training program for performers and composers in Ojai, California, as a way to inspire future generations of artists to share in Eighth Blackbird’s vision of championing new work and engaging audiences with innovative and dynamic performance. In addition to teaching and mentoring at the Blackbird Creative Lab, Yvonne has given lessons, masterclasses and lectures at universities throughout the US in addition to long-term residency activities at the Curtis Institute of Music, the University of Chicago, and the University of Richmond.Yvonne has lived in every major city on the east coast except Boston, and spent eight years in Chicago. She now lives with her husband and two sons in East Lansing, where she is an Assistant Professor of Violin Performance at Michigan State University.