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marathon SOUNDTRACK: EIGHTH BLACKBIRD-Tiny Desk Concert #528 (May 2, 2016).

8thEighth Blackbird is described as a “new music ensemble” from Chicago.  That means they play classical music that is new and “different.”  The sextet says that looking at each other–being able to communicate–is essential for playing these complex pieces, which calls for an interesting arrangement behind the Tiny Desk.

The first piece is actually two pieces called “Wave the Sea” and “Brushy Fork” from a suite called Murder Ballads by Bryce Dessner (better known as being in The National) .  The piece opens with a flute solo by newest member Nathalie Joachim, and then some complex series of notes and timings from the rest of the band–this is cerebral music that you must really pay attention to.

“Pulse,” from Robert Honstein’s three-movement Conduit is a much more gentle piece, far less frenetic and more mellow. It opens with Matthew Duvall’s vibraphone, Yvonne Lam’s violin, Lisa Kaplan’s piano and Michael J. Maccaferri’s clarinet which all seem to get added in one at a time until it is all just one consistent piece.  Nicholas Photinos’ cello offers some low end while the flute seems to float above the whole piece.  The song seems like it could just keep going forever as a very slow, beautiful round.

The final piece is by David Lang (an artist they have played for many years).  “learn to fly” returns to that frenetic tempo of the first piece .  Opening with wild syncopated piano notes (it looks impossible to play) and added to by the flute, clarinet and cello.  And just when you think the whole piece will remain in this style of complex syncopation, a violin solo bursts forth and soars for a few bars before returning to the melody.

I don’t listen to a lot of classical music, but I really enjoyed this Concert a lot.

[READ: March 1, 2016] Marathon

While overall I have really enjoyed the First Second books that I’ve read, this one I found really confusing and not exactly enjoyable.

The story begins in 490 BC.  Unbelievably it says the temperature is 106 degrees Fahrenheit (but sure, why not).  A man is running from Athens to Sparta (distance 153 miles).  Then there’s the confusing title: Athens: Twelve Years ago. Which I assume means 12 years before 490 BC–where we see some young boys racing.  Eucles won the race.  It is shocking to everyone that he is the son of a slave.  The slave defeated the Kings “own bastard son Phillipus.”   And so the King cuts off Phillipus’ head.

When he fails a test shortly thereafter, Eucles’ parents are executed.

Yup it’s that kind of story.

The king is Hippias.  He is exiled soon after the events of 12 years ago. (more…)

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