In the often vague and ever-evolving music genre known as contemporary classical, it's both easy and hard to make your mark. On the one hand, just about anything weird enough will get you attention. On the other, you've got to do more than just be weird in order to be taken seriously. Eighth Blackbird is in the latter category. CClassically trained and irresistibly off the wall, the Blackbirds have won worldwide critical admiration and honors -- two Grammys, the Naumberg Grand Prize and the American Music Center's Trailblazer Award. Performing on just about anything from toy pianos to car brake drums, they're known for their humorous, theatrical performances in which music meets poetry meets pop culture meetsâ¦well, meat, as in New York composer' Marc Mellits' Spam, a "fun, funky homage" to the iconic processed food. Or mood swings, as in Donald Crockett's alternately blithe and brooding Whistling in the Dark. You can hear these and other new music gems this weekend, when Eighth Blackbird culminates its four-day residency at USC's Thornton School with a concert that promises the unexpected. As one of their members puts it, "Part of the excitement is we're never sure where we're going to end up."
Fri., Oct. 16, 7 p.m., 2009