National Endowment for the Arts provides $15,000 to help support Eugene Symphony's concert and residency with Eighth Blackbird, multi-Grammy Award-winning ensemble

Posted on May 10, 2018

EUGENE, OR (May 10, 2018)  National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu has approved more than $80 million in grants as part of the NEA’s second major funding announcement for fiscal year 2018. Included in this announcement is an Art Works grant of $15,000 to Eugene Symphony Association (ESA) to help support its 2018/19 concert and weeklong residency with the multi-Grammy Award-winning ensemble Eighth Blackbird. This project is also being supported by the Herbert A. Templeton Foundation. The project is designed to deepen audience appreciation for contemporary music; provide unique artistic development opportunities for students in area music programs; and promote ESA’s efforts to bring high-caliber music enrichment experiences to historically marginalized populations and nontraditional concert patrons.

The Art Works category is the NEA’s largest funding category and supports projects that focus on the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and/or the strengthening of communities through the arts.

“The variety and quality of these projects speaks to the wealth of creativity and diversity in our country,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “Through the work of organizations such as Eugene Symphony in Eugene, Oregon, NEA funding invests in local communities, helping people celebrate the arts wherever they are.”

About Eighth Blackbird
A multi-Grammy Award-winning ensemble, Eighth Blackbird is “one of the smartest, most dynamic contemporary classical ensembles on the planet” (Chicago Tribune) and has earned its status as “a brand-name…defined by adventure, vibrancy and quality….” (Detroit Free Press). Launched by six entrepreneurial Oberlin Conservatory undergraduates in 1996, this Chicago-based group includes Nathalie Joachim, flutes; Michael J. Maccaferri, clarinets; Yvonne Lam, violin and viola; Nick Photinos, cello; Matthew Duvall, percussion; Lisa Kaplan, piano.

The residency with Eighth Blackbird includes:

  • On November 15, 2018, ESA’s Pacific Northwest premiere of Jennifer Higdon’s concerto “On a Wire” (2010), originally written for Eighth Blackbird and orchestra, as part of ESA’s 2018/19 subscription season.
  • A pre-concert lecture featuring the guest artists for the general public.
  • A Laura Avery Visiting Masters master class with select chamber ensembles from University of Oregon (UO) School of Music and Dance. The event will be free and open to the public.
  • Lectures/discussions for student performers and composers from UO and Springfield’s Academy of Arts and Academics (grades 9–12).
  • An open Eighth Blackbird rehearsal, to be held at an informal accessible music venue specifically designed to reach low-income audiences.
  • An ESA/Eighth Blackbird dress rehearsal to include attendance by members of Eugene-Springfield Youth Orchestras.
  • A lecture/demonstration for high school students in one of Eugene’s surrounding rural communities (Elmira High School, Fern Ridge School District).
  • Private lectures/demonstrations for clients at two local human service agencies, Willamette Family (residential and outpatient alcohol and drug addiction treatment) and HIV Alliance (low-income persons living with HIV/AIDS).

The concert on November 15, 2018 is titled Birds of a Feather. “I love to find connections between music written centuries apart,” says Music Director & Conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong. “This program has two – ‘ensemble concertos’ by Bach and Higdon, and ‘street music’ by Mozart and Bernstein.” The complete program and a description is: 

Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 3
Jennifer Higdon: On a Wire
Mozart: Six German Dances, K.571
Bernstein: Fancy Free 

The multi-Grammy-winning ensemble Eighth Blackbird joins the Eugene Symphony with a concerto written especially for them by Jennifer Higdon, one of today’s most vital composers. An early work that helped launch his career, Bernstein’s ballet Fancy Free concludes our exploration honoring his 100th anniversary. Full of the sounds of street-corner jazz, bustling cafes, and crowded sidewalks, it’s a beautiful ode to his home of New York City.

Tickets for this concert are currently available to full- or partial-season subscribers. Single tickets will be available to the public on August 7. Learn more at or through the Hult Center Ticket Office (541-682-5000) Tues. – Fri. from 12 – 5 p.m. or Sat. 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

For more information on projects included in the NEA grant announcement, visit                                  

For questions and to schedule interviews, contact Marketing Director Lindsey McCarthy or 541-687-9487 x106.

About Eugene Symphony Currently in its 52nd season, the Eugene Symphony is a nonprofit and 83-member orchestra based in Eugene, Oregon. Led by Music Director & Conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong, Eugene Symphony reaches more than 50,000 adults and children annually with live music performances. Recognized as a cornerstone of the performing arts in Oregon's southern Willamette Valley, Eugene Symphony pursues its mission of enriching lives through the power of music by presenting annual classical and pops concerts, as well as music education and community engagement programs, regularly commissioning and premiering new American works, and disseminating its performances via radio broadcasts and recordings. More at                                                                                             ###