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Midweek Picks: New-Music With Rappers, Dancers, Drama

By Alexander Hough in Arts & Entertainment on Mar 22, 2010 7:00PM

eighth blackbird (Photo by Luke Ratray)
Fulcrum Point and eighth blackbird, two leading ensembles of the Chicago new-music scene, will present multi-discipline, multi-genre concerts at the Harris Theater this week. To make it even more enticing, Wednesday's eighth blackbird show has cheap tickets available.

Tuesday - Fulcrum Point's "Heroes and Demons: Legends of Urban, Latin, and Native America"
Tomorrow night Fulcrum Point will premiere "Urban Legends" by composer-in-residence Randall Woolf. Woolf's music falls into the art-pop category that we waxed ambiguous about in our recent Corey Dargel preview, fusing classical music characteristics with rock, electronica, and rap. "Urban Legends" will feature four New York City-based artists, each rapping about a particular subject, ranging from flawed free markets to, according to the official press release, "a certain word and a renunciation of its supposed power" (What could it be? We're hoping it's "socialism").

The other multi-discipline work will be the American premiere of "Óox p'eel ikil t'aan (Three Poems)" by Mexican composer Hilda Paredes. The piece for trumpet (played by Fulcrum Point's founder and artistic director Stephen Burns), percussion, electronics, and tape will be accompanied by a new work called "Misplaced Flowers" by Luna Negra Dance Theater.

Other pieces on the program will be "Wintu Dream Song" and "Kukulkan II" by David Dzubay, and "Sulvasutra" by Evan Ziporyn, member of the new-music supergroup Bang on a Can All-Stars.

Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph, $30

Wednesday - eighth blackbird's "Slide"
eighth blackbird frequently infuses their performances with a visual element, a luxury allowed by their self-imposed Herculean task of total memorization of each concert's music. In December, 2009, they gave a staged performance of Arnold Schoenberg's "Pierrot Lunaire," but they're pushing this hybridization further with the original musical theater work "Slide," which has been on tour since its premiere in Richmond, Virginia, on March 3. "Slide" centers around a psychological experiment in which the subjects were asked to identify an image after it was brought into focus. Their response times increased when they had guessed what the image was while it was blurry, and became even longer when the subjects' answers were challenged. "Slide" uses this experiment's implications about our decision-making as the basis of an examination of the constant PR battle that's pervaded so many aspects of our society, from advertisement to politics. Actor and singer Rinde Eckert plays Renard, the psychologist heading the experiment. The rest of the cast will also be musical performers, with Steve Mackey, the work's composer, on guitar, as well as members of eighth blackbird.

Check out the trailer for "Slide" here, and if you're not sold already, grab today's Groupon for one half-priced ticket to Chicago's only scheduled performance.

Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph, $30, $15 with a Groupon