Duke Performances

eighth blackbird & Will Oldham (a.k.a. Bonnie “Prince” Billy)

Saturday, May 6, 2017 | 8:00 pm

Baldwin Auditorium

Twenty years into its extraordinary run, eighth blackbird is still “one of the smartest, most dynamic contemporary classical ensembles on the planet” (Chicago Tribune). This sextet is a busy commissioner of new works from today’s most gifted composers. They share the stage with the singular Will Oldham, who writes and performs sparse, revelatory songs as his musical alter ego Bonnie “Prince” Billy. The New Yorker called Oldham “an uncanny troubadour, singing a sort of transfigured country music.”

eighth blackbird opens the concert with two works originally written for them, including Nico Muhly’s Doublespeak and the folk-song-inspired Murder Ballades by Bryce Dessner of The National. Oldham, an erstwhile actor,  joins the sextet to narrate Coming Together, Frederic Rzewksi’s fantastically urgent setting of a letter from a prison inmate. They close the evening with  a set of Bonnie “Prince” Billy’s exquisite songs arranged for Oldham and eighth blackbird.



Nico Muhly: Doublespeak
Bryce Dessner: Murder Ballades
Frederic Rzewski: Coming Together feat. Will Oldham, aka Bonnie “Prince” Billy
Will Oldham: Selected songs feat. Will Oldham, aka Bonnie “Prince” Billy

Bonnie Prince Billy - Full Performance

(Live on KEXP)

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy is the prolific troubadour who makes minimalist country and folk music sung in a voice that is itself a character: wondering, knowing, it refuses to reveal the person behind the singer but only serves to enhance the mystery imbued in the music.

Chicago Sun-Times