eighth blackbird and Michael Ward-Bergeman at Millennium Park

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The Loops and Variations concert series at Millennium Park usually features a contemporary classical act ┬áas well as another artist playing electronic music. Last week, on June 19,┬áthere was just one set, but it was varied enough to fit the concept. One of┬áChicago’s best new-music ensembles, eighth blackbird, had the whole show to itself ÔÇö but with a guest musician sitting in on several pieces, composer-accordionist┬áMichael Ward-Bergeman. The evening started with his beautiful composition “Barbeich,” which blended the lyricism of Argentine accordionist┬áRa├║l Barboza with the subtly shifting patterns┬áof Steve Reich’s minimalism.

Ward-Bergeman left the stage for a while as eighth blackbird played┬áBryce Dessner’s “Murder Ballades” suites followed by a set of works by Richard Parry, Claudio Monteverdi, Carlo Gesualdo and Bon Iver. Then he was back to play ÔÇö and sing ÔÇö the final three songs, as the eighth blackbird sextet turned itself into a New Orleans party band, performing “Mardi Gras,” “St. James Infirmary” and “Mississippi.”

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