Ensemble Bio

 

Octarium is an exceptionally talented ensemble with stunning voices, synergy and stage presence to spare 

Lee Hartman - KC Metropolis

 

 

The vocal octet Octarium, based in Kansas City, has gained a national reputation for performances suffused with what composer Morton Lauridsen called, “stunning artistry combined with an absolutely beautiful blending of voices.” Composer Stephen Hatfield raves, “Octarium’s ability to change the nuance of their tone and timbre without disrupting the flow of the music enables them to pack their performances with riches without ever over-reaching for their effects.” At each presentation, Octarium offers the polished choral sonority and embodiment of the philosophy, “Eight Singers, One Voice” for which the ensemble has become well-known and respected.


Founded in 2003, Octarium strives always for a purity of choral sound and creativity of programing. The group's repertoire includes the standards of choral literature, the classics of the sacred cannon, and an eclectic mix of new music and a cappella arrangements of secular songs originally composed as orchestral symphonies, operatic overtures, and music from Broadway shows and pop songs.

 

The group has produced four finely-crafted recordings. The self-titled debut  was released in 2006. Hodie (2007) is a selection of sacred and secular holiday music. Essentials (2008) is a collection of a cappella music all lovers of the choral art should know. Essentials is designed for students who are learning to love the art as well as former students who want to be reminded how beautiful choral music can be. Modern Masters (2009) includes music of living composers chosen for Octarium by the composers themselves. Modern Masters was designed to highlight overlooked choral works and help them find their way into the choral music lexicon; find their way into history.


In 2012, Octarium produced Art Local, a visionary project that took its cue from the locavore trend that encourages people to eat local in order to support area farmers and to ensure that their food is as fresh as possible. Through Art Local, Octarium commissioned four new unaccompanied choral works from local composers and sponsored two student composer competitions. The resulting concert included nine premiers, the embodiment of fresh art.

 

Octarium was founded in 2003 by Krista Lang Blackwood, the current artistic director. As the director of choirs at a large Kansas City church, Blackwood hired eight section leaders to support her choral program in 2001. As the program developed, the section leaders formed an octet to provide music at special liturgies. As the octet rehearsed and performed together, a remarkable thing began to happen: musical synergy. The singers began to read each other’s minds; taking unplanned breaths together, phrasing identically and beautifully without discussing it first and creating impromptu choral dynamics in rehearsal and performance. This kind of artistry inspired Blackwood to expand beyond the walls of the church. Octarium produced a subscription season, performed at the national American Choral Directors Association convention and initiated an educational outreach program.


In recent years, Octarium has scaled back its subscription season. The group still performs each holiday season at selected venues in the Kansas City area. This holiday tradition has been confirmed through the 2015-2016 season. The group considers additional performances by special arrangement. Musically and professionally, Octarium continues to evolve, but it has never changed its vision and mission:

 

Octarium is Latin for “Eight as One,” and the name defines our mission: Eight Singers, One Choral Voice.

 

Octarium is committed to fostering and promoting the development and appreciation of the art of choral music through innovative and engaging programming, seeking to inspire, enlighten and educate.

 


As with all arts organizations, Octarium, a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is dependent on the generous support of patrons. Financial contributions provide opportunities to enhance community spirit and promote the arts at the local level. Octarium has also received grants from the Missouri Arts Council, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City, the Muriel McBrien Kaufmann Foundation, ArtsKC and the Martha Lee Cain Tranby Fund for Music Enrichment.