Reviews

 

[Masstiche] was one of the most moving musical experiences I’ve heard this season. ... Octarium demonstrated its mastery of the technical elements: superb vocal blends, contrasts in dynamics and tonal colors, a relaxed and engaging stage presence, and a dynamic involvement with the music that ignites the performance space. Beyond that, this was music-making to nourish the soul.

Gayle G. Hathorne

The Kansas City Star

 

 

Octarium continues to refine its sonority and musical profile, and its distinguished concert on November 14 and 15, Modern Masters, showed that the group is gaining heft with leading choral composers around the country as well.

Paul Horsley

The Independent Insider

 

 

Octarium is an exceptionally talented ensemble with stunning voices, synergy and stage presence to spare. There is no place to hide in this ensemble and the singers need not worry about that, as each is magnificent. Artistic director Krista Lang Blackwood certainly has created a tight ensemble of the highest caliber.

Lee Hartman

KC Metropolis

 

Take eight younger singers with decades of rigorous vocal and choral training, hone them to a razor-sharp blend and place them in a church with clean, resonant acoustics, and you have the formula for a sonority that is as luxurious as a Lexus, as rich as triple-chocolate cake, as eloquent as a Shakespeare sonnet. Then place in front of them some of the best choral music by prominent living American composers and you have Modern Masters, the latest project by the Kansas City-based choral ensemble Octarium.

Paul Horsley

The Independent Insider

 

 

Octarium has a very, very beautiful, cultivated, musicianly sound, which is lovingly recorded here. The choir overall has a wonderfully mixed, organ-like blend--the men in particular---and they make the silences as absorbing as the phrases.
                                                                            Mark Adamo

                                                                                     composer - Pied Beauty

 

Octarium has captured the essence of my piece with unerring accuracy and unfailing sensitivity. This is a recording to savor, a recording to give and a recording by which to judge other recordings. Brava!

Daniel Gawthrop

composer - Sing Me to Heaven

 

Competition was fierce this year for the best of 2008, for one simple reason: Kansas City’s culture remains on such an upward trajectory that it’s not out of line to say this might have been the city’s best-ever year for classical music and dance. I mean ever, as in, during Our Town’s 155-year history. Whoa, baby. So here are my choices for the concerts this year that made me feel alive again.

12. Octarium, the eight-voice a cappella group, gets better each year. Their concert this October at Visitation Church “showed off the meticulous blend and fresh, youthful sonority that the group has become known for,” as I wrote in these pages of the group led by artistic director Krista Lang Blackwood. Especially beautiful were movements from William Byrd’s Mass for Four Voices and Samuel Barber’s spine-chilling Agnus Dei, a choral version of the famous Adagio for Strings.

Paul Horsley

The Independent Insider

 

 

The combination of Visitation Catholic Church and Octarium might seem to be a meeting of opposites, with the intimacy of the eight-voice chamber ensemble in such a large, open space. The venue turned out to be a wonderful place for listening to Octarium's beautiful singing, with the near perfection of their latest recording now reproduced in a live performance ... Krista Lang Blackwood's singers' work was secure and impassioned, ranging from delicate intimacy to the grandiloquent breadth that of the larger pieces called for, the essential sound of Octarium one of almost perfect balance.  Make no mistake; this is a Kansas City ensemble of national stature, joining the justly illustrious Kansas City Chorale in the message that this city's choral moment seems to be arriving.

Arnold Epley

Present Magazine - KCMetropolis

 

Octarium ... gets better every time I hear it.  The ensemble’s concert Friday at Visitation Church showed off the meticulous blend and fresh, youthful sonority that the group has become known for ... Maurice Durufle’s "Ubi Caritas" sounded ravishingly beautiful, and except for the faint whisper of the church’s air units it was extraordinary how audible and warm the super-pianissimos sounded — not blanched-out, but with real fiber and substance. Equally impressive was the male fortissimos of the Rachmaninoff Vespers excerpt, which was muscular without sounding forced. William Byrd’s “Sanctus-Benedictus” from the Mass for Four Voices was captivating for the continuity of the successive entrances — so impressive, in fact, that I found myself wishing they’d just go ahead and sing the whole mass ... They also excelled in light-hearted works like Josquin dez Prez’s "El Grillo" and Orazio Vecchi’s "Fa Una Canzona," which were suave and convincing while avoiding cutesiness ... this was a fine concert ... capped by one of the most beautifully gauged renderings of Samuel Barber’s "Agnus Dei" you’re likely to hear. It’s an a cappella choral arrangement, by Barber himself, of the famous Adagio for Strings, and once you’ve heard it sung like this you might never go back to the over-performed string version.

Paul Horsley

The Independent Insider

 

The “Holidays With Octarium” concert Thursday was an artistic watershed, sung with breathless unity, polish and meticulously crafted balance.  If they can continue on this trajectory, we might find Octarium (Latin for “eight as one”) becoming a plausible rival for the Grammy-nominated Kansas City Chorale ... this was refined ensemble work, and I couldn’t help wondering whether Kansas City is entering some sort of Era of Great Choral Singing.

                                                                                           

Paul Horsley

The Kansas City Star

 

I have worked closely with Krista Blackwood, the Founder and Artistic Director of Octarium, for several years and find her to be a visionary leader with great artistic integrity and passion for the mission of one of the finest vocal groups in the Midwest. From the selection of singers, and the perfectionism of their performances, the imagination of the programs, their reach into this community has been unique and special ...

                                                   

Cynthia Siebert

Founder, The Friends of Chamber Music

 

The eight members of Octarium go beyond raising their voices together in song; their voices warp and weave together, coalescing as a single instrument of tremendous power and depth. Octarium wields this might gracefully, never overpowering, opting instead to revel in the pliancy of the human voice. The result is a shared voice that's rooted in the lower register but can soar to ethereal heights. Bound together this way, the group reflects the strength of community.

Paul Friswold

River Front Times


Thank you for your new CD with its wonderful interpretation of PILGRIMS' HYMN and your sensitive singing of all of the works on the recording. It is a lovely addition to our library of recorded music and is liable to win you many new friends.

Stephen Paulus

composer


I hear my Kyrie and Agnus Dei as if for the first time. 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.

Stephen Hatfield

composer


What gorgeous performances of my O Magnum Mysterium and Madrigali — stunning artistry combined with an absolutely beautiful blending of voices. Bravo, Octarium!

Morten Lauridsen

composer


… a delicate and richly sophisticated choral sonority …

Paul Horsley

Kansas City Star


… a complete sense of togetherness to the eye and ear …

Rachel Hunter

Kansas Public Radio


Octarium is a surprise, a delight and a wonderful fresh presence on the choral music scene: beautiful voices, stylish singing, bursting with craft and vitality — an immaculate vocal chamber ensemble of soloists.

Simon Carrington

Founding member of the King's Singers

 


Octarium possesses a freshness and clarity of tone and amazing ESP. Their voices radiate the joy of each other’s company and then pass that joy on to the audience...

Stephen Hatfield

composer