As a singer in Octarium, preparation for Art Local has been both exciting and troublesome. There really is nothing better in our Octari-world than learning new music, which “forces” us to spend hours and hours with nine of the people that we love most. On the flip side, however, there really is nothing worse in our world than learning new music, frankly, because it’s really hard, and this program is, umm, “challenging”.
After the first weekend of rehearsals, fear was the overarching emotion. Fear that so much of the music wasn’t, at first glance, “Octarium-esque”. All the pieces were epic undertakings (we assume all the composers decided to give us their “best shot,” I mean who writes a choral soprano range from a low G to a high C???, and is that extended technique? We don’t do extended technique!) And, most challenging, how were we going to market this program. The only unifying threads were that the music is new and composed by people that live within a 25-mile radius of KC. No common theme in the poetry, genre, or styles, no story to tell, no programmable program for which Krista is rightly renowned. We kicked around ideas about marketing to area choral professionals (“come hear and pick a piece to take back to your own choir!”), composition students at the area schools (education, education, education!), but what about our faithful fans? Just warn that this wasn’t going to be the typical Octarium concert? This troubling question set me, as is my nature, to brooding, this time about how to make this concert relevant and exciting for everyone.
Like most musicians, I tend to have a soundtrack playing in my head at all times. A few weeks ago, whilst making beds, I was noodling through some Britten, comparing it to Faure’s Requiem and then to Mozart’s C Minor Mass. Then thunder struck when I realized, it’s all “art local”. At one point in time, every work we now call a masterpiece was ART LOCAL.
Prior to the invention of the recording industry and easy score publishing, people experienced brand new music regularly, mostly because that was the only way to experience any music. Patrons, for a variety of reasons, commissioned music and then would host a party or underwrite a concert. The composer would come play or conduct and the result was the new Mozart piano concerto or Beethoven symphony or Handel concerto grosso would be the talk of proverbial water cooler for the next several weeks. Can you imagine what it would’ve been like to be in the audience the first time Chopin’s nocturnes were played, or to be sitting in church hearing the kapelmeister’s version of O Sacred Head Now Wounded? Granted, it’s probably naive to believe that most music performed at that time was “new”, but there was a huge culture of new musical creation and it was all LOCAL. Cities took pride in and promoted their local talent, and people from all walks of life flocked to cities like Vienna, Mannheim and Paris, among others, to experience and participate in what was happening. ART LOCAL grew communities, enriched city coffers, and gave us, today, those “masterpieces” that most folks would drop serious cash on to see performed at the Kauffman.
So I’ve come to realize that our initial fears were unfounded. First of all, lest you worry, the music is all very “Octarium-esque”. There are thrilling and amazing moments (yes, the high C is one of them), and the gorgeous harmonies that you love to wrap yourself in are numerous. The collaboration with the composers has been amazing. The amount of personal investment by each singer is unprecedented. If for no other reason, you should come because it is simply going to be a great concert. I believe, however, that we can give you more than just a great concert. We encourage you, our faithful and ever supportive fans and audience to be a part of Octarium’s and Kansas City’s history. Octarium’s Art Local project is about as unique a presentation in the 21st century as you can find. This is an opportunity to grow our community, to enrich our lives, to take pride in your ART LOCAL.
P.S.- Bring a friend!
— Ashley Winters, soprano and founding member of Octarium
March 2, 2012
The State of Choral Music in an American Idol Age; A panel discussion with Art Local composers
Join Octarium Artistic Director and composers Rich Campbell, Ian Coleman, Robert Pherigo and Ingrid Stolzel for a lively discussion. Octarium will be in residence performing parts of the Art Local program. You don’t want to miss this very special look inside the Art Local process.
Kansas City Public Library
14 West 10th Street Kansas City, MO 64105
RSVP here (space is limited)
March 3, 2012
Art Local – The Concert
The current locavore trend encourages us to eat local, not only to support our local economies but to enjoy food that is fresh. With that in mind, we should also art local; support art being created in your own backyard; fresh art, new music. Octarium has commissioned four new unaccompanied choral works from local composers, as well as sponsored two student composer competitions and worked with two composer interns from local colleges. Come hear the fruit of our labor and the home-grown music!
Community Christian Church
4601 Main St
Kansas City, MO 64112