Oktopus is a major presence on the Canadian world music scene, with over 250 performances to its credit at home and abroad. The group is primarily devoted to klezmer—the musical heritage of Eastern European Jews—distinguished by a novel approach that incorporates various components of classical, Quebecois, and jazz repertoires.
The group’s eight virtuoso musicians offer festive, high-energy performances, at once melancholic and profound, sprinkled with humour and spiced with narrative, in which original compositions and finely crafted arrangements combine with improvisation. This ebullient, technically brilliant octet always gets the audience dancing for sheer joy. Its members’ complicity, shared passion, and hard work are what makes each of their performances so memorable—whether on stage, in the street, on a ship, in a hot air balloon or in your living room, Oktopus is simply… spectentacular!
Oktopus’ distinctive music is undeniably rooted in the klezmer tradition, reflecting the rich history of a thousand-year-old community, its persecutions and celebrations, tears and laughter, or both at the same time. Musicians of yesteryear incorporated in their repertoire the music they encountered on their journeys, and just like them, the members of Oktopus are inspired by the music they hear throughout their own travels. Thus, the melodies of several classical composers, such as Bartók, Brahms, Prokofiev or Enescu are rearranged by the octet, particularly their works derived from folk themes. Quebec songwriters are also sources of inspiration, with Leclerc and Vigneault being added to the group’s repertoire.
The Oktopus octet was formed in 2010 at the initiative of clarinetist Gabriel Paquin-Buki, creator of musical arrangements and several original compositions. Since then, the group has toured Quebec, Canada and Europe, spreading enthusiasm wherever it goes!
After releasing its debut album Lever l’encre in 2014, Oktopus released Hapax in 2017, which earned nominations as Instrumental Album of the Year at the Juno Awards, and World Music Group of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards. The group has also made many remarkable radio appearances, including a live performance on Radio-Canada’s Toute une musique in the summer of 2019. After the group’s live appearance on Radio-Canada’s Toute une musique in the summer of 2019, the public broadcaster chose a clip from their performance as Canada’s entry in the International Competition of Folk Music Recordings of the Slovak Radio service in Bratislava. Oktopus won the “Special prize for the most creative fusion of ancient and contemporary music traditions,” a first prize for Canada at this event. In 2021, the group released its third album, Créature, which has already earned nominations for Instrumental Group of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards and World Music Album of the Year at the Opus Awards.
Performance is on Sunday, March 5 at 7:30 p.m. at the Port Hardy Civic Centre. Tickets are available at the door, and from Café Guido, Island Dawn’s in Port McNeill, and from Gail Neely in Port Alice. For further information please call 250-956-0452.
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