Sunday Journal, Explore Eastern Europe with Kitka >>
Explore Eastern Europe with Kitka
By David Steinberg
Journal Staff Writer
Change has been good for Kitka, a Bay Area women’s vocal ensemble.
Kitka began as a group specializing in choral music of the Balkans, mostly from Bulgaria and Macedonia. That narrow scope was widened considerably over the years.
Today the ensemble’s musical interest has spread to incorporate the varied choral music from across Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean and even the Caucasus.
“All of us are lovers and listeners of all kinds of music. We open our ears for new music from Europe, especially Eastern Europe,” said longtime Kitka member Shira Cion in a phone interview from Oakland, Calif.
Kitka even had a brief, flirtatious encounter with rocker David Crosby.
“He had gotten hold of one our CDs, ‘Nectar,’” said Cion. “He was asking us, ‘Who are you? Where are you? Where does this incredible harmony singing come from?’”
Cion said Kitka tried to collaborate with Crosby on a song, but it never panned out.
The eight singers of Kitka will be in concert Friday, Dec. 17, at Popejoy Hall.
The concert features many of the songs on its recent “Wintersongs” CD.
The CD’s booklet says the 20 sacred ritual songs “evoke the joyful, miraculous and reflective nature of the holiday season.”
One is a winter solstice song from Latvia that predates Christianity. Others include carols from Moravia, Romania, Ukraine and the Caucasus Republic of Georgia.
Over Kitka’s 25 years of performing, the makeup of the ensemble also has changed.
“None of the singers (in the group now) are original members. All are second-or-third-generation singers. It’s amazing that Kitka has survived ...,” Cion said.
The Popejoy concert also will feature several musicians – Rumen Shopov from Bulgaian Macedonia playing bouzouki, mandolin, drums and other instruments, klezmer violinist Kaila Flexer and Tobian Roberson on hand-percussion instruments.
Cion said all three will accompany Kitka and solo.
Besides tunes from its CD, the concert will showcase a new repertoire, including a Romany song from Serbia, a Serbian folk about the Nativity and a Jewish love song drawn from the Song of Solomon that Cion said “represents another spiritual tradition.” 12/12/04