LESLIE BONNETT feels fortunate to have grown up in an environment where she was exposed to various types of music and dance, and most especially ethnic music and dance, from an early age. Her studies and performances have run the gamut from classical voice to Scandinavian fiddling to Hungarian dance and much more. She has been singing with Kitka since 1998.
BRIGET BOYLE has been working as a vocalist and percussionist with Kitka, The Brass Menazeri, Kaila Flexer, Mariana Sadovska, Dan Cantrell, and Amy X Neuburg since moving to the Bay Area in 2004. Having grown up in a musical household she has sung in a variety of styles including West African, jazz, pop and extended techniques. She discovered her love of Balkan folk music when she attended the College of Santa Fe as a Music Performance and Composition major in 2000. When she is not singing, she is the Assistant Director of the Jewish Music Festival in Berkeley.
SHIRA CION, Executive Director, has been active both as a professional performer and arts administrator for over 25 years. She holds degrees in Classical Music Performance (oboe/English horn), Ethnomusicology, and Slavic Folklore from the Hartt School of Music, Wesleyan University, and Russia’s Moscow Conservatory. Her life-long interest in new music and the expressive possibilities of the voice led to composition and performance work with Alvin Lucier, Meredith Monk, Pauline Oliveros, and Joan Jonas, the Composers Cafeteria and ultimately to her discovery of traditional Balkan and Slavic women's singing, which has been her obsession since 1986. Of Russian, Belarussian and Ukrainian/Jewish descent, she joined Kitka in 1988, became the ensemble's Associate Director in 1991, and Executive Director in 1996.
CATHERINE ROSE CROWTHER follows a dual path of visual art and music. After singing in various choirs and a cappella ensembles, her keen interest in experimental vocal technique and improvisation led her to Kitka where she has been singing and performing for over 20 years. Outside of Kitka, Catherine Rose pursues the vocal and instrumental music of early American and Celtic traditions. Catherine Rose is also an award winning illustrator who's art graces the covers of Kitka's CD's. She is currently "Discovering the Artist Within", a class in watercolor and meditation.
JULIANA GRAFFAGNA, Music Director, fell under Kitka’s spell in 1988. She holds degrees in Russian and French Studies, and is a trained singer and pianist. Juliana is a Choral Conductor with the Oakland Youth Chorus, teaches piano classes for young children with Musical Sprouts using the Music Moves for Piano curriculum, and leads ongoing singing workshops in the Bay Area. She has taught Balkan vocal technique at the Arcata Folk Music Festival, Balkanalia and Kolo Dance Festival, and performs with Zabava!, a folk-dance band specializing in the traditional music of Macedonia, Bulgaria and Greece.
LILY HUANG was bitten by the bug of Eastern European folk music in 1991, when she sang with the Middlebury Russian Choir while studying Russian for a summer. She went on to sing with and direct the Yale Slavic Chorus, while receiving a B.A. in Russian Language and Literature. Upon moving to Oakland to pursue a medical career, she sang with Savina Women’s Folk Choir for four years. She then got lost in the music-free vacuum of medical training for several years, from which she was happy to resurface to join Kitka in 2003.
JANET KUTULAS joined KITKA in 1988, when she broke both her hands in a cycling accident and was temporarily unable to play her flute. A graduate of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music she was awarded a Hertz Fellowship from the University of California in Berkeley as a living/traveling stipend to be used for the purpose of studying the flute abroad. She relocated "abroad" to the Chicago area where she studied and performed as a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago (a training program of the Chicago Symphony), the New Arts Ensemble and the Illinois Philharmonic. Back in the Bay Area, she performed with the Berkeley Symphony, the California Symphony, the Lamplighter’s Orchestra, and various local pick-up orchestras and chamber groups. As a founding member, she played for 15 years with EARPLAY, an ensemble that performs newly written works by living composers. She has also performed in the San Francisco Symphony’s New and Unusual Music Series, and with Composers Inc., among other Bay Area chamber groups, and was a private flute teacher in both the Bay Area and the Chicago area for over 20 years.
LILY STORM is a singer specializing in traditional music, with particular experience in Eastern European styles. She has studied bel canto singing with Janice Fiore and folk music with traditional singers Kremena Stancheva, Donka Koleva, Tsvetanka Varimezova, Tatiana Sarbinska, and Radostina Kaneva (Bulgarian), Mariana Sadovska (Ukrainian), Merita Halili (Albanian), and Christos Govetas (Greek). She has lived in Hungary and Greece and has traveled to Russia, Georgia, Albania, Bulgaria and the former Yugoslavia, studying and collecting songs. She also makes extensive use of archival recordings to study ancient styles preserved into the early 20th century and teaches weekly singing classes in Berkeley, CA.
NATALIA UKRAINSKA was born in Kiev, Ukraine and began studying music and choral singing as a child. She received her education as a choir conductor at the Kiev School of Culture, specializing in classical singing. Also since childhood, she performed, toured and recorded with several choirs and vocal ensembles, including the folk ensemble Usmishka, under the direction of Liudmila Blinova, who also was Natalia's vocals teacher at the School. Natalia was a member of the ensemble Art Hurt, which was modeled after Usmishka, and the Ensemble of the Border Guard of Ukraine. In 2005, she moved to the United States and in 2006 joined Kitka. Natalia had also performed spiritual music in Kiev and is currently a member of the choir of the Russian Orthodox Church of Christ the Savior in San Francisco.
DANIEL HOFFMAN, VIOLIN - co-founded Davka in 1992 and has earned a reputation as one of leading innovators of New Jewish Music. He is the leader of the Klez-X (formerly the SF Klezmer Experience) and as one of the country’s foremost experts of the Yiddish violin style, he has recorded and performed with the top players in the field. He has received composing grants from Meet The Composer, the NEA, the National Foundation for Jewish Culture, the Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity, the Ashkenaz Festival of New Yiddish Culture in Toronto, Traveling Jewish Theatre, the San Diego Repertory Theater, and the SF Jewish Film Festival. He recently wrote and performed in the comic musical Moonwatcher for TJT. He has written two new scores for the silent films, The Golem, and Jewish Luck and is currently composing music for a new play by Yehuda Hyman based on King David.
MOSES SEDLER, CELLO -In 1992 Moses joined with violinist Daniel Hoffman and percussionist Adam Levenson to form Davka. During this time Moses was immersed in the study of North Indian Classical music with Sarod Maestro Ali Akbar Khan and Tabla virtuoso Swapan Chaudury. Apart from this five-year detour into Indian music, Moses has studied Western classical music, composition and jazz improvisation in tandem for the past 17 years. While at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, Moses learned classical composition from Janice Giteck, while being mentored in jazz improvisation and composition by Julian Priester and Jerry Graneli. Moses has appeared with Pharoah Sanders, Hamza El Din, Paul McCandles, Omar Sosa, Kai Ekhardt, and has composed for many bay area dance companies including Alonzo King’s Lines Contemporary Ballet, and Kunst-Stoff. More info at www.cellozone.net.
KEVIN MUMMEY, PERCUSSION - One of the Bay-Area's most versitle and virtuosic percussionists, Kevin learned drums from his father in Chicago, and studied with Bob Moses, Swapan Chaudury, Vince Delgado, and Jack Gates. Kevin has recorded and performed extensively with Laurie Lewis, Penelope Houston, Los Pinkies, and the Blue Room Boys. His extraordinary range of skills finds him in great demand in jazz, rock, flamenco, Arabic, and North Indian classical. His klezmer credits include many years with the Klez-X, Klezmania, and Adama.
PAUL HANSON, BASSOON - is a Berkeley musician who has gained international recognition for his unique bassoon playing. Paul has performed/recorded bassoon with Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Wayne Shorter, Medeski Martin & Wood, Peter Erskine, Jonas Hellborg, Omar Sosa, Ray Charles, Terry Riley, Darol Anger, Dave Binney, The Klez-X, The Paul Dresher Ensemble, St. Joseph Ballet Company, The Klezmorim, and as soloist with the Napa Symphony. Paul was the 1996 winner of JAZZIZ Magazine's WOODWINDS ON FIRE competition-the first bassoon winner ever. Paul won the Robert Mondavi Concerto Competition in 1984 and a NEA Jazz Fellowship in 1995. Paul taught bassoon at Ithaca College and is a Moosmann Bassoon artist/clinician. Paul's performed/recorded saxophone with Boz Scaggs, Eddie Money, The Temptations and many others. Paul has released 4 solo albums. More info at -www.jazzbassoon.com.
GUEST ARTIST: STEPHEN SAXON has performed or recorded with The Berkeley Symphony Orchestra, Chet Baker, Michael Brecker, Shlomo Carlebach, Chanticleer, Richie Cole, Jose Feliciano, Dave Gruisin, The Klezmorim, Bobby McFerrin, Zalmen Mlotek, Amenata Moseka (Abby Lincoln), Mark Murphy, Phil Mattson, The San Francisco Klezmer Experience, The San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Gunther Schuller, Kirby Shaw, The Spokane Symphony Orchestra, Buddy Tate, Michael Tilson Thomas, Mal Waldron, John Williams, and Frank Zappa, among others.