Thursday, November 17, 2011

Vocal arts ensemble Kitka to perform Dec. 1 at Cuyamaca

Kitka vocal ensemble
     Kitka, an Oakland-based group of American women vocalists who started in 1979 as grassroots amateurs sharing their passion for the distinctive traditional songs and vocal techniques of Balkan, Slavic and Caucasian women’s groups to become an internationally renowned professional ensemble, will kick off its Wintersongs Tour Dec. 1 at Cuyamaca College.
     The 7:30 p.m. performance at the Cuyamaca College Performing Arts Theater is $20 for general admission, $10 for students and seniors. The Granite Hills High School Choir will make a special guest appearance. Cuyamaca College is located at 900 Rancho San Diego Parkway in Rancho San Diego. For tickets, go to or call (619) 660-4288.

     Described by National Public Radio as offering “a refreshing spin on traditional seasonal choral music,” Kitka – “bouquet” in Bulgarian and Macedonian – has been recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts, Chorus America, and the American Choral Directors’ Association as one of the country’s premier touring vocal ensembles. Many international musical authorities consider Kitka the foremost interpreter of Balkan and Slavic choral repertoire in the United States.
     With a wide variety of Eastern European ethnic and spiritual traditions, Wintersongs showcases material from countries like Bulgaria and Belarus, Georgia and Greece, and from pre-Christian celebrations of the solstice to rousing Slavic folk carols, humorous Yiddish Hanukah songs and meditative Eastern Orthodox incantations.
      Kitka’s performers have deep ties to Eastern Europe and have traveled there to perform and collect repertoire. In 2005 and 2009, supported by major grants from the Trust for Mutual Understanding, Kitka journeyed to Ukraine and Poland for a series of performances, artist exchanges, radio and television broadcasts and research expeditions in rural villages. The singers regularly conduct fieldwork in ethnic communities throughout the United States, as well as abroad.
      Kitka’s unique sound has been tapped by Hollywood, with collaborations on motion picture soundtracks including “Braveheart,” “Jacob’s Ladder,” and “Queen of the Damned.” Other collaborations include working with the American Conservatory Theater’s on its critically-acclaimed performances of “Hecuba” for which Kitka received a Drama Critic’s Circle Award nomination.
      Kitka has released 11 recordings, most recently “Cradle Songs,” named one of the top 10 CDs of 2009  by NPR and one of the most memorable internationally-flavored CDs of 2009 by the Los Angeles Times. A frequent guest on national radio shows, Kitka has been featured on nationally syndicated programs such as PRI’s “The World,” “A Prairie Home Companion,” “All Things Considered,” “Performance Today,” and National Geographic World Music Profiles.