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April 26, 2004

Oakland Tribune

If you haven't had the heavenly experience of listening to Kitka, the women's vocal ensemble, cancel your plans and attend a concert this weekend. That might sound like too much hype. It isn't. Kitka's voice is something you've never heard. It can start as a fragile wisp, growing and building into a huge, powerful sound that seems to envelope you. I once saw them do an impromptu song at a restaurant, and the other diners stopped in mid-bite, mesmerized. When Kitka finished, napkins fell on the floor. The diners gave them a standing ovation.

Kitka's focus is Eastern European folk music, sung either a cappella or with folk instruments, but it pushes any boundaries. It has collaborated with Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir, another Oakland-based group, exploring the commonalties between the Balkan and African-American women folk-song traditions. "There are strikingly similar modalities," said Shira Cion, lead vocalist and co-director along with Julianna Graffagna and Janet Kutulas. "We juxtaposed Balkan harvest songs with African-American field hollers, congregational moans with Caucasian laments. There are call-and-response similarities. Linda calls it communal moaning. We call it droning."

This weekend's concert is another collaboration with Ukrainian singer and actress Mariana Sadovska, who has performed with the Polish experimental/anthropological theater company, Gardienice. Actors and singers go to villages all over the world, immerse themselves in the village culture and develop new theater pieces. "Mariana brings theatricality, folklore and physicality to her performance," Cion said. "She is an incredible interpreter of songs." More

Posted by acapnews at April 26, 2004 9:37 PM


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