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May 13, 2011

Meredith Monk eager to perform with 'really fine' singers in Kitka

San Francisco Chronicle

Sunday's unprecedented collaboration between the acclaimed Bay Area a cappella ensemble Kitka and composer and vocal voyager extraordinaire Meredith Monk was a lifetime in the making.

In a career spanning five decades, Monk has crafted a vast musical universe based upon extended vocal techniques and a gift for creating vivid, painterly aural textures. Her wordless vocabulary can express a wider and deeper range of emotions than all but the most incisive lyrics, whether she's serving as a musical muse for film directors such as Jean-Luc Godard and the Coen Brothers or composing for orchestras, chamber groups, or the Meredith Monk and Vocal Ensemble, which she founded in 1978.

Always looking for new outlets and avenues for expression, she's created theater pieces, directed films, recorded extensively for the ECM label and pioneered site-specific performance events. But she's never undertaken a collaboration like tonight's concert with Kitka. While Oakland's all-female octet has performed works by numerous contemporary composers, its international reputation is based upon the mastery of ancient vocal practices from the Balkans, Eastern Europe and the Caucasus. For Kitka, the opportunity to work with Monk, who was awarded a MacArthur Foundation "Genius" fellowship in 1995, was the culmination of years of courtship.

"I said yes to the project because these traditions and cultures are so deep and powerful," says Monk, 68. "I had heard a few Kitka CDs over the years and I thought they were really fine singers, with beautiful intonation and blend. I knew that the women of Kitka would not be afraid to explore different vocal colors. Working with singers from the classical tradition, there's often a lot of fear. Read more.

Posted by acapnews at May 13, 2011 12:01 AM

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