Kitka Women's Vocal Ensemble
Now celebrating its 38th season (read full ensemble history here), Kitka is an American women’s vocal arts ensemble inspired by traditional songs and vocal techniques from Eastern Europe. Dedicated to developing new audiences for music rooted in Balkan, Slavic, and Caucasian women’s vocal traditions, Kitka also strives to expand the boundaries of folk song as a living and evolving expressive art form. Kitka’s activities include an Oakland-based home series of concerts and vocal workshops, regional, national, and international touring, programs in the schools, recording, publication, and broadcast projects, master artist residencies, commissioning, original works, community service, and adventuresome collaborations. A frequently occurring symbolic word in Balkan women's folk song lyrics, Kitka means "bouquet" in Bulgarian and Macedonian.
A women’s vocal ensemble unlike any other, these sophisticated singers blend a contemporary sensibility with specialized vocal techniques that have been distilled over centuries. Using only the pure unaccompanied voice, Kitka creates a constantly shifting landscape of sound, pulsing with angular rhythms, where dramatic dynamics leap from delicate stillness to shattering resonance, and seamless unisons explode into lush, incomprehensible chords.
Kitka's material ranges from ancient village duets to complex choral works, from early music to contemporary theater. The sound of their voices is exotic, both elegant and eerie. The melodies are hauntingly beautiful. The many languages in which they sing are largely unfamiliar to American ears: Albanian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Serbo-Croatian, Georgian, Hungarian, Ladino, Latvian, Macedonian, Romanian, Russian, Ukrainian, Yiddish, with the occasional Latin, medieval Galician, or ancient Greek. It is exactly this unfamiliarity that is so riveting, as Kitka’s sensitive precision lifts their work out of the merely musical into a universe beyond words, an experience that is primal, elemental.
More than just a concert, an evening with Kitka unites vibrant music, enhanced by a subtly changing stage picture, compelling song introductions, and each singer’s warm rapport with the audience. Listeners are transported by a continuous unfolding of music that flows seamlessly from ethereal, contemplative pieces to rousing earthy rhythms.
This is powerful music by accomplished musicians who offer more than just exquisite execution—these women clearly share a passion for what they do. Kitka: joyful voices uniquely blended in exquisite dissonance and harmony.