KITKA was founded in 1979 as an outgrowth of the Westwind International Folk Ensemble. KITKA began as a diverse and informal group of amateur singers who met regularly to share their passion for the stunning dissonances, asymmetric rhythms, intricate ornamentation, lush harmonies, and resonant strength of Eastern European women's vocal traditions. Under the artistic direction of vocalist, composer, and conductor Bon (Brown) Singer from 1981 to 1996, KITKA blossomed into a refined, professional ensemble garnering international renown for its artistry, versatility, and mastery of the demanding techniques of Balkan and Slavic vocal styling.
KITKA has deep ties to Eastern Europe. The ensemble's singers have performed and conducted field research in Bulgaria, Macedonia, Former Yugoslavia, Russia, Hungary, Kazahkstan, and in ethnic communities throughout America. In 1986 the group was invited to perform at the Ilinden Days Festival in Bitola. During the North American tours of Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares (the Bulgarian State Female Vocal Choir), KITKA worked intensively with the Grammy Award-winning choir's soloists and their director Dora Hristova. The magical affinity between KITKA and the Bulgarian choir was documented by NBC-TV in 1990. In 1991, KITKA singers traveled to Bulgaria and were honored by an invitation to perform at the National Festival of Bulgarian Folklore. This historic performance by non-indigenous singers at the festival's closing ceremonies was twice televised throughout Europe by Bulgarian National Television. On this trip, Nikolai Kaufman, one of Bulgaria's foremost composers, was so enchanted with KITKA that he dedicated a set of original compositions to the ensemble. In 1994, KITKA began working regularly with vocal coach Tatiana Sarbinska, one of Bulgaria's most celebrated vocalists. In the spring of 1999, KITKA sponsored artist residencies with Kremena Stancheva, soloist with Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares, and the preeminent Thracian singer Donka Koleva.
KITKA's innovative programming has led to many fruitful collaborations, ranging from a reconstruction of the medieval pageant Carmina Burana (under the direction of early music luminary Thomas Binkley) to work with award-winning composer Maurice Jarre on his soundtrack for Adrian Lyne's film Jacob's Ladder. KITKA's voices have also been featured in the motion picture soundtracks to Braveheart, At Play in the Fields of the Lord, and several television documentaries. In 1994 The Women's Philharmonic, under the direction of JoAnn Falletta, commissioned KITKA's former director Bon Brown and Minnesota composer Janika Vandervelde to create and premiere a work for Balkan Choir and Symphony Orchestra. This work, entitled Ancient Echoes Across the Stara Planina, has enjoyed several repeat performances, all featuring KITKA.
547 Mendocino Ave.
Santa Rosa, CA 95401
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