I first heard Kitka about a year ago, oh or maybe it’s been a couple/few. Anyway, I was flipping channels on the radio, and there was this beautiful singing. I forget the exact song, something from Wintersongs, so lovely it brought tears to my eyes. Turns out a friend has some CDs he loaned me, so I got to hear more, and then I’ve been keeping my eye out for a chance to see them live.
It finally worked out when they did a dinner show at the French Garden in Sebastopol last weekend. A lovely, intimate space and a sold-out show. There’s a small stage area I one corner, and the performance was unamplified.
Printed program notes were provided, and the seven women took turns speaking between songs. It was great to hear more about the music and the group’s experiences visiting Eastern Europe, where their material comes from. Apparently many of the songs are very localized, and they are specific to events and situations – birth, death, celebrating the different bonds between people and aspects of daily life. In that context the dinner service was less of a distraction.
Perhaps the most exquisite moments in the evening of amazing music was a piece with only two singers, which had a section that moved back and forth between harmony and dissonance. From comfortable, pleasing harmony there would be a bend and slide to oh that’s wrong but in a right sorta way and then just pushing til on the edge of uncomfortable then relax back into harmony. There were several cycles of this. Truly awesome, the power of the human voice.
The group also has impressive longevity, celebrating their 35th year. In that time there has been a variety of members, but the music continues. Kitka has released eleven recordings, although they probably have hundreds of songs. The printed notes for the concert indicated which CDs songs were on, and there were actually probably more of them that were unrecorded. Which is a wonderful reason to see them live, although I think sometimes people want to hear things they are already familiar with, and then if you do hear something you really like in a concert you might be disappointed to not be able to get a recording. Anyway, I’m digressing.
It was a really lovely evening, and I would highly recommend hearing Kitka live if you get the opportunity. Or if you don’t (or even if you do) the recordings are also wonderful to listen to.