The Bay Area women’s vocal ensemble Kitka has been thoughtfully researching and reinventing traditional songs from Eastern Europe and Eurasia for four decades. Kitka’s song-catching adventures in regions spanning Transylvania to the Caucasus have resulted in a vast collection of seasonal folk carols, ritual songs, liturgical hymns, lullabies, and poetry-driven pieces from diverse sacred and secular traditions. Kitka’s new album, Evening Star (release: November 9, 2018 on Diaphonica) is the ensemble’s sequel to their acclaimed 2004 recording Wintersongs.
Evoking the cosmic, the earthy, the contemplative, the raucous, and the comforting, Evening Star takes listeners through the soundscapes of wintertime in Balkan, Slavic, and Caucasian lands. The songs include traditional carols drenched in celestial light and pagan mystery; ethereal reminders of compassion’s call; party tunes that get just a little out of hand; and meditations on the cycles of stars and planets, the seasons, and human life.
“This album springs from that very human, ritualistic instinct to come together and sing in the deep, dark heart of wintertime,” explains Shira Cion, Kitka singer and executive/artistic director. “Different cultural and spiritual perspectives create distinct musical expressions, but there’s a common thread: that need to gather together in community at a time of year when survival requires the sharing of warmth. There’s a tangible sense of ‘as above, so below’ in these songs. The lyrics are poetically rich with images of the moon, sun, and stars, as well as wintry elements such as frost, snow, and storms.”