Any political movement looking to make a lasting impact needs a soundtrack, a body of songs to inspire solidarity and a sense of mission. On Jan. 18, the second anniversary of the women’s marches that greeted the inauguration of President Trump, Vajra Voices and the Grace Cathedral/Ghiberti Foundation present The Eve of the March.
An unprecedented collaboration between two of the Bay Area’s most celebrated all-women vocal ensembles, the concert brings together Vajra Voices, a quintet that’s established its identity via unearthly performances of music by the 12th-century abbess Hildegard von Bingen, with Kitka, the beloved eight-member choir known for hair-raising harmonies and a vast repertoire of songs from Eastern Europe.
While steeped in ancient traditions, both ensembles commission new works, and the Eve of the March performance features Berkeley cellist, vocalist and composer Theresa Wong in the world premiere of her Vajra-commissioned settings for poems by the 12th-century Taoist female mystic Sun Buer, “To Burst to Bloom.”
Also joining the ensembles in the resonant Grace Cathedral nave is brilliant multi-instrumentalist Shira Kammen, an early music expert. The groups will perform works from their recent albums — Kitka’s “Evening Star” and Vajra Voices’ “O Eterne Deus”— and also cross over into each other’s worlds, with Vajra joining Kitka to sing the Greek song “Agni Parthene” (O Virgin Pure) and Kitka joining Vajra on von Bingen’s medieval songs “O Viriditas Digiti Dei” (Greenness of God), and “Quia Ergo Femina” (Because a Woman).
Rather than politics, the evening celebrates the divine feminine, a numinous thread revealed in the double entendre of the title Eve of the March. “If you didn’t have Eve, you couldn’t have Mary,” says Karen R. Clark, the founder and director of Vajra Voices. “You can’t have one without the other. As the Buddhists say, no mud, no lotus.”
Details: 7:30 p.m.; Grace Cathedral, San Francisco; $10-$45; www.kitka.org, www.vajravoices.com.