Holiday harmonies with Bay Area ensemble Kitka |

Holiday harmonies with Bay Area ensemble Kitka

The Miners Foundry Cultural Center holiday programming continues Nov. 30 in association with Paul Emery Music when they present Wintersongs with Kitka, the critically acclaimed winter holiday program showcasing seasonal music from a wide variety of Eastern European ethnic and spiritual traditions at 8 p.m. at the historic Nevada City venue.

For more than 30 years, Oakland-based vocal ensemble Kitka has wowed audiences worldwide with its Eastern European-inspired vocal techniques and repertoire. Kitka’s unique sound and innovative sense of programming have garnered praise from esteemed music critics at The New Yorker to NPR and from noted individuals such as Garrison Keillor of “A Prairie Home Companion,” who described Kitka as “a stunning group unlike any other, absolutely electrifying,” to David Crosby of Crosby, Stills and Nash, who gushed, “Simply amazing harmonies … truly this is the most wonderful singing I have ever heard.” Their music has been featured on soundtracks for Braveheart, Jacob’s Ladder and Queen of the Damned.

Kitka’s 2012 Wintersongs program will feature songs ranging from rousing Slavic folk carols to lush, meditative Eastern Orthodox sacred choral works to Baltic pagan incantations for the return of the Sun Goddess to Caucasus Georgian alilos (hallelujahs) to Yiddish, Sephardic and Hebrew songs for Chanukah to Bosnian Muslim ilahijas (devotional hymns) to rhythmic Balkan Romany (“Gypsy”) tunes for the winter festivals of Vasilica and Kurban Bajram. Traditional pieces will be woven together with new folk song arrangements and original compositions by Kitka members and contemporary American and Eastern European composers, all inspired by the customs, beauty and mystery of wintertime.

For countless centuries, people around the world have utilized the power of community singing to infuse warmth, cheer, spirituality and wishes for peace, health and good fortune into the long, dark, cold and difficult winter season. Eastern Europe’s geographic position as a crossroads between Europe and the Orient has produced an astonishingly rich and varied array of seasonal musical rituals.

Kitka has released eleven critically acclaimed recordings, nine on its own Diaphonica label, most recently “Cradle Songs” (2009). “Cradle Songs” has been named “One of the Top Ten CDs of 2009” by NPR and one of the “Most Memorable Internationally Flavored CDs of 2009” by the Los Angeles Times. A frequent guest on national radio shows, Kitka has been featured on nationally syndicated programs such as PRI’s “The World,” “A Prairie Home Companion,” “All Things Considered,” “On Point,” “The Story,” “West Coast Live,” “Performance Today” and “National Geographic World Music Profiles.”

Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door and are available online, by phone or in person at the Nevada City Box Office, (530) 265-5462, or at BriarPatch Co-op. For information, go to

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