Eastern European women's vocals

Kitka is an American women’s vocal arts ensemble inspired by traditional songs and vocal techniques from Eastern Europe.  Dedicated to developing new audiences for music rooted in Balkan, Slavic, and Caucasian women’s vocal traditions, Kitka also strives to expand the boundaries of folk song as a living and evolving expressive art form.  Kitka’s activities include an Oakland-based home series of concerts and vocal workshops; regional, national, and international touring; programs in the schools; recording, publication, and broadcast projects; master artist residencies; commissioning; community service work; and adventuresome collaborations.

Founded in 1979, Kitka began as a grassroots group of amateur singers from diverse backgrounds 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 music.

In 2013, through participation in ACTA’s Development Program, Kitka held a 2-day intensive master artist residency with Zedashe Ensemble, from Signaghi, Georgia. During the residency, Zedashe’s singers, led by director Ketevan Mindorashvili, mentored Kitka members in traditional Georgian folk singing styles, regional vocal techniques (including ornamentation and yodeling), instrumental accompaniment on traditional Georgian instruments, Georgian language, and pronunciation of regional dialects.

In 2012, a grant from  ACTA’s Living Cultures Grants Program supported To the Singer of Tales, is a master folk artist residency, Balkan community outreach, and performance program produced by Kitka in colaboration with Serbian folk singing master and ethnographer Svetlana Spajic.   Ms. Spajic will transmit endangered folk songs and line dances from rural Serbia and songs from Serbian communities living in Croatia.   She will offer workshops to the Serbian-American and Balkan-American communities of the Bay Area as well as perform with Kitka in three public performances which will take place on January 27-29, 2012, in San Francisco.

In 2011, through their participation in ACTA’s Development Program, Kitka worked with master artist Carl Linich in a series of workshops to build the ensemble’s repertoire in Georgian folk music.

In 2007, Kitka received a grant from ACTA’s Living Cultures Grants Program to support a series of residencies with master Bosnian folk singer Mirjana Lausevic.  The residencies encompassed intensive repertoire development focused on traditional Bosnian song forms.  Additionally, community outreach workshops were offered, as well as in-school lecture/demonstrations and radio appearances.