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Winter Songs CD Cover
Image © Diaphonica 2004  

(29 December 2004) Kitka is a musical bouquet of eight women singing in a refreshingly beautiful meditative solstice within the recitation spirit of Eastern European magical sounds. The ensemble features the following floral arrangement of singers: Shira Cion; Leslie Bonnett; Catherine Rose Crowther; Deborah Dietrich; Juliana Graffagna; Janet Kutulas; Ann Moorhead, and Lily Storm.

In many Balkan folk songs, the word Kitka appears not only as a literal 'bouquet' of flowers but as a symbol of alternatively, feminine purity, fertility, love and/or beauty. For us as an ensemble, Kitka represents a gathering of women with very distinct voices, ethnic and musical backgrounds, and individual personalities, that, when put together musically, aim to create something that is as beautiful in its whole--or perhaps even more beautiful in its whole--as it is in its individual parts. "Kitka is also a word that is really fun to sing!" says Shira Cion, Executive Director/Vocalist.

"To me it's just the beauty of harmony made up of diverse individual sounds, idea, personalities. Unity through diversity somehow creating beauty," adds Catherine Rose Crowther/Vocalist. And it is just this gathering, of open-voice 'feminine purity' that symbolizes to the CD listening world the vocal and beautiful, figuration, of Kitka.

In a time signature of songs once forgotten, Kitka opens with "Tec, Peleite, Zêrnju, Zogtu," which is rhythmically sung in the ritual rich historical language of Latgalian, an archaic language from the Baltic region of Eastern Europe. It sings to the listener with a good blessing of dissonant voice intervals that eventually form into a full tapestry and ensemble of vocal distinction. The instrumental interlude of violist Leslie Bonnett also figures prominently in this musical lush figuration of ancient sound.

The second track "Byla Cesta" is an early 19th-century carol that is vocal ear nourishment, which is lyrically administerd by the genteelly applied tongues, of lead vocalist Lily Storm and the almost lead vocals, of Leslie Bonnett. "Oj, U Horodi," the twelfth track, is sung within a well-arranged temporal arrangement of time. It is vocally asymmetrical, and contains an excellent sounding interplay between the accordion (Dan Cantrell) and Peter Maund on snare drum. Melodically feminist, this is a beautiful song about a New Year’s celebration and gathering of many young women.

Kitka closes with their opening-voice coloration of "A v Jerusalime," a Christmas audio postcard that sings to us, the listener from Russia with love. Produced by Linda Tillrey along with co-producers Janet Kutulas and Juliana Graffagna, Wintersongs is a twenty-track Trans-Baltic linguistic journey into the embroidered power and passion, and oral ornamentation, of magical words, transformed, into magical sound.--Steven Digman in Maryland and Russ Elliot in New York

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