Kitka Credit: Evening Star

This Oakland-based women’s choir specialize in vocal traditions from eastern Europe, including styles from Russia, the Balkans, Greece, and Turkey. Like their compatriots Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares, Kitka perform both traditional music and original compositions, and have lent their shimmering, otherworldly tones to film soundtracks (in their case, Braveheart, Jacob’s Ladder, and The Queen of the Damned). They’ve created a multidisciplinary work inspired by the Women in Black antiwar movement, released albums focusing on Jewish and Romani music, created an ambitious concept album, The Rusalka Cycle (based on Slavic folklore about vengeful female spirits), and collaborated with avant-garde composer Meredith Monk. Kitka’s latest release, last year’s Evening Star, was a long time coming; it’s a follow-up to their 2003 full-length Wintersongs, a compilation of holiday songs, choral pieces, folk tunes, and other music rooted in the colder months (though they’ve released several other albums in between). Evening Star is an equally diverse collection of pieces; it’s unified around a framework of “cosmic wonders and earthly rituals of the winter season” and features singing in 12 different languages. With Kitka’s united voices rippling and pulsing like the aurora borealis, revealing layers upon layers of texture, the album sounds at once ancient and futuristic.   v

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