Music

Kitka Reach Back Into Ancient Slavic Mythology on "Zvezda Večernica" (premiere)

Photo: Tomas Pacha / Courtesy of Rock Paper Scissors

Choral ensemble Kitka ushers in the winter with a rendition of the Bulgarian composition "Zvezda Večernica".

Winter often brings with it a feeling of sanctity. Snow erases the landscape, sealing off the year with otherworldly brightness and chill while groups of people the world over turn to seasonal spiritual celebrations. Musically, the songs that come along with such holidays tend to diverge dramatically between commercial pop and carols - and there is never any question that Bay Area choral group Kitka will always take the holier route as they reverently delve into the realms of sacred Eastern European and Caucasian music yet again.

Ahead of the ensemble's album Evening Star, which comes out on November 9 via Diaphonica, comes the video release of title track "Zvezda Večernica", a song that reaches back into ancient Slavic mythology to celebrate the goddess known as the Evening Star, syncretically woven into the Nativity story as the Star of Bethlehem after the advent of Christianity.

"The music and lyrics are by the Bulgarian composer Stefan Dragostinov," the group explains, "who wrote the piece for the legendary Bulgarian women's choir, the Philip Koutev Ensemble. Tzvetanka Varimezova, Kitka's dear friend and mentor in Bulgarian choral repertoire, and a former soloist with the Koutev Ensemble, shared this piece with us."

As has been the case for the decades that Kitka has performed Bulgarian choral compositions as mainstays of its repertoire, the resemblance between Kitka's work and the Bulgarian choirs that have long captivated global audiences is a striking one. The eight current members of Kitka know this style of music better than perhaps any group this far from the Pirin Mountains, and perform with impeccable vocal harmonies and an angelic strength, both of which make for almost unspeakably stellar holiday sounds.

"We love how this tune combines the vocal fireworks and elaborate ornamentation of traditional Western Bulgarian village singing with a contemporary compositional sensibility full of harmonic surprises," the group concludes. "Zvezda Večernica" shines on all of these counts, an exultant combination of places, times, and traditions to welcome the winter.

Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

Dancing in the Street: Our 25 Favorite Motown Singles

Detroit's Motown Records will forever be important as both a hit factory and an African American-owned label that achieved massive mainstream success and influence. We select our 25 favorite singles from the "Sound of Young America".

Music

The Durutti Column's 'Vini Reilly' Is the Post-Punk's Band's Definitive Statement

Mancunian guitarist/texturalist Vini Reilly parlayed the momentum from his famous Morrissey collaboration into an essential, definitive statement for the Durutti Column.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

What Will Come? COVID-19 and the Politics of Economic Depression

The financial crash of 2008-2010 reemphasized that traumatic economic shifts drive political change, so what might we imagine — or fear — will emerge from the COVID-19 depression?

Music

Datura4 Take Us Down the "West Coast Highway Cosmic" (premiere)

Australia's Datura4 deliver a highway anthem for a new generation with "West Coast Highway Cosmic". Take a trip without leaving the couch.

Music

Teddy Thompson Sings About Love on 'Heartbreaker Please'

Teddy Thompson's Heartbreaker Please raises one's spirits by accepting the end as a new beginning. He's re-joining the world and out looking for love.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Little Protests Everywhere

Wherever you are, let's invite our neighbors not to look away from police violence against African Americans and others. Let's encourage them not to forget about George Floyd and so many before him.

Music

Carey Mercer's New Band Soft Plastics Score Big with Debut '5 Dreams'

Two years after Frog Eyes dissolved, Carey Mercer is back with a new band, Soft Plastics. 5 Dreams and Mercer's surreal sense of incongruity should be welcomed with open arms and open ears.

Music

Sondre Lerche Rewards 'Patience' with Clever and Sophisticated Indie Pop

Patience joins its predecessors, Please and Pleasure, to form a loose trilogy that stands as the finest work of Sondre Lerche's career.

Film

Ruben Fleischer's 'Venom' Has No Bite

Ruben Fleischer's toothless antihero film, Venom is like a blockbuster from 15 years earlier: one-dimensional, loose plot, inconsistent tone, and packaged in the least-offensive, most mass appeal way possible. Sigh.

Books

Cordelia Strube's 'Misconduct of the Heart' Palpitates with Dysfunction

Cordelia Strube's 11th novel, Misconduct of the Heart, depicts trauma survivors in a form that's compelling but difficult to digest.

Music

Reaching For the Vibe: Sonic Boom Fears for the Planet on 'All Things Being Equal'

Sonic Boom is Peter Kember, a veteran of 1980s indie space rockers Spacemen 3, as well as Spectrum, E.A.R., and a whole bunch of other fascinating stuff. On his first solo album in 30 years, he urges us all to take our foot off the gas pedal.

Film

Old British Films, Boring? Pshaw!

The passage of time tends to make old films more interesting, such as these seven films of the late '40s and '50s from British directors John Boulting, Carol Reed, David Lean, Anthony Kimmins, Charles Frend, Guy Hamilton, and Leslie Norman.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.