The vocal ensemble Kitka has been presenting a Wintersongs seasonal concert tour of the Bay Area since the year 2000. This year, in addition to the seven performances, they’ve just released a CD called Evening Star. Artistic Director and Kitka singer Shira Cion says the concerts will include songs from many traditions.

There’s more about the concerts, and their hot-off-the-presses CD at Kitka‘s website.

The Balkans, Slavic, and Caucasus lands are the source of many of the songs, she says, describing rituals and ways of life that the people practiced.  “That part of the world is full of very rich fascinating winter season traditions, largely survival and community related. People really had to rely on one another to get through the season. And so there’s a huge tradition of communities coming together, to share food, to share resources, to share warmth and heat.” There are songs in the Christian tradition, but also Eastern European Jewish and pagan traditions too.  “A theme that we’ve explored a lot in our winter holiday programs is the theme of Mother Night,” Cion says. “The time of year when the nights are so long and magical and mysterious… And encouraging times of reflection, of our place as human beings in the universe.  The evening star was also a female celestial deity, who was the gatekeeper. Who opened the gates in the morning, and closed them in the evening, and through those gates passed the sun god on his chariot.”

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