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This profile was last updated on 1/25/16  and contains information from public web pages and contributions from the ZoomInfo community.

Executive and Artistic Director a...

Phone: (510) ***-****  HQ Phone
1201 Martin Luther King Jr. Way
Oakland , California 94612
United States

Company Description: 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...   more
56 Total References
Web References
Shira Cion, ..., 24 Aug 2015 [cached]
Shira Cion, Executive/Artistic Director Kitka
KITKA: Job Openings, 21 Sept 2014 [cached]
To learn more about Board service, please contact Executive Director Shira Cion at or 510.444.0323.
Eric Banks, 1 June 2014 [cached]
At the helm of this fearless ensemble was Shira Cion, who is not only the current music director of Kitka, but has been the ensemble’s executive director for most of her professional career. She not only sings in the group, but corrals nearly everyone and everything behind the scenes to make “Kitkastan� run smoothly. Shira writes the grants, arranges the venues, coordinates the volunteers, publicizes like a fiend, moves the chairs, feeds the hungry, comforts the bothered, takes flak from the “talent� (myself included), and does it all with an enviable amount of grace. I don’t know if Kitka would survive without Shira, but I don’t want to imagine such a dire scenario. She is the earth-mother of the ensemble, and I was honored and inspired to work with her every day. Thank you, Shira, for believing in my work and in my process enough to hand over your ensemble to me. It meant everything to me.
Until 10 June, our rehearsals were quite intense, in preparation for my five day hiatus in which I flew to the East Coast for the Chorus America conference in Washington DC. On my way to the capitol city, I stopped over for a night in Atlanta to attend a rehearsal of the Atlanta Young Singers, directed by my “big sisterâ€� Paige Mathis, as they were preparing Peace and quiet for their upcoming tour to Riga to compete in the World Choir Games. After rehearsal, I spent the night with my friend Ginny Thompson, the executive director of AYS, and her husband Bill. The next day, I was off to Chorus America (on the same flight as Iris Levine and Lesili Beard!) where I was able to spend time with so many of my colleagues and friends â€" Mark Shapiro, Steven Sametz, Peter Rutenberg, Arlene Williams, Dominick DiOrio, Jordan Å ramek, John and Lynn Muehleisen, Michael Miller, Martin Benvenuto, Bob Geary, Barbara Heroux, and Rhonda Juliano to name a few. Of course, there was also time with Paige and Ginny, my favorite otter Brandon Brack, and my “soul sisterâ€� Justin Montigne â€" and there’s never a dull moment when these four are around.
After the craziness of the conference, I jetted back to the Bay for the big push toward concert week. There were many interview with the local press, lots of posting of poems on Facebook, and nightly rehearsals to get in as many repetitions as possible â€" with a work as long as this one, muscle memory is everything. Finally, the concerts were upon us â€" two performances at the wonderful St Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church (where my friend Sanford Dole is the music director), and one at the Chapel of the Chimes in Oakland. The concerts were a whirlwind of emotion and energy for us all â€" and they were very well received! Several of my closest friends came down from Seattle to hear the premiere, including my beloved David, Mary and Meridithe, Linda and Merideth, and Samantha. My friend Nick even came up from Phoenix to hear the piece twice. As well, so many of my Bay Area friends came to support me â€" Jim, Doug, Brandon, Justin, Christa, Danya, Bob, Mark, and Barbara â€" it meant so much to me to see so many of you in the audience.
All in all, my residency with Kitka has been both career-affirming and life-changing. It was an intense musical experience with an ensemble that I had never worked with before. Due to the subject matter and the degree to which we were all vulnerable, these eight women became my friends pretty quickly â€" and our level of intimacy and trust was truly inspiring. In addition to my time with Kelly, Caitlin, Corrine, Michele, Janet, Kristine, Natalie, and Shira, I was able to spend a fair amount of time with Jim Meehan, my most accommodating host at One Rincon Hill. I loved our evening chats, and helping him prepare for his choir tour to Paris to sing the Duruflé Requiem at St Etienne du Mont. Who wouldn’t enjoy that?
After the sessions in Berkeley were over on 27 June, I needed to get back to Seattle and get ready to go to Riga! However, the story of I will remember everything isn’t yet over. Throughout this entire project, Shira had been fundraising toward a goal of $20,000 that would match the NEA grant that Kitka had been awarded, and Kitka’s campaign was racing to the end of the group’s fiscal year on 30 June. With a few hours to spare, Kitka’s donors met this goal! And on the following day, we received word that this piece had been awarded $10,000 from New Music USA â€" out of 1,179 grant applications, 57 projects got funded (that’s only 4.8%)! So, we’re not exactly sure what is next for my little composition. (Shira keeps talking about taking it on tour to Russia!) I certainly hope that more audiences will have the chance to hear it and learn about the courageous life and inimitable love of Sophia Parnok.
After winning last month’s Copland and NEA grants, Shira Cion (Kitka’s director) and I engaged in several weeks of discussion, and decided that I would create a work around the lesbian affair between Marina Tsvetaeva and Sophia Parnok, two Russian poetesses. This affair began in the summer of 1914, exactly a century before the planned premiere date, which would be part of the National Queer Arts Festival in San Francisco. I was already familiar with the work of Tsvetaeva because I had composed Vitam impendere vero to honor the slain Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya. So, I decided to begin my research for this piece by looking into the work of the “underdog,� the less famous of the two poetesses, Sophia Parnok.
While I percolated on the puzzle of this Verge Ensemble commission, I was putting finishing touches on Peace and quiet, my 8-minute double-chorus (SMA/SMA) piece for the Atlanta Young Singers. As well, The Esoterics were gearing quickly up for their two series of BRITTEN centennial concerts, both before and after Thanksgiving. In the midst of this fire, the news came from Shira Cion (the director of Kitka in Oakland) that our Russian project had received funding from both the Copland Fund for New Music AND from the National Endowment for the Arts. While the grant was not entirely funded, it was certainly enough to get started on the piece â€" once I was finished with everything else.
There was so much going for me last month - many irons in the fire - East Coast travel, intense rehearsals toward imminent concerts, pieces percolating, and other pieces near completion.  However, after this call from Shira, I knew that David and I would be spending a "Russian" holiday in Paris, and that I had more than usual to be thankful for on the last Thursday of the month, as we celebrated with our beloved chef Whitney and all of our friends.
KITKA: Press Release: KITKA & TRIO KAVKASIA: Songs from Beyond the Black Sea: January 26-28, 2007, 21 Dec 2006 [cached]
The singers of KITKA are: Zlatka Baneva, Leslie Bonnett, Briget Boyle, Shira Cion, Catherine Rose Crowther, Juliana Graffagna, Phoebe Jevtovic, Janet Kutulas, and Natalia Ukrainska.
Shira Cion Executive Director email: phone: (510) 444-0323
Folk Dance Federation of California, Inc., 1 April 2013 [cached]
Shira Cion - (510) 843-4110 Send an EmailWebsite
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