Jerome Kitzke to Perform Concert Series During Tribeca New Music Festival, 11/13
New York City, NY --- Marking the commencement of the 2015-16 Tribeca New Music festival, AN AMERICAN MAVERICK | JEROME KITZKE AT 60 celebrates composer-storyteller JEROME KITZKE in a two-night concert series November 13-14, 2015, at The DiMenna Center for Classical Music. Known for creating works that are uniquely and bracingly American, where freedom and ritual converge, Kitzke shares his career-long dedication to social justice and the human condition in this special program comprised of a dozen of his works composed between 1987 and 2015, including the world premiere of For Pte Tokahewin Ska. From the premier string quartet ETHEL and pianist Anthony de Mare to Hammond B-3 rising star Wil Smith and accordionist Guy Klucevsek, 26 of today's top contemporary artists will come together to perform and honor the inimitable musical language of Jerome Kitzke.
"Two years ago, composer/bass clarinetist Michael Lowenstern proposed that we celebrate Jerome Kitzke's 60th birthday with a concert retrospective," says Preston Stahly, director of Tribeca New Music. I loved the idea, being an admirer of Jerome's outside-the-box musical style for years. His combination of pop culture jazz and poetry, infused with a spirit of Native American song and social justice, is an excellent fit for our mission and values. We're very proud to present this special two-concert celebration."
As much a storyteller as a composer, Kitzke shares his politically charged convictions through his poly-stylistic music often interwoven with text. He has built a career that increasingly turns to the sufferings of war, various forms of struggle, quests for love and friendship, and calls for justice as source material. "For me it has to do with being an American," explains Kitzke.
"I feel-and have now felt for over 30 years that studying Native American/White relationships, the horrors of war and the human condition and writing pieces about them-that one of the outcomes is that I am a better American and a better person through understanding the stories of what actually happened, and digging deeper for the truth." As Kitzke celebrates his milestone 60th birthday this year (02/06/15), he reflects on the social impact of his music. "I always feel if I reach a number of people with these pieces and it pricks them into exploring some of these issues on their own, then I have been successful."
Influenced by the spirit of Plains Indian song, driving jazz, Beat Generation poetry, and contemporary classical music, his repertoire includes vocalizing instrumentalists, theatrical speaking, extended techniques, and hard driving drumming, all notated in beautiful hand-drawn scores. Kitzke's heartfelt concern with the state of the Native American Nations, and the American landscape and how we live in it, manifests in full flower in this special two-concert celebration. "I've written many pieces that have to do with my perception of the relationship between the Europeans who came to this country and the native nations that were already here. That interaction, now ongoing for well over 500 years, is a fascinating and important one to me."
The series' pinnacle is the world premiere of For Pte Tokahewin Ska named and written in honor of Kitzke's Oglala Lakota friend, Charlotte Black Elk. The title is Ms. Black Elk's Lakota name and means "white buffalo woman of different motion." This piece marks the latest of several Kitzke works dedicated to the Lakota. The Paha Sapa Give-Back (1993) and Mad Coyote Madly Sings (1991) are two of four pieces that form a large theatrical work serving as a musical sermon to give the "Paha Sapa" (trans. Black Hills) back to the Lakota, Cheyenne and Arapaho nations. Scored for four percussionists/vocalists and piano, The Paha Sapa Give-Back is a reflection on indigenous people's land claims, full of complex rhythms, echoes of military and tribal drums, stabbing piano chords, and cries of anger and sorrow. Mad Coyote Madly Sings was written in response to the Persian Gulf War and is intended to be a voice crying out against not just that war, but war in general. It uses texts by the Tewa, Allen Ginsberg, and the Lakota.
The recent American military engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan inspired Kitzke's 2008 antiwar piece, Winter Count. This 37-minute magnum opus features actress/singer (Jennifer Marshall Evens), bass drum (Barbara Merjan), and string quartet (ETHEL). Kitzke uses emotionally charged poetry from the likes of Aeschylus to Harold Pinter and Walt Whitman and others to express the nightmares of war through the ages. Arranged into 18 parts, Winter Count combines texts with meditative musical interludes, noisy free jazz-like riffs and chittering vocal sounds that result in a searing, thought-provoking reflection on the futility of war. Also included will be Kitzke's seminal works for speaking pianist, Sunflower Sutra, The Green Automobile, and The Animist Child. Other works on the programs are featured on Kitzke's Innova recordings: The Character of the American Sunlight (2013), The Paha Sapa Give-Back (2014), Haunted America (2002), and Speak! (2009).
About Jerome Kitzke
Jerome Kitzke was born in Milwaukee in 1955 and has lived in New York City since 1984. His music arises from the North American landscape and celebrates vitality in its purest forms, thriving on the spirit of driving jazz, Plains Indian song, and Beat Generation poetry, where freedom and ritual converge. It is direct, dramatic, and visceral, always with an ear to the sacred ground. Often political and always topical, his music aims at revealing the heart of what it means to be an American early in the twenty-first century, especially as it relates to how we live on this land and the way we came to live on it. His music has been played around the world by many soloists and ensembles and can be found on the Innova, Mode, and New World record labels, as well as on iTunes. His latest record release on the Innova label, The Paha Sapa Give-Back, features ETHEL with Jennifer Marshall Evens and Barbara Merjan, The Mad Coyote, and Kitzke playing Winter Count, The Paha Sapa Give-Back, and The Green Automobile, respectively. Kitzke has been a fellow at artist colonies around the U.S. and in Europe, including Bellagio, Civitella, the MacDowell Colony and Yaddo. His music has been featured twice on John Schaefer's New Sounds Live and in 2005 he was the Macgeorge Fellow at the University of Melbourne in Australia where he was featured on ABC Radio's The Morning Show with Andrew Ford. In early 2015, interviews of him appeared in New Music Box with Frank Oteri and Fanfare Magazine with Robert Carl. Current commissions are held with the sextet thingNY, and the percussionist Payton MacDonald. His music is published by Peer Music Classical, New York and Hamburg.
About Tribeca New Music
Tribeca New Music is a not-for-profit organization that promotes a bold new classical music infused with pop culture. Its core group of professional artists engages the public with compelling performances that stimulate and inspire, offering new and recent works with passion and integrity. The goal is to forge new links between musicians and a growing audience of adventurous music lovers through concerts, commissions, competitions, educational initiatives, dialogue, and our annual Tribeca New Music Festival.
About the DiMenna Center for Classical Music
The DiMenna Center for Classical Music is New York City's premier venue for rehearsal, recording, and learning, having quickly gained a reputation for its superb acoustics, state-of-the-art facilities, and affordability. Owned and operated by Orchestra of St. Luke's, The DiMenna Center is located in Midtown Manhattan, where it shares a building with the Baryshnikov Arts Center. Since opening in 2011, The DiMenna Center has welcomed more than 100,000 visitors, including more than 400 ensembles and artists such as Renée Fleming, Susan Graham, Emanuel Ax, Joshua Bell, Valery Gergiev, James Levine, James Taylor, and Sting. The DiMenna Center also hosts hundreds of neighbors, families, and schoolchildren each year for free community events. For more information, visit DiMennaCenter.org.