Iva Bittova and Others Perform in Stone Ridge on Saturday

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Iva Bittova

With the present administration and its minions seemingly intent on making our country into a totalitarian state, it’s been helpful for me to ruminate on the 2014 story I did about local avant garde vocalist and violinist Iva Bittova. Born in the Czech Republic, she was part of the experimental Prague underground of musicians and artists who begat the Velvet Revolution, a movement that saw poet Vaclav Havel become the country’s president. “Despite the attempts of the country’s Iron Curtain government to stamp it out,” I wrote, “from the late 1960s to the early 1980s a boldly dissenting arts subculture thrived in the hidden shadows of Czechoslovakia.” As a perhaps unwitting example of what can occur in the face of such seemingly insurmountable suppression, Bittova has been especially active of late, releasing a new album and performing locally; she, vocalist/guitarist Timothy Hill, and pianist/percussionist Antonin Fajt will perform and conduct a voice workshop this Saturday at MaMA (Marbletown Multi-Arts).

Bittova’s style fuses early and modern classical music, rock, and the folk and gypsy melodies of her native land, where she rose to fame with the alternative rock band Dunaj. Since emigrating to the U.S., she has performed and recorded with Bobby McFerrin, Bill Frisell, Fred Frith, and Bang on a Can All-Stars, and released solo albums on Nonesuch and ECM Records. Hill, an early pioneer of harmonic singing with David Hykes and the Harmonic Choir, has been called a virtuoso of the technique by the New York Times and has worked with Pete Seeger, Jeff Buckley, John Cage, and Pauline Oliveros. Fajt, Bittova’s son, is a pianist and percussionist, and, like Bittova and Hill, a composer.

Here’s a cut from At Home, the new album by Bittova and her band Cikori:

Iva Bittova, Timothy Hill, and Antonin Fajt will perform at MaMA in Stone Ridge on March 11 at 8pm; the voice workshop will take place from 1 to 6pm. The workshop is open to all and will consist of two two-hour sessions separated by a one-hour break. The cost is $100 for the workshop and concert, or $20 for the concert only. For more information, call (845) 687-6090 or visit http://www.cometomama.org/.

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