Kitka requests support for the commissioning, premiere performances, and recording of I will remember everything. An evening-length work, I will remember everything will be composed and directed by Eric Banks. The piece will premiere June 20-22, 2014 at St. Gregory’s Church, San Francisco and The Chapel of the Chimes in Oakland as part of the 17th National Queer Arts Festival, and New Music Bay Area’s Annual Garden of Memory. Following these performances, Kitka and Banks will record the work, to be distributed by Naxos. Negotiations are underway for a Bay Area CD release concert, co-presented by the Jewish Music Festival during Women’s History Month 2015. Additional engagements for the work are being pursued as part of a CD release tour, and three other ensembles (Vox Femina, LA Lorelei, Boston; and The Esoterics, Seattle) have committed to repeat performances.
I will remember everything gives voice to the long-censored love poems of “Russia’s Sappho”, Sophia Parnok. Born to a Jewish intellectual family, Parnok was Russia’s first openly lesbian poet. Parnok authored five volumes of poetry, numerous translations, and the libretti of several operas, one of which became a major hit at The Bolshoi Theater. Parnok was also, for a time, the lover of Marina Tsvetaeva, one of Russia’s most cherished poets. Their passionate affair is recorded in Parnok’s first book of verse, published in 1916. It took 12 more years of frankly drawn love before Soviet censors deemed Parnok’s voice unlawful. Unable to publish after 1928, and without the support of Russia’s literary establishment, Parnok fell into oblivion.
I will remember everything tells Parnok’s story through the poems she wrote to the women she loved, including Tsvetaeva. Banks writes: “I chose 28 poems and verse fragments to stand as the libretto. Together they form a chronological narrative of the poet’s writing between 1903 and 1933. I also translated the poems, which will be sung in both Parnok’s mother tongue and in English. As a nod to Parnok’s heritage, I chose to set her poetry in four Russian Jewish musical modes. With this piece I hope to convey something of the beauty, intensity, and tragedy of Parnok’s life—and to give long-overdue recognition to the poet’s substantial literary gifts.”
Kitka has deep ties to the Black Sea region where Parnok lived, having traveled there to perform and collect traditional repertoire. Over the past decade and a half, Kitka has also demonstrated a serious commitment to new music, having collaborated with more than 30 composers, including David Lang, Chen Yi, Pauline Oliveros, Mariana Sadovska, Richard Einhorn, and Meredith Monk.
On the occasion of the premiere of I will remember everything at the National Queer Arts Festival, Kitka and Banks also stand as devoted allies of the rights of women and sexual minorities. Russia’s recent anti-LGBT propaganda law and the surge in hate crimes against the LGBT community are a disturbing reminder of the vital work that remains to be done before Parnok’s example of free and unabashed expression is embraced instead of punished.