Avant-garde musician Iva Bittova collaborates with New York's Bang on a Can|
The Romany violinist and signer Iva Bittova is one of the Czech Republic's
leading avant-garde musicians. She is also well respected abroad,
particularly in the United States, and this week launched a new album
recorded with New York ensemble Bang on a Can All Stars.
The title track on Iva Bittova's new album "Elida" features
lyrics based on a poem by the Czech poet Vera Chase. But "Elida"
was also the name of Iva's grandmother's favourite brand of soap, and the
cover recreates the old-style packaging.
Iva Bittova: "I'm always looking for something which has several
meanings, which is playful with words, and where there is also some humour
in the lyrics."
Iva Bittova who grew up in rural Moravia and released her first album in
1991. Her latest CD was recorded in New York with new music pioneers Bang
on a Can. How has she been enjoying the collaboration?
"The experience has been getting to know another language of
musicians, another space, and to get very close to one another. To spend
time and to play and to improvise and develop something new together. I
say you can always learn something new. And they are very professional and
very good musicians"
Evan Ziporyn: "We knew of her and we invited her to play on one of
our marathon concerts, and she was even more of an amazing in person than
on record. She really brought everything to the table, kind of jumped in
in a very intense way."
Evan Ziporyn is the leader of Bang on a Can, who have performed with Iva
Bittova in such prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall. This week they played
with her at Prague's Archa theatre, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
"A very full house, very enthusiastic people, and there was something
about feeling that we were on her home turf that made it very
inspirational. She has a way of opening up that makes you feel very free
as well. I feel like she's the brightest light on the stage, but I feel
like that light kind of extends to everybody that she's working
Iva Bittova's music - especially some of her singing - appeals to a
particular, non-mainstream audience.
Evan Ziphoryn: "She has a very good cult reputation. In other words,
I don't know that she's that well know to the general public. The thing
that's impressive is that her fans are not just new music people or
musical intellectuals, but a lot of ordinary people who don't normally
listen to particularly avant-garde music."
And would it be fair to say that she is better known in the States than in
the Czech Republic, or Europe? Iva Bittova again.
"It's not like I'm more known there, but maybe there's more interest
from that side. But I have a very beautiful audience everywhere, so I can
say I'm quite happy. And also I have many opportunities to play, so a full
schedule and a lot of travelling and a lot of nice faces."
For more information go to www.bittova.com or