In Bone-Colored Light (2002), Kitzke’s second work for Zeitgeist, pays homage to the sense of clarity and healing found in the stark and pure angled light that illuminates the American landscape of a late afternoon on a cloudless day.
Jerome Kitzke lives in New York City but grew up along the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan in Milwaukee, where he was born in 1955. Since his first work in 1970, he has thought himself to be as much a storyteller as he is a composer. Some of the stories are about life’s personal roads, like The Redness of Blood and Sunflower Sutra which both express the composer’s love for his blood family. Many, however, like Haunted Americaand The Paha Sapa Give-Back are about the roads that go looking for what it means to be an American early in the 21st Century, especially as it relates to the connection between how we live on this land and the way we came to live on it. Kitzke’s music celebrates American Vitality in its purest forms. It thrives 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.
His music has been performed in North and South American, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Australia by many different ensembles and soloists, including Mr. Kitzke himself, and has been featured twice on WNYC’s New Sounds Live with John Schaefer. Mr. Kitzke has been a fellow at the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, the Millay Colony, the Civitella Ranieri Center, the Copland House, the Bellagio Study and Conference Center, the Ucross Foundation, the Brush Creek Foundation, Banff, VCCA, Djerassi and the Ledig House. In 2005, he was the Macgeorge Fellow at the University of Melbourne in Australia, where he appeared on ABC Radio’s The Morning Show with Andrew Ford.
He was a 2010 recipient of a Rockefeller Multi Arts Production Grant for his piece, Buffalo Nation (Bison bison), commissioned by Present Music and premiered by them in April 2012. In 2013 his 1999 CD The Character of American Sunlight was rereleased on the Innova label and his new CD The Paha Sapa Give-Back was released on the Innova label in July 2014. Interviews of Mr. Kitzke appeared early in 2015 in New Music Box with Frank Oteri and Fanfare Magazine with Robert Carl. In November of 2015, Tribeca New Music presented two concerts of Mr. Kitzke’s music at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music in New York City in honor of his 60th birthday. Included was the premiere of For Pte Tokahewin Ska, an honor piece for Kitzke’s friend, the Oglala Lakota activist Charlotte Black Elk.
In the summer of 2017 the Fales Library’s Downtown Collection at NYU in New York City began archiving Kitzke’s life’s work. In October of 2017 he was a Director’s Guest Fellow at Civitella Ranieri in Umbria in Italy. In October of 2018 Treibeca New Music presented a concert of Kitzke’s complete repertoire for amplified speaking pianist (1994-2009) as well as the premiere of A Lament and Cry for These United States, for pianist Kathleen Supove and oboist Keve Wilson. Currently he is writing a piece for NakedEye Ensemble from Lancaster, PA. His music is recorded on the Innova, New World, Starkland, and Mode labels and published by Peer Music in New York and Hamburg.
This performance took place at Inn-fest 2018.
Inn-fest, the innova label showcase, came to the Twin Cities April 27-28, 2018 and featured a smorgasbord of local and national acts from its roster of visionary artists. Co-presented with Zeitgeist, Inn-fest was a three-day celebration at Studio Z in Lowertown Saint Paul that showed the range of groundbreaking music on the label, tied to brand new and recently released albums. Artists from as far afield as India, China, Syria, Ohio, Woodbury, and Golden Valley converged to make this a harmonious gathering. From pancultural mashups and laptop-percussion dialogues, to what a sax can do in a single breath and the world of possibilities with a bassoon reed, there was enough to pique any listener’s curiosity.
Innova, the record label of the St. Paul-based American Composers Forum, is the premier label for American new music. Innova’s catalog of nearly 600 titles encompasses diverse genres, concepts, and approaches — all somehow non-conformist, individualistic, and groundbreaking. More than just a record label, innova coaches artists throughout the process of releasing their work into the wider world. They also produce occasional live events such as at The Stone and National Sawdust in New York, and Meridian Gallery in San Francisco. Now Inn-fest arrives in its own back yard to showcase the talent we have in the Twin Cities, mixing local and visiting artists with recent releases on the label.