I started playing piano at the age of six, clarinet at the age of 8, oboe at the age of 16 or so, and accordion at the age of 21.
These days, I dedicate my songwriting energies to The Debutante Hour (and sometimes to the Bushwick Book Club). Since 2004 or so, I have played piano and accordion with Anti-Social Music, and in 2010, I tour managed us on a whirlwind tour to Ukraine. Since 2006, I have worked with the Center for Traditional Music and Dance’s Ukrainian Wave initiative, and sung with the Ukrainian Women’s Voices Choir (directed by Nadia Tarnawsky) and, more recently, Ensemble Hilka. When Franz Nicolay plays with his full band, I play keys and sing backup (and I did that on his album Luck & Courage). In the spring of 2011, I had the good luck to perform Tristan Perich’s gorgeous 5-accordion+electronics piece, “Elevation Maps” in New Mexico and other spots on the east coast with a team of accordionists known (informally) as The Comanches.
In 2010, my bandmate Susan Hwang and I took part in a Yara Arts Group experimental theater piece, directed by Virlana Tkacz, called “Scythian Stones.” The piece ran at LaMaMa theater in NYC in May 2010, and then we travelled with the piece to Kyiv (for GogolFest and a short run at Kyiv Mohyla Academy) and to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. It was a trip.
Shortly after taking up the accordion in 2003, I joined Walter Kühr’s Main Squeeze Orchestra, and had an adventurous few years with that group. In 2006, I fronted a short-lived indie-pop band called Baby Pool (we recorded one frenetic album of heartbreak songs before disbanding). Over the last decade, I have also played with groups such as Romashka, Dvi Zhinki (a beer hall duo with Kamala Sankaram), the Ambitious Orchestra, and Trio Mosiaque (cello, flute, and piano trio – we peaked with a recital at the sublime floating Brooklyn chamber music venue known as Bargemusic).
In the summer of 2011, I taught Ukrainian village style singing at three wonderful summer camps: the California Coast Music Camp, the Augusta Heritage Vocal Week, Puget Sound Guitar Workshop (where, in addition to singing, I also taught a Carpathian Band Lab).
In late 2011, I collaborated with Yevhen Yefremov (of the Kyiv-based ensemble Drevo) to develop the Chornobyl Songs Project for the fall 2011, which was a co-production with the Center for Traditional Music and Dance and the Yara Arts Group. Our group, Hilka, was featured on WNYC’s Soundcheck, and will be releasing an album in 2013. Stay tuned. Two wonderful singers from that project – Eva Salina-Primack and Willa Roberts – and I are now collaborating on a trio called Zozulka.