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University of Iowa News Release

Aug. 12, 2005

Photo: Members of the sextet Kol Shira. Click here for a higher-resolution version of the image.

UI Museum Of Art Hosts Musical Group Kol Shira Aug. 26

Kol Shira, a sextet known for its performances of traditional and contemporary Jewish music, will perform 5:30-7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 26 in the Nancy and Craig Willis Atrium of the University of Iowa Museum of Art (UIMA).

The performance is the first of three "Music in the Museum" events scheduled during the fall semester. The remaining performances will be by singer/songwriter Patrick Brickel, 5:30-7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21; and jazz pianist Dan Knight 5:30-7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18.

Kol Shira is a group of six women who perform in several languages, including Hebrew, English, Ladino, Yiddish and Russian. The group features vocals, flute, guitar, piano, bass, cello and hand-held percussion.

Members of Kol Shira are Julie Anolik Cassel, cello, percussion; Karen Charne, flute, piano, harmonies; Valerie Davine Bills, vocals; Rita Offutt, vocals; Debbie Singer, guitar; and Linda Wertz, electric bass, percussion and harmonies.

For the Aug. 26 performance, Kol Shira will perform music sung by Jewish people from Iraq, Russia, Eastern Europe and Spain. "The music will be an eclectic fusion of Middle Eastern, Latin, gypsy, jazz, folk and classical music," Bills said. "It spans the centuries from Ladino music composed hundreds of years ago to an original piece composed by Kol Shira's own Rita Offutt."

Jim Musser, music reviewer for the Iowa City Press Citizen, described Kol Shira as "remarkable" and "exquisite." At the end of 2004, Musser ranked their latest CD as one of the top six independent releases from the Eastern Iowa area.

Admission is free to the UIMA and to the Kol Shira performance.

The UI Museum of Art, located on North Riverside Drive in Iowa City, is open noon to 9 p.m. Fridays. Public metered parking is available in UI parking lots west and north of the museum.

For more information on the UI Museum of Art visit on the World Wide Web. Information on other UI arts events is available at on the World Wide Web. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, contact

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Peter Alexander, 319-384-0072,