FIVE THôT columnist Laura Zander is a book nerd on a perpetual quest to satiate her curiosity and observe the magic of juxtapositions. A veteran of the tech world, she's widely acknowledged as a product, marketing, and operations guru. You can read her other articles on FIVE THôT here, and follow her reading life at loudlatinlaughing.com or @lz
After a day spent meandering Greenwich Village, it was appropriate that I ended up in Bohemian Hall (actually about four miles away in the Upper East Side) for a concert. Fluxing between both definitions of “bohemian,” I went from "socially unconventional person, especially involved in the arts" to the more traditional notion that Bohemian categorizes anyone from what is now known as the Czech Republic. The Bohemian Hall has a long history, built in 1896 to house the Bohemian Benevolent and Literary Association, an organization for eighty Czech community groups. Today the building houses both the BBLA and the Consulate General of the Czech Republic. The Czech consul stood to be recognized at the concert, gave us a stiff bow and a wave. I can only assume that he was responsible for the cellophane-wrapped bouquet of flowers which adorned the stage.
This was the debut of a new group, Eviyan, a combination of three powerhouse solo composer/performers whose sum is greater than the individual parts of Iva Bittova, Evan Ziporyn, and Gyan Riley. Iva is an unmatched talent in songwriting, vocals, and violin. Bubbly, exuberant, she bounces on stage and wears a flowy, shimmering, pajama-like outfit cinched with a beaded belt. Working her magic on violin, with voice, you’re amazed by the sounds she emanates from her throat. To my ear, it’s a blend of Tuvan throat singing, gypsy, classical, jazz. I dub Evan “the snake charmer” as he sways and dances while playing his clarinets, moving between the standard A/B soprano clarinet and the distinct bass clarinet. He seems to be a percussionist at heart, slapping his clarinet or enforcing the beat through his reed and keys. Gyan is a classical guitarist, his solo work showcasing both songwriting talent and dexterity. All three of the artists wrote songs for the show.
Before attending the concert, my front-runner for favorite member of Eviyan was Iva, which is how I’d stumbled on this show. A decade ago, I heard her eponymous album on the radio, and immediately bought it. Iva’s talent is indescribable. The sounds that come out of her mouth are incredible, high-pitched squeals, operetta-like notes, clicks, pops, trills. She turns her vocal chords into an instrument with infinite power. Add to that superb violin skills. She is a force of nature.
And she was fabulous, retaining “favorite member” status for me. But Evan won a big piece of my heart with the way he turned his clarinets into a tumult of percussive elements, screeches, delicate melodies, and his fantastic songwriting skills. I felt Gyan wasn’t able to showcase his talents as much as the others, except for his stunning solo piece. Iva watches during their solos, nods her head approvingly, smiling. For Gyan’s extended solo, she tested the bench behind her, decided it wasn’t to her liking, and folded herself regally onto the floor to listen as Gyan amazed us.
The three have unique talent and mesh well personally and musically. Look for them on the road and do not miss if in your area.