Julia Ulehla

A vocalist, musician, actress, translator and ethno-musicologist with Czech roots. Great-granddaughter of the legendary professor Vladimír Úlehla. She recorded the unique album Dálava together with the respected guitarist and composer Aram Bajakian (John Zorn, Lou Reed, Marc Ribot) in 2014. It features their selection of Moravian folk songs from the professor’s book Živá Píseň from 1949.

Julia Ulehla’s project Dálava is a musical experiment with guitarist Aram Bajakian in which unharmonized Moravian folk melodies collected and transcribed by her great-grandfather, and the vivid, (extra)ordinary scenarios of their texts are used to conjure character and story-based sound worlds. Dr. Vladimír Úlehla used his expertise in the biological sciences to perform an in-depth and novel study of the folk songs from Strážnice, and he considered the songs to be living organisms that were intimately related to their ecological environs. Inspired by Vladimír’s ideas of living song, but confronted with the reality of a deep cultural heritage severed by diaspora (she was born in the US to Czech and American parents), in the project Dálava she has taken the seeds of the folk songs and grown them in the ecological and artistic environs of urban North America (first New York, now Vancouver). Along with musicians from avant-garde musical communities in these cities, she created musical microcosms around the song transcriptions, in an effort to re-animate, re-contextualize, and re-oral-ize the old archival song materials into sound and body. Dálava has been called “a masterpiece” (http://acousticmusic.com), „groundbreaking“ (straight.com), “a work of creativity and imagination par excellence” (http://inner-magazine.com), and described as combining “the richness of the old with the freshness and boldness of the new like no one else has done before” (somethingelsereviews.com).

Julia is currently a doctoral candidate in ethnomusicology at the University of British Columbia, and she holds a BA in Music from Stanford University and an MM in Vocal Performance and Literature from the Eastman School of Music. Besides actively performing with Dálava, other recent collaborators include Darius Jones (as an original member of his Elizabeth-Caroline Unit), Samita Sinha (in Enkidu), and the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards—arguably the world’s greatest laboratory theatre for the exploration of the actor’s presence and the transmission of oral and song-based culture—with whom she spent five years as an actress. During the past two years, she has presented her academic and performance research around Dálava in concert halls, academic colloquia, clubs, music festivals, workshops and classrooms.