Jennifer Anya Castelli
Rodyna, or “Family,” is a gathering of talented artists and musicians who play eclectic folk music from regions in and around Eastern Europe. Its members Jennifer Anya Castelli, Marta Jaremko, Caty Bentler, Kazuki Kozuru-Salifoska, and Joseph Castelli bring together the love for the music and each other onto their performance. They love the nuanced musical complexity and diversity of the music borne of Eastern Europe – tapestry of the sounds from the East and the West – and hope to emulate its beauty well.
Jennifer Anya Castelli
Jennifer Anya Castelli was born into an Eastern European family in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Growing up, she was inspired by her mother’s highly tuned artistic nature, her love of sustainable living, and her spirituality.
Tapping into her heritage when she was 5, Jennifer joined the Eastern European folk dancing/ music group (JR.Tamburitzans of Pittsburgh), at which time she also took up the violin.
Jennifer has spent her entire life performing and studying the folk arts, she feels it’s a vital part of her identity and an expression of her true self. She has studied and performed west African drumming and is a professional belly dancer who also plays the Zills and Turkish spoons. She currently enjoys playing the Balalaika, Kobza, and singing with Rodnya.
Marta has a passion for her Ukrainian heritage and all it encompasses, especially Ukrainian music and its beautiful harmonics. She has been singing most of her life, and no wonder, as she comes from an inspiring musical family where practically everyone sang (opera singer aunt, both parents, brothers, aunts, uncles, and cousins all sang).
In her twenties, she joined the Ukrainian chorus Dumka where she sang for many years (along with many of her family members). With Dumka, she embarked on musical tours of Europe and Ukraine. She then was invited to sing with the women’s vocal ensemble Lastivky, which also toured Ukraine extensively
Marta is also the director of the belly dance troupe Zoryanna which celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2019. Additionally, she is a massage therapist, dance teacher, swimming instructor, and production editor at a publishing company.
Marta is extremely proud and excited to be part of the folk band Rodyna! She dedicates her performances to her wonderful parents, Halyna and Myroslaw, and all the singing ancestors who came before them.
When asked why she dances, her answer has always been because it keeps her alive.
Caty has been active in the arts since at a young age. Music, dance, theater and art have always been a way for her to connect with the world around her.
Not having been in a band before, Caty is excited for a chance to connect to her family both related and chosen, and share her passion for the arts with others.
Kazuki has been a student of doumbek/darbuka for over 20 years under several notable teachers – Souhail Kaspar, Susu Pampanin, and Seido Salifoski among them. She loves the nuanced balance between control and primal energy near-eastern percussion brings out in her.
On top of middle eastern and Balkan percussion, Kazuki also studied Latin conga at Drummers Collective in New York City, in order to deepen her sense of rhythms and to understand their complexity. She has been performing in New York City area and beyond in various styles, from Rebetiko, Balkan folkloric, American Tribal bellydance, off-Broadway show, Shakespeare theater company, to Renaissance Faires in New York and Connecticut.
A nerd who is also a fashion designer by trade, Kazuki enjoys the imagery drumming and music creates in her mind. More music she plays, kinder and gentler she finds herself becoming.
Joseph was born in the Bronx, NYC. Growing up in New Jersey, he was exposed to art and music at an early age; first with his Cuban mother’s love of painting and original art, then later on with his father’s passion for music and photography. Joseph started playing the guitar when he was 16 and joined his first band at age 18. Since then, he has been a sought-after artist and performer, recording and writing original music.
His first exposure to the sitar came as he was introduced to the belly dance scene; the beating drums and melodic dancing inspired him to learn, and then to perform the instrument. To Joseph, his music is about bringing people together, and what he loves most is to sculpt a mood for his audience.
Joseph has had the pleasure of performing the sitar on Broadway as well as with a multitude of artists and musicians. He has been trained in and has studied; Electric Guitar, Classical Guitar, Sitar, Violin, drum kit, Voice, Flamenco Guitar, Saz, Jazz (Guitar), Bouzouki, and the Banjo.
Joseph has informal experience with 20 different kinds of instruments and has formally been a member of 14 different musical bands.