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Ensemble Elektra / Bio

I am the leader of Ensemble Elektra. I live in New York City and play violin in various music styles: classical, jazz, avant-garde, hip-hop, rock, Latin, Greek and Arabic. I stay happy this way. In my compositions, I weave sounds I hear in New York’s neighborhoods and stages into the music I know from my European background.

I came to New York City via Greece, Poland and Finland and I constantly discover how close seemingly different music traditions are. When asked what style I compose in I would have to call it “World Jazz-Blues”.

I spent my childhood in Warsaw, Poland where I was part of a Greek community of refugees and a student of classical violin. Greek music was my first love, especially the folk from Epirus, the clarinet playing style, and the melismatic “eastern” sounding subculture songs called Rebetika. They were outlawed in Greece at the time because of the lyrics - very existentialistic – like the American blues my brother listened to with his friends. My older brother and I listened to the music he brought home: jazz, blues, free jazz, Tibetan monks, Bulgarian Chorus, Indian Ragas, Greek folk, etc. He inspired me to build my knowledge and my own unique musical vocabulary.

First I played mandolin and piano. When I was 12 I fell in love with the violin. It took my parents a while to agree, but soon I had a violin and was practicing like a maniac to catch up with what I missed starting “late” in music school. I was a bit of an outcast, my listening preferences were odd to my classmates: Greek folk, jazz, Bartok, Stravinsky, avant-garde and most contemporary classical music at the time: Lutoslawski, Penderecki, Cage, etc. I was never happy playing only one style of music.

At 16 I joined in my brother’s world music group Yeia Sou. This was far before the term “world music” existed.

General Info

Band Members
Elektra Kurtis-violin, Curtis Stewart - violin, Lefteris Bournias - clarinet, Panagiotis Andreou - bass, Kahlil Kwame Bell - drums, Babatunde Don Eaton - percus
Artist Name
Ensemble Elektra
Profile Page
World / World / /Blues

Contact Info

New York, NY