Elektra Kurtis and Ensemble Elektra

Elektra Kurtis and Ensemble Elektra

 New York City, New York, USA

Ensemble Elektra brings a fresh perspective to jazz, blending the modern beat of New York CityÕs life with its leader's multi-ethnic roots. The all star musiciansÕ repertoire of original compositions fuses contemporary jazz, western classical, and funk with ethnic music from Greece and North Africa


I live in New York City and play violin in a variety of 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 YorkÕs neighborhoods into the music I know from my childhood and from my music studies.

I came to New York from Greece, Poland and Finland and I constantly discover how close music traditions are. When asked what style I compose in I decided to call this music ÒWorld JazzÓ.

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 and the clarinet playing style, and the melismatic ÒeasternÓ sounding songs called Rebetika. They were outlawed in Greece at the time because of the lyrics - very existentialistic Ð 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, 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 ÒlateÓ 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 brotherÕs world music group Yia Sou. This was far before the term Òworld musicÓexisted.

I am a violinist and composer of Greek origin, leader of world fusion group Ensemble Elektra and a string trio Chamber Ensembles. I graduated from Sibelius Academy of Music in Helsinki, Finland in 1986, majoring in violin performance and education and from the School for Strings Suzuki Teachers Course in New York (in 1988). I lived in Poland, Greece and Finland. Now a resident of New York City, I am a faculty at the Harlem School of the Arts and at Hoff Barthelsson School of Music, and work as a freelance violinist in the New YorkÕs tri state area.
I have played with numerous symphony orchestras, most recently: Connecticut Grand Opera and Orchestra, Bronx Symphony Orchestra, New England Symphonic Ensemble and Harlem Festival Orchestra. I have also performed with such notable jazz and world artists as Lester Bowie, Gerry Mulligan, Paquito d'Rivera, Lionel Hampton, Max Roach, Ray Barreto, Simon Shaheen and Israel ÒCachaoÓ Lopez. I have worked with contemporary composers such as Anthony Davis, John Zorn, Henry Threadgill and Craig Harris. In 1997 I recorded with Steve Coleman.
Most recently I played for SerenaÕs Middle Eastern dance company production in New York CityÕs Pantheon Theatre, Henry ThreadgillÕs Agregation Orb performance at the Miller Theater in New York City and as guest with Drum Freaks group lead by Milo Kurtis in Warsaw, Poland. In November 2006 I recorded for NasÕ CDÓHip Hop is DeadÓ on Deaf Jam Records.
My CDs with Ensemble Elektra: AFROditeÕs Smile (2005) and The Book of Time (2000) and Cutting Through (2010) on Milo Records are available on Cd Baby


The Book of Time

Written By: Elektra Kurtis

One day you'll stop and see
how much love you have for me.

One day you'll realize
I'm the one that always

has been closest to your heart,
known your best as well as bad.

Have been happy, have been hurt,
ran away. then hurried back

One day you'll stop and see
how much love you have for me.


Released in January 2010 Cutting Through
AFROdite's Smile 2005 Milo Records
The Book of Time 2000 Milo Records
Live in 1997

Set List

45 Minute Sample Set List/Originals

Taksim Oushshak ~segue to
Book of Time
Taqsim Shawk Afza ~segue to
“Nine for Curtis”

All Original compositions written by: Elektra Kurtis