Elektra Kurtis & Ensemble Elektra Debut BRIDGES FROM THE EAST Tonight at Symphony Space
Violinist, composer and educator Elektra Kurtis has an expansive multi-cultural background. Of Greek origin, she was raised in Poland and graduated from the Warsaw Conservatory at Miodowa, prior to completing her studies in Finland at the Sibelius Academy of Music in Helsinki.
As a NYC resident for over twenty years, Elektra and her own group, Ensemble Elektra (featuring violinist Curtis Stewart; clarinetist Lefteris Bournias; drummer Reggie Nicholson; and bassist Kenny Davis), is dedicated to bridging cultural borders and genres of music, using the essence of Mediterranean music, spiced with Polish, Greek and Arabic flavor, based in contemporary jazz and classical music forms.
With the goal of bringing a fresh perspective to music, mixing the modern beat of NYC life with the ensemble's multi-ethnic roots, Elektra is proud to announce that she will be making her debut performance with her ensemble at the prestigious Leonard Nimoy Thalia at Peter Norton at Symphony Space (2537 Broadway at 95th Street) next Wednesday, July 16th, presenting her new work, "Bridges From The East".
Here's a link to the event: http://www.symphonyspace.org/event/8361/Music/elektra-kurtis-ensemble-elektra
"Bridges From The East" features compositions by Elektra separated into three sections - "Rhapsody in Greek", "Dedications" and "Polish Fantasy on Folk Themes". According to the composer, the title of the event, "Refers to how I compose and view myself in the world, and in music. With my multicultural upbringing and experiences, I constantly find what connects the many music traditions and genres and see the similarities of emotions and expressions. I consider myself as being from the East. Eastern Mediterranean - Greece - and living in the eastern US, playing eastern modes, and non-Western music, and the list could go on. 'Bridges from the East' is like casting a rainbow from one end of horizon to the other."
Having performed throughout the US, Europe and Finland in numerous chamber ensembles, symphony orchestras, ethno-music ensembles (Greek and Gypsy music), Elektra is thrilled to have the opportunity to perform at Symphony Space with her own world jazz ensemble. "I have wanted to play there since I first visited New York City in 1984. I was staying on 92nd Street and passed by this hall every day. I thought, one day I will perform my music here!"
Here's a link to check out an EPK with performances of Elektra Kurtis & Ensemble Elektra: http://youtu.be/qpk9WeFhzvM
Integrating the musical traditions and style she has experienced and assimilated throughout her life, Kurtis' inspiration comes from jazz, blues, Greek folk and Rembetiko music with its taksims, as well as from Bartok, Stravinsky, and Bach, among others. She started, at home, in a family of Egyptian Greek refugees in Poland, learning about her heritage. She grew up in Warsaw listening to a broad range of music from avant-garde contemporary music created in the sixties and seventies, to Bartok, to jazz recordings from the US, to Greek folk music. Later, as a student of classical violin in Finland, she also studied harmony, analysis and classical music forms and performed concerts, in theatrical and television productions, radio broadcasts and recorded the music of notable Finnish composers such as Edward Vesala and Toni Edelman.
Finally making New York City her home, Elektra's music expresses her view of the world through the lens of her own special style and technique. She has performed with such stellar jazz luminaries as Lester Bowie, Gerry Mulligan, Paquito d'Rivera, Lionel Hampton, Shirley Horn, Ray Barreto, Max Roach. She toured with the legendary Cuban bassist Israel "Cachao" Lopez and observed his use of montunos, and studied arabic classical music with Simon Shaheen and played in his Near Eastern Ensemble. She has performed the music of contemporary composers such as John Rutter, Anthony Davis, John Zorn, Akua Dixon-Turree, Carman Moore, and Henry Threadgill in venues such as the Knitting Factory, Irving Plaza, the Next Wave Festival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center, Apollo Theatre. Always staying true to her roots, she has also been a member of a Greek traditional music group under the leadership of
guitarist Vangelis Fampas.
With her group, Ensemble Elektra, whose members' diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds (African, Caribbean, Greek and Polish American) bring their own flavor to the music, she has released three records - 2000's "The Book of Time"; "AFROdite's Smile", which was released in 2005; and 2010's "Cutting Through".
Recently receiving a grant from LMCC to help support her July show at Symphony Space, followed by a performance on August 12 at the Cornelia Street Café, Elektra's goal is to reach listeners far and wide. With her unique blend of jazz, blues, and classical, with African, Egyptian, Greek, and Mediterranean improvisation practices in folk music, she celebrates the human spirit and the universal need of spontaneous expression through music.
For more info, go to www.elektrakurtis.com.
Image via Facebook.