Elektra Kurtis - the composer
Violinist, educator and composer Elektra Kurtis’s inspiration comes from Jazz and ethnic music of her heritage, as well as from Bartok, Stravinsky, Bach and more contemporary composers. Her goal is to integrate all the musical traditions and styles she has experienced throughout her life. She started, at home, in a family of Greek refugees from Egypt to Poland, learning about her Greek heritage. Elektra grew up in Warsaw listening mostly to avant-garde contemporary music created in the sixties and seventies and to Bartok, to Jazz recordings from the US and to the folk music of Greece, Africa and Tibet. Later, as a student of classical violin at the Sibelius Academy of Music in Helsinki, Finland, Elektra studied harmony, analysis and classical music forms along with classical violin repertoire. Finally making New York City her home, Elektra performed with and observed the work of many jazz luminaries and contemporary jazz composers like Henry Threadgill, Steve Coleman, Bob Stewart, Lester Bowie, Leroy Jenkins, Billy Bang and more. She draws her inspiration from them and from her ethnic heritage. Elektra toured with the Cuban bassist Cachao Lopez and observed his use of montunos in Cuban danson. She studied arabic classical music with Simon Shaheen and played in his Near Eastern Ensemble. All these influences come together in Elektra’s compositions. her music expresses her view of the world through the lens of her own special style and technique. She feels that her life’s mission is to bring the diverse cultures and styles of her experience together, creating a new current in New York’s contemporary jazz.
Elektra Kurtis - the violinist
Violinist and composer of Greek origin, leader of Ensemble Elektra, Ms. Kurtis graduated from the music conservatory in Warsaw, Poland, and the Sibelius Academy of Music in Helsinki, Finland, majoring in violin performance and pedagogy. Elektra has performed throughout the US, Europe and Finland in numerous chamber , symphony, ethnic and improvising ensembles, including her own world jazz group, Ensemble Elektra. She has worked with Warsaw Grand Opera Orchestra, "Yia Sou" (an improvisational World Music group), Brooklyn Philharmonics, New England Symphonic Ensemble, Harlem Festival Orchestra and more. During her residency in Helsinki, Elektra performed the music of notable Finnish composers Edward Vesala and Toni Edelman. In, New York City she has worked with such jazz artists as Lester Bowie, Gerry Mulligan, Paquito d'Rivera, Lionel Hampton , Shirley Horn, Ray Barreto, Max Roach, and with the arabic music masters Simon Shaheen and Bassam Saba. She has toured with the legendary Cuban bassist Israel "Cachao" Lopez, and performed the music of contemporary American composers such as John Rutter, Anthony Davis, John Zorn, among others. Ms. Kurtis' recording credits include CDs of Steve Coleman, Joe Daley, Adam Rudolph, hip hop artist’s Nas. Her own compositions for Ensemble Elektra are recorded on CDs: The Book of Time (Milo Records, 2000) and AFROdite’s Smile (MR, 2005) Cutting Through ( MR, 2010) and Bridges from the East (MR, 2015)