photo by Thorne

Elektra Kurtis-Stewart is a violinist and composer of Greek origin and international upbringing. Raised in Poland in an Egyptian-Greek family, she grew up learning about her native culture and listening intensively to Greek traditional and European Classical music. A graduate of the Warsaw Conservatory, Ms.Kurtis later performed with the Warsaw Grand Opera Orchestra and with "Ya Sou", an improvisational World Music Ensemble.


In 1979 Elektra Kurtis moved to Helsinki, Finland. During her residency in Finland, Ms. Kurtis performed in a wide range of musical environments including several chamber music ensembles, symphony orchestras and ethno-music groups (Greek and Gypsy). She also developed her own free-improvisational trio and worked with such notable Finnish contemporary composers as Edward Vesala and Toni Edelman performing and recording their music in concerts, theatrical and television productions and radio broadcasts.


Since making her home in New York, Elektra has worked with such stellar artists as Gerry Mulligan, Paquito d'Rivera, Lionel Hampton and Max Roach. In 1991 Ms.Kurtis-Stewart toured with legendary Latin artist Israel "Cachao" Lopez. She has performed with contemporary composers Anthony Davis, John Zorn, Henry Threadgill, Akua Dixon and Carman Moore in venues such as the Knitting Factory, the Next Wave Festival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center, Apollo Teatre. She has also been a member of a Greek traditional music group under the leadership of guitarist Vangelis Fampas, and appeared in the New York tri-state area with the Hudson Valley, Greenwich, Merrick, Longar Ensemble and Harlem Festival symphony orchestras


Today Elektra Kurtis-Stewart continues to work with symphony orchestras such as the Harlem Festival and Brooklyn Philharmonic as well as with ethno-music artists. In the past year, she has played Arabic music with the Near Eastern Music Ensemble under the leadership of oud and violin player Simon Shaheen, and performed with Lester Bowie's Feelharmonic, singer Shirley Horn, and the New World Spirit Jazz Ensemble, lead by percussionist Ray Barreto.

Most recently Elektra performed in Paris, France as special guest in trombonist Craig Harris' jazz,hip-hop,rap,poetry and song project and participated in a performnce celebrating Black History Month, 1997 with Nona Hendrix and Erykah Badu,among others. She may be heard on Steve Coleman's double CD Genesis&The Opening of the Way released by BMG in January, 1998


Ensemble Elektra, formed and lead by Elektra Kurtis represents a synthesis of her varied musical experiences, fusing contemporary jazz and western classical with funk/rock, Latin and ethno-music from Greece, Egypt and Poland. Widely acclaimed, Ensemble Elektra recently appeared in Finland at the Tampere Jazz Happening, a performance that also was carried by the Finnish Radio.

In 1998 Ensemble Elektra released a CD "LIVE in'97" from live performances recorded in 1997 at the Knitting Factory and at the Internet Cafe in NYC and they are greeting the year 2000 with "THE BOOK of TIME", their newest release on Milo Records

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