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
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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