The international ensemble HALVA around the Belgian violinist Nicolaas Cottenie is on the trail of the diverse connections between traditional Yiddish music and the music of Southeastern Europe. The main focus is on musical inspirations from Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania and Western European classical music.

The result is energetic, joyful and lively music that often invites you to dance, but every now and then takes on a more serious, withdrawn tone. The result is a sound that is rather untypical for Balkan or Yiddish bands, which corresponds more to that of a classical ensemble or an acoustic jazz band.

Halva evokes the poetic beauty of the premodern world and a time when the only repetitive sounds were trance-inducing rhythms of traveling dance orchestras. Nicolaas Cottenie's expressive compositions, played with great virtuosity and passion, complement each other to a multifaceted and gripping music with many surprising twists and turns. Moments of ecstatic energy contrast with subtle manipulation of the timbres in moments of introversion and reflection.


The ensemble:

The violinist Nicolaas Cottenie, who was born in Gent in 1983 but currently lives with his family in Leipzig, began playing the violin at the age of five. After studying different disciplines, he works as a musician and music ethnologist. One of his areas is Yiddish, as well as Greek and Romanian music and their intersections. His diverse projects include music, film, dance, musical theater, silent film accompaniment and more, and he has won many awards for them.

Born in Darmstadt, Alina Bauer began playing the violin as a child and later studied jazz violin at the Conservatoire Royal in Brussels. She came to klezmer through the band Bakad Kapelye. Her most important Klezmer projects are Halva, the Duo Azind and their collaboration with the Klezmer Orchestra Erfurt.

On the cello you can hear Eline Duerinck, who is at home in genres from classical to jazz to world music and works in many different projects from the European Philharmonic Orchestra to the Trio Warped Time Ensemble.

Anja Günther is one of the most important young clarinetists in the German klezmer scene. With the band Sher on a Shier and the Klezmer Orchestra Erfurt she devoted herself for many years to the sound of the old klezmer bands and produced two albums for the Raumer Records label.

Robbe Kieckens grew up in Rwanda, where he developed his love for percussion. He has no formal music education, but has studied with many masters from different genres. He is currently a member of the Lâmekân Ensemble, the Soolmaan Quartet, the Tristan Driessens-Robbe Kieckens Duo, the Lara Rosseel Band and HiM

Israeli accordionist Ira Shiran started playing his instrument at the age of eight and later studied music in Jerusalem. His focus as an accordionist is the music of the Balkans and the Sinti and Roma, which he learned in workshops on site. He has played as a soloist and orchestra member in several symphony orchestras in Israel and has lived in Berlin since October 2016.

Marine Goldwaser was strongly influenced by her family's Yiddish theater. She plays different flutes from the recorder to Romanian flutes, the clarinet and kaval. She is interested in the traditional music of Romania, which she has explored while traveling and which she brings to life in her trio Le Petit Mish-Mash.

In addition to the music on CD and digitally, the Halva Scorebook includes the sheet music for 23 compositions by Nicolaas Cottenie.



Released thru Oriente:


Dinner in Sofia (2021), DANZ114

The Halva Scorebook (2021), RIENMS3114


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