Drawing influences from seemingly every type of music — Western classical, klezmer, tango, jazz, and Gypsy music — Ljova and the Kontraband defy musical boundaries. The musicians of this ensemble hail from Russia, Lithuania, the U.S., and Switzerland, each bringing their own unique energy and joy to the performance. With family backgrounds steeped in traditional folk music, Ljova and the Kontraband embrace the music of their ancestors while ushering these traditions into the future.
Ljova and the Kontraband
Complimentary tickets for Members at the Family level and above (expires August 2020)
Ljova and the Kontraband
The Music of Ljova and the Kontraband represents an intentionally vague approach to musical traditions. All five of us come from different places culturally — Russia, Lithuania, USA, Switzerland — and all of us come from different musical backgrounds — classical, jazz, folk and world, among others. Our music is informed by several musical traditions, and we use them as only a departure point for something new.
In my work as a musical arranger, I’ve worked closely with music and musicians from Argentina (Osvaldo Golijov & Gustavo Santaolalla), China (Wu Man), Mexico (Alondra de la Parra, Natalia Lafourcade, Ely Guerra), Iran (Kayhan Kalhor), India (Asha Bhosle & Kronos Quartet), and Romania (arranging for Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, as well as Brooklyn Rider). The experience of working with musical giants from many different countries & cultures has created a musical language of its own, free of genre and rich on possibilities, melding traditions without fear of any consequences.
While our instrumentation resembles that of an Eastern European village band, Ljova and the Kontraband is a lab for experiment. We’ve collaborated with filmmakers, dancers, string ensembles and visual artists, and actively seek opportunities to perform in non-traditional venues in a collaborative way. Though I may have written most of the music (so far), rehearsals and set-lists are very democratic, and each musician has veto power.
Our performances are portraits of what a New York musical experience can be, running between work and various band rehearsals to performing at concerts in venues major & intimate; at weddings, funerals, dance classes, recording sessions, nursing homes; listening to the music pouring out from your neighbor’s iPod on the subway, trying to find a quiet place to listen to the voices inside your head … Creating music with Ljova and Kontraband is a joyous way to explore music & life experience together.