A Musical Exploration of Eastern Europe
News from Halva
Halva’s third album Musafir will be released in the end of April. You can pre-order it here. Check the calendar for tour dates.
The video of “Musafir”, the first single is out now!
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Halva’s current concert program, “Musafir” (2024, Zephyrus Records) is Halva’s third album and was coproduced with De Centrale, one of Belgium’s most prominent houses for world music. Musafir, with different spellings and pronunciations, is a word that exists in both Romanian and Greek language (among many others) and which was adopted from Turkish, where it in turn appeared after being adopted from Arabic. It has different but connected meanings in each of those languages, such as guest, traveller and stranger.
On the one hand, the title Musafir refers to the vulnerability of ‘the stranger’, to the sadness of leaving home, or being forced to leave; to the suffocating feelings of loneliness, desperation and helplessness that come along with that, and to the inherent fact of being dependent on hospitality in a faraway land. But on the other hand, it also refers to the joy of feeling connected to and accepted by others, the excitement of discovering new worlds and the satisfaction of building a worthy life.
Lyrics by Andriana Achitzanova (vocals, ney) and music by Nicolaas Cottenie explore these topics in a heartfelt and touching way, sometimes inviting the listener to dance and to celebrate the exhilarating joy of being alive, sometimes touching on introversion, sadness and spirituality.
Halva plays music in traditional Eastern European styles and is currently focusing on Greek and Romanian music. The band is unique in its approach, in that it exclusively plays new compositions by bandleader Nicolaas Cottenie, inspired by traditional style and repertoire.
The idea is to search for the greatest possible personal expression while celebrating the beauty of traditional music. The result is music that breathes a deep energy that invites to dance, with a touch of seriousness and moments of spiritual introspection here and there.
It is music that speaks to the mind and the heart. Halva has made a name for enchanting the audience with varied and subtle manipulation of the band sound, and for their expressive and virtuosic playing.
The band was founded in 2018 with the recording of the debut album “The Sweetest Klezmer Orchestra” (published by Galileo), featuring 12 compositions by Nicolaas Cottenie inspired by klezmer music.
The opening piece of the record was included on World Music Network’s “Rough Guide to Jewish Music” (2022).
In the pandemic year of 2020, “Dinner in Sofia” (published by Oriente Musik), Halva’s second album was recorded. It also consists of 12 original compositions and focuses on Romanian, Bulgarian and Greek music and was shortlisted for the prestigious “Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik”.
One of the central pieces of the album, “Khosidl für das neue Leben”, won second prize in the Bubbe Awards 2020, organized by the Instituto da Musica Judaica in Sao Paolo (Brasil) and was featured when Nicolaas Cottenie was guest composer in Akkordeon Magazin in 2020.
Vocals & Ney
Dinner in Sofia is a beautiful, hope-inducing album, not just because the music is compelling and magnificent, but also because Nicolaas Cottenie and his great band show that music can set the example in this polarizing world. This is music which sincerely makes me very happy.
The variety of compositional details is striking. There is an exhilarating formal and timbral diversity, and the playing shows no technical restrictions, something that we haven’t seen since a long time, if ever. […] A whole new klezmer experience, nothing less than that.
Once again a gorgeous album from an ensemble which combines a free handling of styles with respect for tradition in a sublime way