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Hailed by Billboard Magazine as "one of New York’s fastest-rising composers and instrumentalists", Ljova (Lev Zhurbin) stands at the forefront of his generation as the premiere bridge between the world’s musical cultures. Ljova was born in 1978 in Moscow, Russia, and moved to New York with his parents, composer Alexander Zhurbin and writer Irena Ginzburg, in 1990. He divides his time between performing as a violist in diverse groups ranging from his own Ljova And The Vjola Contraband, to string quartets, jazz combos and gypsy bands; studying and arranging music for the likes of Yo-Yo Ma, the Kronos Quartet, Matmos and Jay-Z; and composing original music for film, TV, theatre and the concert stage.
Ljova is the author of more than 70 compositions for classical, jazz, and folk ensembles, as well as scores to three feature and over a dozen short films. He is co-founder of Mediant Music, a new company specializing in music for advertising and media. Recently, Ljova was one of six composers invited to participate in the Sundance Institute’s Film Composers Lab.
As an arranger, Ljova has completed dozens of musical arrangements for Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, the Kronos Quartet, the rapper Jay-Z, Bond, Matmos, and others. Resulting from these collaborations are arrangements of musics from Azerbaijian, China, India, Iran, Japan, Russia, Tanzania, as well as gypsy music from Romania and France.
Ljova has recently released his acclaimed debut recording, Vjola: World On Four Strings, featuring original and traditional music, on Kapustnik Records. Previously, he has recorded with Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble on the bestselling Sony Classical CD "Silk Road Journeys: Beyond the Horizon", and with The Andalucian Dogs on the Deutsche Grammophon CD "Ayre", featuring the music of Luciano Berio and Osvaldo Golijov. In addition, Ljova has recorded two albums of improvised chamber music with saxophonist Assif Tsahar on Hopscotch Records, and three CDs with easy-listening pianist George Davidson on GDP. He has performed on tour with Savion Glover, and recorded with composer Ryuchi Sakamoto, producer Guy Sigsworth and the Electric Light Orchestra.
Ljova grew up in a household filled with music, books and an unquenchable hunger for culture. His father, Alexander Zhurbin, is Russia’s foremost composer for film and musical theatre; his mother, Irena Ginzburg, is a distinguished poet, writer and journalist. He began violin lessons at age four with Galina Turchaninova, a celebrated pedagogue who also taught violinists Maxim Vengerov and Vadim Repin. When not practicing, the pre-teen Ljova regularly overran his record player and played street hockey.
Ljova is a graduate of The Juilliard School, where he was a pupil of Samuel Rhodes (violist of the Juilliard String Quartet). He has won numerous prizes as a composer, and appeared several times as soloist with orchestras, including as a winner of the Menschenkinderpreis from RTL TV (Germany).
In addition to a busy career as a composer and arranger, Ljova maintains a rigorous performing schedule as a violist. He can be heard most often his ensemble Ljova And The Vjola Contraband, the Gypsy party band Romashka, the viola/cello duo Joint Custody, with Walter Thompson’s SP4TET, as well as many other freelance groups and projects. Ljova performs on a viola made by Alexander Tulchinsky in Long Island, NY.