Halva - A Musical Exploration of Eastern Europe

Halva is the international ensemble with which I am investigating the links between traditional klezmer music and the many cultures surrounding the Ashkenazim (the Yiddish-speaking Jews in Eastern-Europe): Greek, Hungarian, Turkish and even Western Classical Music.

Thanks to a truly amazing crew of musicians, the music breathes a deep energy that invites to dance, with a touch of seriousness and moments of spiritual introspection here and there. I hope that it has become music that can speak to the mind and the heart.

On our first album titled “The Sweetest Klezmer Orchestra”, despite the myriad of influences, Halva’s music is still very clearly klezmer music, and at the same time we are exploring the boundaries of the genre, searching for a fusion between Western and modal concepts of consonance and dissonance. It was published and distributed by Galileo Music.

We are currently working on our second album, in which we will (probably, because in the end you never know where exactly it’s going) move slightly away from the typical klezmer sound, and incorporate more influences from Romanian and Greek music. To achieve that, we will be working with some fantastic guest musicians- watch this page!

If you wonder what Halva sounds like, you can check out some of the videos from our first tour here. Or even better, you can order the album here. You can listen to some of the music on the album “The Sweetest Klezmer Orchestra” here.

If you wonder what other people thought about the music, you can check out concert and album reviews here:

“Again and again the boundaries of sound and genre are explored, which happens in the refined arrangements in an unprecedented way: it is a totally new experience of klezmer music, nothing less than that. Bandleader and composer Nicolaas Cottenie is renovating klezmer music, for which he found an exquisite team. His courageous project is impressive in its determination and overflowing ideas.”

Giessener Allgemeine

“An album that I can barely get enough of.”

Rootstime Magazine

“This truly is one that is not to be forgotten!”

New Folk Sounds

“A complete klezmer album, offering a lot both to the connoisseur studying and recognising different influences and to the amateur looking for smooth dances and real melancholy.”


“This is an amazing orchestra and a sublime album.”

– Moors Magazine