Ljova, Irena, and Alexander Zhurbin at a Paul Simon concert in Moscow in 1989

Checkpoint 45

Ljova, Irena, and Alexander Zhurbin at a Paul Simon concert in Moscow in 1989

Dear Friends,

In the winter of 1977-1978, my parents, composer Alexander Zhurbin and poet Irena Ginzburg embarked on an ambitious collaborative project, the ramifications of which are still unknown, the effects of which are still compounding in front of our eyes. After an initial incubation period, their project came up for air on August 18, 1978, and, as you might expect, I gave my first recital right then and there, performing something along the lines of a “Caprice”. I am grateful to my parents for this gift, for all the life experience it has brought me, to witness the world with open eyes.

These 45 years have been full of blessings — I found a loving, patient partner in Inna, and we have two incredible boys, Benjy and Yosi, who have grown up surrounded by the love of two sets of grandparents. By the time I was our kids’ age, three of my grandparents had slipped away and we had moved an ocean apart from a fourth.

Despite an early apprehension towards daily practicing, I found a calling in composing and playing the fadolín and viola. I’ve had many opportunities to write music, record, arrange, collaborate with so many incredible artists, travel to many places and be in awe of both human invention and natural beauty. If the story of our people is that of constant exodus from one place to another, I feel blessed to call New York home for 33 years, a city that never stops changing and reinventing, a city that has welcomed so many, including us in its stew of local flavor.

In the past year and a half I have spent a lot of precious time playing music with my friends Sabina and Valeriya in our group Trio Fadolín — it has been a real blessing to share the stage with them, to write music for our collective sound, and to have many overlapping projects and histories. We’ve been working on a few projects that I hope we can present soon.

Getting this far down in a long post, you might expect to glean some constructive knowledge — but I promised to myself that I will write a post where I will confess the simple truth — I don’t know anything! I really don’t — it’s a miracle that I’ve made it so far knowing how little I do. I have no five year plan, no pro tips to share with the younger generation. I’m still learning how to write music, how to play an instrument, how to be a better dad and husband, son, and a better neighbor. I try to show up for people — I could always do more.

I treasure every day, knowing how fragile all this is, and am grateful beyond words.

Thank you, friends! See you out there!


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