The Kennedy Center

Banda Magda


Led by Greek-born singer, accordionist, film scorer, and composer Magda Giannikou, Banda Magda moves from baiao to jazz manouche, from Greek dance rhythms to samba beats. Their songs, sung in French (with forays into six other languages), hearken back to the golden age of Brazilian bossa, the best of cinematic arranging, and the lush chic of vintage French pop, all while drawing on the band’s global background. Trained in film scoring at Berklee, Giannikou’s film music finesse has won her awards and caught the attention of everyone from Kronos Quartet to Louis CK (she sang a duet with CK for the comedian’s TV show).

Live, Banda Magda bursts with humor and quirky sensibility, powered by unflagging energy. The New York-based group unites an Esquivel-loving vibes player from Japan; an Argentinean jazz guitarist, a Nagasaki-born percussionist with contemporary classical cred; a hand drummer with every South American rhythm at his fingertips; and a rock-solid Greek multi-instrumentalist/bassist, all led by the sweet-voiced Giannikou. Together, these close musical friends turn Giannikou’s songs into engaging romps that have won them a spot with Carnegie Hall Musical Explorers Series, as well as discerning venues like Joe’s Pub, Celebrate Brooklyn, the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center, The Jefferson Center, and more.

Magda Giannikou is a pianist, an accordionist, a singer, a composer, an orchestrator, a songwriter, a music producer, an aspiring dancer, and a very good chef. Born and raised in Athens, Greece, she very soon discovered that music was the coolest thing on earth and began her musical training in classical music and jazz.

In 2003, after having taught at elementary schools all over the map of Greece, written music for TV and theater in her native Athens, and having participated in more than 50 Greek children’s productions, the forces of nature took her to Boston, where she studied film music at the infamous Berklee College of Music.

A winner of multiple awards, such as the Georges Delerue Award for achievement in Film Scoring, and the BMI Film Scholarship, she moved to New York just after her studies. Bedazzled by the wonderful world of live jazz and world music, she took some time and made songwriting, singing, playing accordion, and gigging a significant part of her life.

An immediate result was the formation of her band Banda Magda, a blend of French lyrics over Latin-American rhythms and jazz improvisation that encompasses all the wonderful and diverse stimuli that the city of New York can induce in a musician.  Banda Magda has obtained a diverse following throughout the globe with performances in the U.S., France, Luxemburg, Greece, Colombia, and Canada. The group is additionally part of the Musical Explorers Program with reoccurring residencies at the prestigious Carnegie Hall.

Watch Past Performances

Video 3/4/2017: Banda Magda

Founded by Greek-born singer, film scorer, and composer Magda Giannikou, Banda Magda moves from samba to French chanson, from Greek folk tunes to Colombian cumbia and Afro-Peruvian lando. Their songs capture the best of mid-century pop ballads and cinematic arranging, drawing on the band’s global background and unchained musicality.

Video 9/25/2013: Banda Magda

The New York-based band, founded and led by multi-instrumentalist Magda Giannikou, brings its own blend of French pop, South American rhythms, jazz, and more to the stage.

Banda Magda