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ZMEI3 in Concert: A Very Romanian Affair

Updated: Jun 19, 2023

An evening of "Rough Romanian Soul" at an iconic D.C. venue

ZMEI3 is a Romanian group formed in Berlin, Germany, which has been at the forefront of a radical renewal of Romanian music of the past decade. The name alludes to the supernatural creatures of Romanian folklore, the zmei, a species of dragons with destructive powers that always make good shine brighter. ZMEI3’s blend of indie-pop, blues and soul, infused with jazz, avant-garde, and psychedelic influences, creates a distinctive sound, at once refined and exuberant, which came to be known as “Rough Romanian Soul” (as the title of their debut album, produced by GRAMMY® award-winner, Ian Brennan, live without overdubs in the Carpathian Mountains). Throughout the years, ZMEI3 has performed at WOMAD, BBC Radio 3 & BBC World, The Troubadour in London, Electric Castle Festival in Romania, Hamburg Philharmonic, Gasteig in Munich, Schleswig-Holstein Musikfestival, Stanser Musiktage, Porgy & Bess in Vienna, and at the Bucharest Jazz Festival. The group returns to Washington, D.C. after a memorable concert at the Union Stage in 2019.

ZMEI3 is: Mihai Victor Iliescu – concept, guitars, vocals, lyrics; Oli Bott – vibraphone, keyboards, composition; Corina Sîrghi – lead vocals; Ilko Gradev – accordion; Andrei Petrache – keyboards; Michael Acker – bass; Ati de Chile – drums.

"Rough Romanian Soul is a fierce, authentic, artfully crafted musical landscape." – World Music Central

"ZMEI3 are psychedelic and melancholic, spiritual and soulful, jazzy and experimental, sometimes even rock, always very Romanian and above all - brave." – West Deutschland Radio

"A passionate performance, loud and euphoric, virtouso and touching." – Der Tagesspiegel


June 13th, 2023, 7 PM

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Terrace Theater

Free event. Tickets required. Book your tickets HERE.


Agurida (Sour grape) – a traditional love song with intense feelings of lust and desire

N-o vei avea (You’ll never have her) - a true story from Bucharest where a boy leaves a girl as the summer just sets in

Dezordine (Mess) – a funny song about the frustration of a Romanian in Germany, who longs for more mess and idleness and less order and discipline

Ploua cu ea (She comes with the rain) – a song about the smell of summer rain in the South

She’s Gone Wild – a song in English about a woman gone wild after a breakup

Anica Pânză Ghilea – a love song from Dobrogea, a region by the Black Sea, about an unlikely romance between a local girl and a Ottoman invader

Ah! - a song about a young girl who refuses the advances of a charming guy

Vreau un bărbat (I Want a Man) – an uplifting song questioning the condition of men in the new millennium

Pa (Bye) – a beautiful breakup song

Rică din Obor (Rică from Obor) – a story from the Bucharest slum of the Roma minority, a true Romanian version of Mack the Knife

“A Very Romanian Affair” will be presented in Washington, D.C., by Ambasada României în Statele Unite ale Americii / Romanian Embassy to US and the Romanian Cultural Institute in New York, with the generous support of Banca Transilvania, BCR, CEC Bank, Dedeman, Kaufland, EximBank, One, Hidroelectrica, Lidl, EMag. The concert is part of an ample cultural program dedicated to the Romania-United States Strategic Partnership.

Tickets are available at the Kennedy Center Box Office, by phone at (202) 467-4600 and on For all other ticket-related customer service inquiries, please call the Advance Sales Box Office at (202) 416-8540.

This event is an external rental presented in coordination with the Kennedy Center Campus Rentals Office and is not produced by the Kennedy Center.



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