In a concert held at Wembley Stadium on Saturday July 7th, millions throughout the world saw Madonna entertaining an audience of 70,000 in a stunning finale to the London leg of ‘Live Earth’. Her set included ‘La Isla Bonita’ performed with Eugene Hutz and Sergey Ryabatsev, from the New York gypsy punk band Gogol Bordello.
Accompanying them on a Roland FR-3 V-Accordion was Marcus Brown, Madonna’s regular keyboards accompanist, who commented: "Using the V-Accordion at Live Earth with Gogol Bordello and Madonna united on one stage was very important for me as it helps expose this beautiful, somewhat forgotten and simply unique instrument to a modern audience on a world wide level. It was an honor for me to play an incredible instrument to such a diverse global crowd and to hopefully inspire in what ever little way I could a recognition that this instrument is very much alive and kicking in 2007. Long live the accordion."
The French qualification competition was held in La Selle sur le Bied on the 21st July 2007. Contestants were qualifying for the CMA Trophee Mondiale 2007 to be held in Samara, Russia during November. The French qualification event was organised by CMA President Frederic Deschamps.
The classical competition was held in the church of “La Selle sur le Bied” and the Variety classes in the local “Salle des Fetes”. Large numbers of public supported the event.
In the Senior Classical category, from the four entries qualifying Julien "Speedy" Gonzales and Dimitri Bouclier excelled – both are former CMA Champions in other categories. In the Junior Classical category, Remi Mounes and Gaëlle Vinckier gave commendable qualifying perfomances.
In the Junior Variety category, Benoit Nortier excelled with Charlène Fleury, Pierre Laval, Kévin Legrand, Gaëlle Vinckier, Madeline Alanic. Rric Allard Jacquin, Lydie Baud, Julie Blocher, Anne-Sophie Bonnot and Jérémy Déhier also qualifying.
In the Senior Variety Category Benoit Chabod, Felicien Brut, and Cyril Blanchard excelled with Nicolas Koch, Tannick Lopes, Isabelle Soleil, Stéphane Belleville and Benjamin Durafour also qualifying.
Excellent performances were also given by internationals Grayson Masefield (New Zealand), Wang Li (China) and Sabrina Prichard (Sweden).
Contributed by Horst Fausel, Hohner Accordion Product Manager
On the July 19th Russian accordionist Alexander Shirunov paid a visit to the Hohner factory in Trossingen. He was very impressed to watch the manufacture of Hohner accordions. When testing the Morino converter accordion and the Fun Flash piano with their trendy design he immediately decided to use these 2 instruments during his next performances on stage. A visit to the Hohner museum and the Hohner Conservatoire completed his visit in Trossingen.
During the anniversary celebrations on the September 8th and 9th in Trossingen, visitors will have the possibility to see and hear Alexander Shirunov on several occasions.
Elio Pietro Viola, 91, passed away on July 17th at the Hamilton General Hospital, Ontario. He had been an accordionist since the age of 14, and his accordion and his teaching had touched many. His widow Agnes, who had been married to him for almost 64 years, said she couldn't keep a count of the number of people who had told her that they had been taught to play the accordion by her husband.
After lessons with Professor Tito Allega, Viola became a player and a teacher, performing for countless christenings, weddings, baptisms and funerals. His son, Charles Viola, who lives in Toronto, says his dad used to joke how, while passing people on the street, he felt he had played at their weddings. Charles said that his father loved to use music to bring people together.
Viola played with many bands in Hamilton over the years and the couple also ran four music stores and studios at different times. "He taught me how to play the accordion," said Agnes. (She now runs the Agnes Viola School of Music.) He learned braille so that he could teach the accordion to blind students, and usually had a waiting list for students.
He stopped playing professionally about 10 years ago. Agnes says he was a perfectionist and stopped playing because he didn't want to make a mistake. But he still played his beloved accordion for family, friends and neighbours.
Francesco Gesualdi at 60th ‘Fiesolana’ Festival - Italy
Contributed by Alessio Gerundini
Accordionist Francesco Gesualdi appeared in concert in the famous Roman Theater at the long running ‘Fiesolana’ Festival on July 7th.
Other musicians in this concert included the pianist Pier Narciso Masi, the violinist Cristiano Rossi, and an orchestra directed by Pero Bellugi. Gesualdi performed ‘Breath’, a new composition by the Italian composer Mauro Cardi for accordion and live electronics. This work was inspired by a play written in 1958 by Samuel Beckett.
An Accordion Birthday Cake for the Best Teacher, Ohrid - Macedonia
Contributed by Anica Karakutovska
After a successful ending of the school year filled with lots of concerts and competitions home and abroad, on July 22nd Professor Zorica Karakutovska used the opportunity to celebrate her birthday and recently received award.
This year, the Association of Music and Ballet teachers from the Republic of Macedonia for the third time awarded prizes for best teachers in the field of music education. The prize ceremony was at the closing concert at the 6th International competition for young musicians ‘Ohrid Pearls’ – 2007. Professor of Accordion Zorica Karakutovska was proclaimed for best pedagogue in school year 2005/2006. That is her third award for best teacher in the field of music education and additional reason for a great birthday celebration.
The party was enriched with amazing accordion cake, a gift that Professor Karakutovska shared with family, friends and her students.
Jon Hammond Remembers Jimi Hendrix, Frankfurt – Germany
The Jon Hammond Band made 'Accordion History' at Frankfurt Musikmesse demonstrating his Excelsior accordion through 2 full stacks of Marshall Amps like Jimi Hendrix! With Erik Hargrove, drummer of James Brown Soul Generals, Kevin Mauder - tenor sax, Tyrone Starks – trombone, playing Jon's Soul Rock compositions ‘Get Back In The Groove’ and theme song ‘Late Rent’. This was Jon's 21st consecutive year playing at the Musikmesse instrument trade show.
The UK Roland V-Accordion Competition takes place on September 30th at the Royal Academy of Music in London. Roland must receive entries by September 5th. The prize for the UK final is £1,000 worth of Roland Equipment and the European final prize is Euros 5,000. Winners of this and the other national contests go forward to the International finals, which will take place in Italy in early November.
Competitors need to film themselves playing a short program of 5 minutes and send it in to Roland UK. Any make of accordion may be used for the video but competitors must play a Roland V-Accordion in the finals, which can be borrowed from Roland two weeks prior to the final if one is not owned already. The competition is open to soloists or ensembles of up to 4 people. The rules and regulations are all now available from Roland UK.
The 4th Majella Etnofestival takes place in San Valentino, Abruzzo, on July 27th and 28th. This festival focuses on regional song and dance, and involves all kinds of musicians including accordionists.
Boston-based Irish accordionist performs at Cape Cod Irish Village, 512 Main Street, W. Yarmouth, Massachusetts, on July 29th and 30th, and on August 5th, 6th, 22nd, 23rd and 30th. In 1955 Fintan Stanley was the first to win an All Ireland title using the Continental chromatic button accordion, and has since pursued a career as a versatile entertainer.
The Andanças International Festival takes place from July 30th to August 5th, and features several accordionists. Each festival addresses a different theme, and this year ‘Metamorphosis’ has been chosen because the organisers want to see some changes: “We believe we have come very far in our way to put popular dance back in a proper social environment.
Yet we believe we are short of getting where we should be by now, 12 years gone: we would like people to especially engage with Portuguese popular dances, which are still much neglected among Andanças world dances. This also means getting more musicians to play Portuguese dances, so this year we offer several workshops on traditional Portuguese musical instruments. Because people also used to dance to the sound of accapella songs, also we offer workshops on songs from different Portuguese regions”.
‘Metamorphosis’ also addresses human behaviour towards environmental sustainability, implementing eco-initiatives that are aimed at reducing the environmental impact of the Festival. Publicity information states that: “There is a need for a real metamorphosis in behaviour, we must reduce consumption, we must recycle, we must dance our way to sustainability."
The North Shore Accordion Orchestra will perform a ‘Farewell Concert’ on Sunday August 5th, 4pm to 6pm, prior to departing for the Coupe Mondiale held in Washington DC, USA, August 13th to 15th. The venue is the Function Room, Glenfield Leisure Centre, Bentley Avenue, Glenfield. This concert will also feature solo contributions from NSAO members Jessica Chen, Daisy Huang, Stephanie and Olivia Panzic and George Xu, each of whom will represent New Zealand at the Coupe Mondiale. Both the Music Makers and Musicale Groups will play at the concert, and Lionel Reekie will direct the NSAO.
NSAO members Grayson Masefield and Edward Giffney are representing NZ too but are already overseas.
During August the NSAO will be performing at the Kennedy Centre, during the Coupe Mondiale, in Washington, and at the Mount Vernon City Hall Plaza in New York.
The annual accordion course at Dartington Hall takes place from August 11th to 18th, led by Ian Watson. The course will focus on ensemble as well as solo performance. The repertoire will be varied: Bach (suites, inventions and fugues) and folk music from around the UK, drawing on the dance element of both. Participants should be able to read music and have prepared at least one solo piece to work on in masterclasses.
Harmonica Ensemble ‘Guinness Book of Records’ Attempt, Trossingen - Germany
Contributed by Hermi Kaleta
On Sunday September 9th,from 4pm, there will be an attempt to establish a new world record for the largest harmonica ensemble, at the Town Hall in Trossingen. Anyone with a harmonica can join in, whatever their standard, and previous musical training or harmonica-knowledge are not required.
The World Country Music Contest takes place later in 2007, and is open to all singers, musicians and bands. Applicants are invited to submit a video and win up to $200,000 in prizes, with the final contest taking place in Nashville, Tennessee. Registration online by August 1st 2007.
The 2007 Accordion Master Class & Concert Series sponsored by the American Accordionists' Association runs from July 27, 28 & 29. The series of master classes and concerts is led by the incomparable Dr. William Schimmel who promises "a weekend romp of questionable, useless and far-fetched information."
Part of that includes the premiere performance by Lenny Feldmann of "The Darkside of the Moon Suite" he arranged for acoustic accordion, based on the 1973 Album of the same name by rock group Pink Floyd. The 12:30 minute arrangement includes Breathe, Time, Breathe (reprise), The Great Gig in the Sky, Money, Us and Them, Brain Damage, Eclipse, on Friday, July 27, 2007, 7 pm at the Tenri Cultural Center of New York on West 13th Street, New York City. Full details are on the AAA website.
Gary Dahl - accordionist as well as a composer, arranger, recording artist and music educator, releases 3 new works for accordion available for purchase online, ‘Beer Barrel Polka’, ‘Fascination’, 'The Music Of The Night'. Samples of this music are available on the site. The music is in eSheet format, able to be emailed to your computer. Purchase with credit card.